When the chance to organize a collective art project and exhibit on campus to celebrate Women’s History Month presented itself, budding curators Heidi Klotz and Katlynn McNab seized the opportunity.
Klotz and McNab became acquainted with one another this term as classmates in Dr. Caron Sada’s "Psychology and Culture" and Adria Pecora’s "Drawing" courses. Dr. Sada and Ms. Pecora entered into the spring semester eager to have their students collaborate on a creative project exploring gender for an activity of Women’s History Month, an idea that was also ignited by the enthusiasm of library faculty, Kandice Mickelsen who volunteered Buxton Library as the location and exhibition venue for the art project.
Sada’s students from “Psychology of Gender” and Pecora’s students from “Drawing” volunteered to participate in this extra-curricular project rooted in performance, specifically in conversation. Pecora has previously taught a course in “Gallery Operations” in which students have curated exhibitions on campus. She introduced the curatorial team to a type of art called “social practice” and to curatorial projects incorporating “relational aesthetics” that revolve around conversation. Klotz and McNab learned about the curators Nicolas Bourriaud and Hans-Ulrich Obrist and artists such as Rirkrit Tiravanija and the late Allan Kaprow (the creator of “happenings”).
Pecora commented, “The idea of disrupting the regulated quietude of a library with a passionate discourse seemed suited to an artwork exploring gender.”
Moreover, the library’s new media lounge (a circular sofa with built in media station) suggested a more social role for the library, one in which exhibits might be rendered interactive by incorporating viewer feedback via messaging.
Mickelsen had been orchestrating a library guide entitled “HERstory” to function as an informational hub for Women’s History Month events. After meeting with Klotz and McNab, Mickelsen helped arrange for the guide to also serve as a blog site for the artwork featuring audio and video excerpts of the conversation. Sada’s students brainstormed thought-provoking questions to guide discussion. Pecora’s students brought or created images that resonated of gender and posted them on an idea board in the space.
Artistic inspiration came in the form of a lecture exploring “How gender roles affect relationships”, presented earlier in the week by Counseling faculty, Donna Mosher. The art students also drew enthusiasm from a visit by PVCC alumni curators, Collin Pressler (Exhibitions Manager, School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and Eric Heimbecker (Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility Group) from whom they learned more about curatorial practice and socially engaged work beyond the studio.
The conversation lives online and awaits your thoughts. Please tag #pvccfinearts.
HERstory library blog: paradisevalley.libguides.com/HERstory
Twitter and Instagram: #artandgenderchatroom