Kristen Parker '12, of North Adams, Mass., just graduated in May, but has been putting her MCLA degree to work for the past year as a curator for shows at the Adams Community Bank gallery. A double major in art and arts management, Parker has exhibited both her art and her installation skills in the space, as she's learned more about being a curator.
"Curating the gallery has been a wonderful time," Parker said. "For me, it has become a place where I have learned more about being a curator. I like the idea of having artwork in public places outside of the galleries as part of DownStreet Art. I think it connects the community more. Not everyone in town is going to hit Main Street to see the art work, but a lot of community members visit the bank daily."
Photographs are just one form of art that Parker uses to express herself. She began taking photos at age 10, and started to develop and print her work at 15. This month, visitors to the 31 Eagle St. gallery will find her show, "I Don't Want to Wake U Up but I Really Want to Show U Something."
In this exhibition, Parker documents her 2010 semester abroad in Dundee, Scotland, as well as her travels to England, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin.
"I grew up with a love for traveling and photographing. Experiencing other people's cultures intrigues me and reveals elements within my own culture that in normal circumstances would never emerge," said Parker. "I was very excited to be given the opportunity to show my photographs. It came from a series that I haven't had much chance to make public."
Parker has received a variety of reactions to her photographs.
"For me, they have a personal, romantic feel to them. I have also gotten political reactions from this work. I love that about my photographs; a lot of the times a viewer will create their own connection to it. I like that my work can be interpreted in multiple ways."
In addition to creating art, Parker has a passion for installing artwork, which began with her work as a student in MCLA Gallery 51. There, she was exposed to many different artists and artwork. As she witnessed shelves and walls being built in the gallery to exhibit various types of art, she found she desired to learn those skills.
"I love to build things," she explained. "I spent a few days shadowing in the installation/fabrication department at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) at the beginning of the summer. The first day, I helped to build a packing box with a lid. I thought it was so cool, that I went home and started building my own packing boxes for a few of my pieces out of scrap cardboard."
When Richard Criddle, MASS MoCA director of fabrication and art installation, walked her through the "Oh,Canada" exhibit and pointed out all the building that his department was responsible for, for that show. "I was blown away," Parker said.
Installing art and making an art gallery visually pleasing is an art form in and of itself, said Parker. "I think that the layout of the artwork can make or break a show - even down to the presentation of the title and the labels."
"I Don't Want to Wake U Up but I Really Want to Show U Something" runs through Aug. 26 at the Adams Community Bank gallery, 31 Eagle St. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday, and until 6 p.m. on Thursday, as well as 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday.