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Experience Report

Posted By Kelli Bodle, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Monday, July 22, 2013
"Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing,” wrote Oscar Wilde. As a presenter at the AAMC Annual Conference in the Pecha Kucha Slam section, I am grateful for my grant because it allowed me to harness the experience of hundreds of curators at one time and use their comments and criticisms to improve both my public speaking ability as well as an exhibition very dear to my heart.

Because the focus of the Pecha Kucha section was on the presentation of an exhibition in planning stages rather than one already completed, I was given the motivation to consider the exhibition as a whole instead of the scattered piecemeal way I often begin the process. This greatly aided me in compiling resources and in determining layout.

The exhibition I presented, "Detroit: the abandoned city?” was one that I have been working on outside of my job as the Assistant Curator at the Boca Museum of Art, Florida, and so the competition took something over which I normally would have dawdled and forced me to really address the issues that come with an exhibition proposal: sourcing artists, images, and references.

The Pecha Kucha setup was also helpful in that rather than presenting a fully formed idea, a closed concept, it allowed for brainstorming from audience members. Following the talk, curators from the Philadelphia Museum, a Tokyo museum, the Peabody-Essex, freelance curators, and a previous curator from LACMA all offered helpful suggestions on artists to include in the show as well as the overarching narrative.

In fact, some of the artists that the other curators suggested for inclusion even dovetailed which was a sure sign that they should be added to the show. Besides the encouragement and helpful suggestions, simply chatting with the other curators during the reception was infinitely helpful and enjoyable.

In a matter of hours I took a poll on some registrarial concerns with which my museum has been wrestling, I got multiple opinions from experts in contemporary Latin American art on a possible donation we’ve been considering, and was extended the offer to visit a number of museums to continue discussions. It was so refreshing to spend time with other curators. Admittedly, curating can sometimes feel isolating despite the constant contact with docents, artists, and the public.

Meeting with hundreds of people who all are familiar with, and have opinions on, social practice art, the care of conservation, and philosophical issues in the arts can really hearten an individual in the creative field.

I have a renewed vigor now both for the exhibition I am planning as well as my profession in general and I think that was reflected when I returned to Florida. I opened an exhibition on May 7th and so unfortunately couldn’t stay for the MoMA portion of the conference but my enthusiasm relayed itself to the opening – a group show of Floridian artists – and thus I received many emails and calls of thanks the following day, many more than I normally do, as I hold this exhibition annually. For both myself and my associate who also attended the meeting, Marisa Pascucci, Curator of 20th Century and Contemporary Art at the Boca Museum, the conference was a resounding success and we made many new contacts, learned much, and secured a few new shows. Artists have their studios to meet with others of their ilk to exchange ideas and offer support, and curators have conferences like this one to do the same.

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