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Curating Careers

'Vivid Wonders' opens


03/24/2009

NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - Curated by students at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA),"Vivid Wonders of a Startled Imagination," opened in MCLA Gallery 51 on March 26. The exhibition features the work of 20 artists from throughout New England and beyond.

As part of a museum studies class in MCLA's arts management program, students and faculty created a theme and chose a title, designed the exhibit, managed submissions and developed accompanying marketing and outreach. "Vivid Wonders" features works that represent imaginary worlds of all types - from childhood dreams to adventures into the sometimes mysterious rooms of one's memory. Themes of play and wonder are expressed in oil paintings, sculptures, collages and videos.

Although selecting art for the show from more than 160 submissions from across the country was challenging, the students thoroughly enjoyed their work.

Melissa Cowitt '11 described each meeting as "Christmas morning" as she and the other students opened dozens of packages and envelopes from artists who hoped to participate in the show. "The most rewarding part was when we decided on the final works," she said.

Pete Fitzgerald '09 agreed that the hard work was worth it: "I feel we've assembled an excellent show."

Arts Management Professor Lauren O'Neal said that, at times, the curatorial process can be intense.

"The team worked thoughtfully to select work from exceptionally strong submissions, and considered the aesthetic impact, the content, and how the art worked together in the space. The result is an exhibit that is cohesive, diverse, and dynamic," O'Neal said.

After the artwork was selected, students quickly discovered there was much more to creating a successful exhibit. The exhibit design team, the program development team, and the publicity team started work quickly.

Rachel Seklecki '11 said, "Once we had the specific artwork, we were able to use it to inspire us in developing events and activities connected to the exhibit."

Programs will include presentations, an evening of storytelling, and an audio podcast tour by participating artists.

"Vivid Wonders" features the work Yuko Adachi (Boston, Mass.), James A. Allen (Buffalo, N.Y.), Xiaowei Chen (Medford, Mass.), Elizabeth Cohen (Chicago, Ill.), Marisa Dipaola (Providence, R.I.), Emily Fleisher (Syracuse, N.Y.), Laurie M. Goddard (Shelburne Falls, Mass.), Pahl Hluchan (Wilmington, Del.), Elizabeth Jones (Brunswick, Maine), Anna Kronick (North Adams, Mass.), I-Ling Eleen Lin (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Amy Lovera (Providence, R.I.), Sanford Mirling (Troy, N.Y.), M.R. Petit (Adams, Mass.), Anthony Pinata (Alameda, Calif.), Bobby Rosenstock (Philadelphia, Pa.), Samuel James Rowlett (Westhampton, Mass.), Ivette Salom (Cambridge, Mass.), Brandy Wolfe (Allston, Mass.) and Jason Wolfe (Agawam, Mass.)

Cohen, whose work, "Material Frustrations," is featured, was drawn to the show because, "Our relationship to the world is based on play, born out of the first physical gambols of childhood. Though we strive for predictability, we continually risk tripping, toddler-like, over unexpected pitfalls."

Mirling, who is a sculptor, noted: "Memory is an abstracted form of reality and one that, neuroscientists discovered, is fictionalized with repetitive use. The more times you try to remember your grandmother's kitchen tablecloth or the smell of your first kiss the more degraded those memories get. Little separates the realities of dreams and the realities of childhood memories. Objects constantly surround us. No matter where you are there is a diverse menagerie of things enveloping you and triggering memories."

The themes of exploration and curiosity also are evident throughout the exhibit.

Jones, a photographer, explores the process of discovery that her lush, vibrant photographs evoke: "When I walked through an aviary, I was amazed by the colorful diverse array of birds and knew I could not focus on just one. When I stumbled upon the special exhibition room in the greenhouse, I knew I had to capture the eerie quality of stillness in that space filled with dying chrysanthemums and the nearly unperceivable tinkling of chimes."

"Vivid Wonders of a Startled Imagination" runs through April 26.

MCLA Gallery 51, at 51 Main St. in North Adams, is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 413-664-8718, or go to www.mcla.edu/Gallery51 .