Life as an Intern: The Salon Experience

The gallery was abuzz last night with artful discussion during the Juror’s Salon hosted by Vesela Sretenovic, the Phillips Collection’s curator for modern and contemporary art. The topic was gaps and Dr. Sretenovic’s experience as the exhibition’s juror. She was able to provide insight into her creative process when composing an art exhibition by describing the thematic role in her selections and the necessary balance that must be achieved between the artwork and the space.

The discussion began with a description surrounding the theme of “gaps” and how it became the choice for this summer’s exhibition. Dr. Sretenovic started the conversation by giving a brief description of the concept; the exciting nature of technology and its instant nature, while also creating a rupture (gap) between people. I found this to be an intriguing notion. Have we become a society so consumed with the need for instant gratification that we are unable to see how it paralyzes us? Have we started to devalue the significance of patience, and being able to take the time to appreciate our surroundings? This gap that she spoke of affects all of us and that is what is necessary when developing a theme; the ability to speak to everyone by giving the exhibition a context in which the viewer can relate. We all experience disconnects in our lives, gaps in the here and now or connections to the past. The theme gives the viewer an entry point into contemporary art by providing a narrative and point of connection with the artwork.

When describing her choices for the exhibition, she mentioned the importance of a work’s ability to stand alone as well as work within a group. It makes sense that you would want to have strong works within an exhibition of this type as the theme has an ambiguous nature. The strength housed within each individual work is as important as the impact of the exhibition in its entirety. I am sure each of us would agree that the entrance into the space would not be the same if Artemis Herber’s Gates of Love did not welcome you with its vibrant, red columnar architecture.

This experience was another wonderful opportunity afforded to me by GRACE as a summer intern. I love learning, and being able to listen to the wisdom of an exhibition juror and curator has given me great insight into the gallery experience. Perhaps the next time I visit a museum I will put greater thought into what the curator is trying to tell me and how that narrative influences my interpretation of the exhibition.

Leanna

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