On Curation

On Curation

Following my reflections on leadership in my last post, I thought it might be helpful to examine my elective for this semester, the Curatorial Practicum. This course has had the most visual art theory embedded in our discussions and readings of the classes I’ve taken so far, and it’s been a wonderful return to my undergraduate years when I studied studio art. And it neatly partners with the Gallery Management class in the Hokin Gallery, where some curatorial proposals end up becoming the shows in the Hokin, which is one of my hopes. Their current show, featured below, is wonderful so check it out if you have a chance.


Bob Blandford, the visual arts management guru in the Business and Entrepreneurship Department, has led us through a series of conversations where we interrogated the nature of exhibition making and the curatorial voice. Given that we live in a time where the word curator can be used to describe people who maintain Instagram feeds or putting together a wardrobe, it’s been interesting to explore what exactly the role of the curator is in the art setting. And ultimately, the difference is scholarship and research.

One thing about the course that I didn’t anticipate is that it can be difficult to wrap your mind around the entirety of your proposal. What would it truly look like to have the work brought together to address the question you want to ask? How do you build and engage in the conversations surrounding the topic effectively so your audiences are able to understand and participate? And of course the topic I’m examining is drag—ultimately, I want to discuss the concept of who can perform drag, while also celebrating and displaying contemporary drag artists in Chicago. On top of that, there is some pretty amazing photography going on in the city with drag queens that deserves a spotlight. So the question here is: how would putting all these parts together communicate the ideas that I want to highlight? Woof. This has been a tougher question for me to answer than I anticipated before taking the class. (See the Instagram post below for work by Natalie Escobedo, who takes amazing portraits of drag queens after their shows).


A tangent outside of the curatorial practicum, however: I’m writing this post on spring break, which has been a much needed week off. The spring semester has been zooming along at full tilt and sometimes you just need a few days to let your brain breathe. Currently I’m still in planning mode for THAW, the annual Links Hall fundraiser, and it has a lot of moving parts that are daunting to consider. It’s March 31 so the next time I’m writing I hope to announce an incredibly successful night. Additionally, my work with the Chicago theater group SADHAUS is starting to heat up as we develop and rehearse for our April 20-22 show Happiness. On top of all of that, I’m still trying to nail down my plans for the summer. So you could say that I’ve got a lot going on.

The poster for Happiness, our drag theater production, which will be held on April 20-22 at Gman Tavern. Tickets available here.