CBPA Curator Jessica Cochran and InterArts Assistant Professor Melissa Potter Awarded Curatorial Grant

When Jessica Cochran and Melissa Potter read the application guidelines for the Clinton Hill/Allen Tran Foundation Curatorial grant, they knew their project was a perfect fit for the InterArts department and the Center for Book and Paper Arts Gallery. The CBPA faculty/staff team was in the early research stages for the tentatively titled exhibition Social Paper, which would address the evolution of hand papermaking as a unique and socially engaged art practice. They had found in their research that no major exhibitions or comprehensive discourse concerning this important and timely theme had yet been mounted, and they were marching into new territory. They view their exhibition as a groundbreaking contribution towards new scholarship in the field of craft arts, specifically that of hand papermaking. 

In 2012, the Clinton Hill/Allen Tran Foundation offered three grants of $5,000 each to curators contemplating exhibitions which include work by artists born between 1920 and 1960. Funds awarded would be dedicated to travel, research materials (books; photographs; software, etc.), and other essential elements not typically budgeted by museums until an exhibition proposal is finally presented and officially approved. The Foundation expressed a strong preference to proposals featuring paper as a primary medium, making the CBPA Gallery a top candidate.

Jessica Cochran leading a tour of the CBPA paper studios.

Curator Cochran imagines the exhibition, which she has scheduled for January 2014, will identify the new twenty-first century spirit of urgent social change. In their research, the curators are discovering and documenting how socially engaged art purposefully blurs the lines between politics, community organizing, and art, and in its spontaneity often takes on new and accessible forms such as community gardens, workshops, and public art. “One of the major features of such projects is a ‘radical’ approach pedagogy, which privileges community, collaboration, participation, student knowledge, and empowerment over a hierarchical student/teacher dynamic,” says Potter, a two-time Fulbright recipient. Tying into the radical approach, the curricular plan is to have InterArts graduate students participate as an integral part of the exhibition development. As part of an independent study course, graduates will be working on both the research for the exhibition, and later on its installation.

Other institutions who have been awarded Clinton Hill/Allen Tran Foundation Curatorial grant include the Whitney Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the New York City-based archive Printed Matter.

For more information on the Clinton Hill/Allen Tran Foundation, click here.