Across the years Ann Rowson Love and I have worked to advance first art museum education and more recently edu-curation, our conception of a collaborative practice that blends the expertise of curators, educators, other museum staff, and community members in the exhibition-making process to the benefit of museum users. We see museums negotiating a paradigmatic change to visitor-centered practices, and we have contributed many diverse pieces to the literature surrounding it. Most recently, we’ve recognized the need for a means to help explicitly consider curatorial options. We’ve built a model based on a competing values framework and informed by education and curatorial literature over the past 30 years. To avoid seeing choices as dualistic, we’ve placed alternatives from the literature on opposite ends of continua, acknowledging an array of options in-between. In our model, the x axis represents curatorial interpretive focus, ranging from the object to the audience. The bisecting y axis reflects who holds curatorial power, from the solitary expert we’ve labeled the lone creative to a collaborative group. These axes delineate four quadrants, each reflecting a different type of curatorial practice: traditional, exclusive, sympathetic, and inclusive. The z axis addresses curatorial intent, borrowing orientations from arts administration literature, democratization of culture and cultural democracy. The now three-dimensional model (visualized here) describes eight different types of exhibitions that ___ (disseminate, inspire, act…). Although we are proponents of visitor-centered exhibitions that act (audience interpretive focus, collaborative curatorial power, cultural democracy intent), we acknowledge that any of the eight types of exhibitions could be appropriate, considering circumstances and objectives. This model provides a way to identify current curatorial practices, reflect intentionally on desired practices, and make changes, if desired, using the model as a road map.
Deconstructed Art Quilts
I have always been fascinated with the process and product of sewing, and I love working with color. My deconstructed art quilts reveal what is usually hidden inside garments and quilts. I use layers of fabric in place of the usual quilt batting, giving additional color and texture under the raw edges. (Think geologic stratification!) Although my designs have roots in traditional quiltmaking, my work has not found acceptance in traditional or contemporary quilting worlds. I suspect it is the unconventional technique. Although my studio time provides a much-needed counterpoint to my scholarly work, which is represented in this exhibition through my collaboration with Ann Rowson Love, one feeds the other. I see similarities in my approach to both. I begin with a strong foundation in what has already been done and then modify or adapt and recombine ideas to create something new.