Arcadia University has a number of exciting traditions. Some of my favorites are the biennial art exhibitions. On alternating years, the Art Gallery presents either student or faculty works of art. This year happens to focus on faculty, giving the community an opportunity to see a selection of our art and design professors’ work first hand. In previous years, submissions fit a theme. This year there was a change—there is no theme. This destruction of boundaries provides us with a chance to see the most current or beloved artworks by Arcadia’s art and design faculty.
Featuring everything from charcoal drawings to metal work, the Faculty Exhibition is the perfect example that art comes in many different forms. Gallery-goers can experience Jill Allen’s abstract sculptures next to Betsey Batchelor’s monumental painting. There’s the opportunity to view some of Robert Mauro’s exquisite handcrafted guitars next to Matthew Borgen’s thought-provoking graphic print. I cannot emphasize enough how important this show is, especially to Arcadia’s art students. This opportunity only arises once every two years, so we may only get this chance twice in our academic career.
During metals and jewelry class, Karen Misher walked us through her creative process. Learning about the techniques she used, including casting wooden thorns and molding wax models, helped us further appreciate her piece, Blackbird—a modern take on Victorian mourning jewelry. Our discussions about this old tradition led many students to explore similar concepts in their own work.
I’m currently in a curatorial course taught by Arcadia University Art Gallery Director Richard Torchia, so I’ve been able to see the show behind the scenes. Witnessing the evolution of the exhibition has provided insights into the rationale behind placements. For example, this exhibition has an almost domino effect in presentation. Each work of art pertains, in one way or another, to its neighbor. When you enter the gallery, take time to notice these relationships. While looking closely at selections in the exhibition, you can see, for example, that Catherine Adams’s sterling silver choke collar has inscriptions along each chain. This relates wonderfully to the use of text in Maria DiMauro’s mixed-media renderings of found photo portraits.
I decided to take the course Contemporary Curatorial Practices to explore some of the job opportunities available to an art history major. The process of creating an exhibition is much more complicated than I originally expected. Every aspect of every artwork is considered, as the curator searches for connections and develops an effective formula for building an exhibition. Of course, there is always a bit of disconnect between artist and curator. Neither can fully understand the other, but the partnership can be really fulfilling.