Hanging art – an art unto itself
December 13, 2006
Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN Few people think about why one painting hangs next to another in an art gallery, and it isn’t exactly normal to be conscious of the font in the card next to a work of art.Six area high school students, however, were highly aware of those details at Aspen Art Museum’s opening Thursday. That’s because they come together once a week to discuss exactly those topics as members of the Aspen Art Museum’s Young Curators program. It seems plenty of kids grow up wanting to be painters or sculptors, but who grows up wanting to be a curator? An art museum program has been helping many kids discover curating for the past two years. Last year, numerous kids graduated from the program and began studying art-related topics in college.Kristi Bowden, who graduated from Aspen High School last year, is studying visual communication and graphic design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise in San Francisco. And Janelle Anderson, who traveled weekly from Rifle for the program, is an art business major at Fort Lewis College in Durango.
High school students to spend a year learning about curating by putting together a show of student work from the valley. “We give them a crash course on how a museum works and what a curator is,” said Morley McBride, the museum’s education and public programs coordinator, and co-director of Young Curators. “There are very creative careers through this type of work.”At the beginning of the school year, the Aspen Art Museum advertises the program and accepts applications. In early December, the six new student curators decided on a theme for the show they will curate: iSight. Artists ages 13 to 21 are asked to create an artistic response to the song of their choosing. Submissions are due to the curators by Feb. 23. The goal is to coordinate a cell-phone tour of the show whereby gallerygoers can listen to the song that inspired each work of art.
Curators have only a month between late February and the start of the show April 27 to decide between the many works of art they receive. Last year, they had to whittle it down to 33 pieces. “Choosing art is the best part,” said Aspen High School senior Stella Doble, now in her second year of the Young Curators program. “If someone is defending a piece, you get to ask all sorts of questions. You can have an opinion, but you really have to back it up.”Aspen Art Museum assistant curator Matthew Thompson and McBride help the students figure out how to ask the hard questions and show them how to defend a piece. Early on, they do exercises like cutting works of art out of auction magazines and creating a show on paper, complete with themes and titles. “They have to justify why the picture ‘purple dog’ is under the title ‘Bubble Gum,'” McBride said. “What does the font mean? What does the title mean? What are the elements of an exhibit trying to make you think or feel?”Basalt High senior Alyssa Leslie said the program has already changed how she thinks when she walks into an art gallery. After entering a painting into the show last year, she said she thought it would be fun to see the other side this year.
“When I look at a piece, I try to see what the meaning is and what it represents,” Leslie said. “It has helped me understand the message.”The exhibition will be from April 27 through May 6 at the Aspen Meadows Kresge Building, Hines Room. Student submissions are due by Feb. 23. Contact Stella Doble at 274-0722 or Morley McBride at 925-8050, ext. 24.Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org