When it comes to art, generally we get so wrapped up in the artwork itself, and perhaps the creator, that we rarely pause to consider the other factors that make our experience of art possible. Visiting any of the numerous art museums or galleries in New York, do you ever pause and wonder about all the behind-the-scenes work it takes to bring those paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other art forms before your eyes? Curators stand mighty among the many people that make our experience of art possible, and a recent jaunt to a neighborhood gallery reminded me of their important role.
How does one learn to be a curator? One possible answer is to participate in Project:Curate!, an educational program that pairs high school students with professional curators in an opportunity to experience the curatorial process. To my surprise and delight, NURTUREart Gallery’s current exhibition was curated by a group of 5 high school students from Juan Morel Campos Secondary School: Miguel Lopez, Cearia Janicki, Jazmin Luna, Chastity Rodriguez, and Yadria Gomez. Entitled Juxtacombo, the exhibition “explores the humor, horror and abstractions that result from unusual pairings, as well as the potential for unintended interpretations.” The 21st century digital culture of sensory overload inspired the collection, which draws attention to the uncanny and sometimes shocking juxtapositions capable of jolting us from the numbness of too much information.
The Project:Curate! students spent the school year working with their teacher Denise Marinez and Flux Factory Director Christina Vassallo in producing Juxtacombo as a culminating experience. Over the last 9 months, they’ve learned to conceptualize a theme, select artwork, write artists’ contracts, handle art and installation, and write and distribute a press release, among many other things.
In the past, students working on Project:Curate! maintained a Tumblr page, and I hope they reconsider posting there again. The curation process seems like a fascinating blog topic, especially when told from the perspective of high school students. I’m looking forward to next year’s Project:Curate! exhibition already, and hoping they’ll consider guest posting here on CommunityArtsNYC.