Site installation is a key task when curating an art show. The deliberate placement of artwork within a space allows the curator to guide a viewer through an exhibition. For an upcoming show they are curating at Sotheby's Institute of Art-NY this November, Master's degree students Ana Anaya and Ellen Wesly have added an extra challenge for themselves. Below, Ana and Ellen discuss some of the creative and logistic challenges they have encountered as they consider the installation process for artwork made from ceramics, mixed media, and other three-dimensional materials.
Our upcoming show, Complexity of Self, brings together four artists—Kate Klingbeil, Rina A.C. Dweck, Derek Weisberg, and Collette Tompkins—who each deal with ideas surrounding identity and processing the experiences of life.
The mixture of medias and techniques of these artists, combined with the limitations of the show space and resources, have created many challenges in curating this exhibition.
Collette Tompkins, Left: "From Red to Rot I" (Flowers and Paper mache structure); Right: "Your Face Fell Off" (Glass mirror, L.E.D lights, spackle, ink, acrylic, foam base with paper mache structure)
To hang or not to hang
Without being able to affect or damage the show walls at Sotheby's Institute of Art—housed in the art deco landmark at 570 Lexington Avenue—we ran into our first issue: one of our artists declined to include one of our favorite pieces. The work was a sculptural corner wall piece that would not have had its intended impact if presented off the wall, and would have been too fragile to place against the wall without the proper support of strongly fixing it to the plaster.
First, do no harm
Similar concerns for the integrity of work and risk of damage arose for some ceramic pieces meant for pedestals. The concern is that the pedestals and work may have difficulty remaining stable on carpeted floors. We agreed with the artist that these works would be at risk and have selected less vulnerable pieces.
Size does matter
The last challenge that restricted the showing of work was the simple issue of size and delivery of the work in an artist’s car—primarily sizeable 2-dimentional pieces. This lead to the need to select more conservatively sized work.
Derek Weisberg, "Life Mask, His Face Was Just A Memory of His Former Face XXXI & XLII" (ceramics)
One of the challenges that we have been able to overcome was the hanging of heavy and thick works that typically would need wall drilled hangars. Needing to hang pieces on wire hooks, we discussed the creation of wood backing with the artist, Derek Weisberg, to protect the work from swinging off the wall. We are still troubleshooting this issue and there is hope that the works will hang off the wire in a satisfactory way for the artist. This process is still ongoing.
Rina A.C. Dweck, "Home" (2017) (mixed media)
Working with the artists
Our last concern is foot traffic at the space with a sculpture by Rina A. C. Dweck that is intended to be placed on the floor. With concerns about the movement through the show we are considering placing the sculpture on a low table to protect the work from possible damage.
What has been a relief to us as curators is that through the challenges in showing the works, we have had no challenges in dealing with the artists. They have been incredibly supportive in our selection of works. Furthermore, when we needed to comprise the showing or hanging of works, they offered alternative methods and were flexible in supporting our solutions.
Written by Ana Anaya & Ellen Wesly
Featured image: Kate Klingbeil, Dissipate (Acrylic, paper, and flashe on panel)