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Working with Living Artists Webinar
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Working with Living Artists: A Roadmap to Navigate Commissions, Interpretation, and Contracts
Thursday, April 17, 2014


Who more than living artists are invested in the production, presentation, and reception of their own work? It is their prerogative. As curators who invite artists to share their work with audiences, how can we balance artist's interests with our own obligations--to a project concept, to an institutional mission, to budget or schedule limitations? Beyond the selection of extant work, how to navigate the nuances of presenting or interpreting work not yet created or conceived? Who has final say on decisions? What happens when plans change? While each project with living artists is as unique as their own art, some best practices can guide us through the inherent challenges--and contradictions--of such collaborations. Join in for this panel discussion, which will address some of the more complex issues related to new commissions, interpretation, and the use of formal artist agreements or contracts.

The webinar was moderated by Jen Mergel, Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the panelists are: José Luis Blondet, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Dan Byers, Carnegie Museum and Naima J. Keith, The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Participant Biographies
(listed alphabetically)

José Luis Blondet
is Associate Curator for Special Initiatives at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), where he has been the curator for the exhibitions Maria Nordman: FILM-ROOM Smoke, 1967- Present (2011) and Compass for Surveyors (2013), as well as performance projects by La Ribot, Cindy Bernard, Guy de Cointet, and Fallen Fruit. He has commissioned works by Los Angeles-based performance artists Liz Glynn and Emily Mast. Prior to moving to Los Angeles in 2010, Blondet was the Curator at the Boston Center for the Arts, where he featured the work of Liliana Porter, Vasco Araújo, Amie Siegel, Helen Mirra, and Andrew Witkin, among others. In 2010, he co-organized the exhibition Marta Minujin: Minucodes at the Americas Society, New York. From 2003 to 2007, Blondet worked at the Dia Art Foundation, New York, where he developed education and public programs for Dia:Beacon. In Caracas, Blondet was Adjunct Professor at the Universidad Central de Venezuela (1997-2001), and the Director of Education of the Museum of Fine Arts (1996-2001). In 2003, he completed his degree in Curatorial Studies at Bard College, New York.

Dan Byers is The Richard Armstrong Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Carnegie Museum of Art, and co-curator, with Daniel Baumann and Tina Kukielski, of the 2013 Carnegie International. His recent projects at the museum include solo exhibitions of Cathy Wilkes, Ragnar Kjartansson, and James Lee Byars, as well as the group exhibitions Reanimation—featuring William E. Jones, Joachim Koester, and Nashashibi/Skaer; Ordinary Madness, a large-scale, wide-ranging exhibition drawn from the Carnegie’s collection of contemporary art; and the Pittsburgh Biennial, which featured artists such as Lenka Clayton, Zak Prekop, Peggy Ahwesh, and Frank Santoro. Before joining the staff at the Carnegie, Dan was curatorial fellow at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and assistant to the directors at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia.

Naima J. Keith is an Assistant Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem. Since joining the Studio Museum in 2011, she has organized numerous exhibitions, including Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974 - 1989 (forthcoming, 2014), Glenn Kaino: 19.83 (2014), The Shadows Took Shape (co-curated with Zoe Whitley, 2013), Robert Pruitt: Women (2013), Fore (co-curated with Lauren Haynes and Thomas J. Lax, 2012), Caribbean: Crossroads of the World (Institutional Curator, 2012), Collected. Ritual (2011) and John Outterbridge: The Rag Factory II (2011). She comes to the Studio Museum from a position as Curatorial Fellow at the Hammer Museum, where she worked closely with guest curator Prof. Kellie Jones on Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980 (2011). Keith received an MA in art history at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her essays have been featured in publications for The Studio Museum in Harlem, Hammer Museum, LAXART, MoMA PS1, NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art and the University Art Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Jen Mergel is the Beal Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the MFA, Boston. Since joining the Museum in 2010, she has organized the inaugural installations of the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art and overseen the MFA’s curatorial strategy to expand the contemporary collection and exhibition program. She has developed new solo artist exhibition series, with shows including Kristin Baker: New Paintings (2010), Jedediah Caesar: Soft Structures (2011) and Ridley Howard: Fields and Stripes (2013). Her projects currently on view include Passages: Felix Gonzalez-Torres, the 20th-anniversary presentation of all of the artist's beaded curtains, and Permission to be Global / Prácticas Globales, the museum’s first exhibition of contemporary art from Latin America. Previously at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art from 2005-2010, she was curator of numerous exhibitions including Tara Donovan, the artist’s first museum survey, and Acting Out: Social Experiments in Video.
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