Everyone finds their way to art history differently. Many find their way in through studio art programs or MFAs. Not me. As much as I love looking at art I have no desire to pick up a brush or pencil and create a masterpiece.
Other art jobs I can never see myself doing: being a curator. Curating is such a valuable career path, but for me it is too closely related to artistic practice. I’m not an artist and I’m not overly creative so the idea of being a curator is mentally exhausting.
This is ironic as I’m in an art history MA that focuses on curatorial practice. Even though I don’t want to be a curator per say, I understand its intrinsic value to the art history community. As art historians and critics it is imperative that we understand how hangs, wall texture, and exhibition organization influence our interpretation of art and exhibitions. Plus, curatorial programs often include many studio and gallery visits (for free!), and I don’t know anyone in the art world who would be opposed to that.
Anyway, this term I’m taking a course called curatorial practice where we explore contemporary trends in the field. Including using children’s toys and games to create virtual exhibitions. Having never considered curating an exhibition of my own I was grateful that I was paired with two great partners to co-curate our virtual exhibition.
The curatorial vision behind our project was to juxtapose environmental art alongside images from a board game called Northwestern Passage. The game is a trope of the fabled Northwestern Passage that could connect the Atlantic to the Pacific via a waterway that enthused voyagers for centuries. Due to climate change, the ice caps are melting and providing passageways for cargo ships—bringing this exhibition into the twenty-first century. This exhibition is intended to educate viewers not only on the board game but also on relevant artists who produce art that focuses on climate change and ecological politics. More conceptual (and totally unfinished) this exhibition is meant to be continued over time both referencing new artists and breaking ecological news.
Obviously this assignment was just a way for us students to get our toes wet into the world of curation, and is by no means an accurate representation of what a day in the life of a curator is like. However, just this small deep dive into curatorial practice further assumed my disinterest in curatorial practice and opened my eyes to the huge endeavor that goes behind creating an exhibition.