This project, my longest to date, was created in pursuit of my MA Museum Studies degree. I found the research project incredibly rewarding, particularly conversations with contemporary scholars of Outsider art and museum professionals. This exploration of terminology and artists' identity and agency in the exhibition process has given me much to consider as I enter the museum profession. Through writing and editing, I have become more committed to contemporary and self-taught artists and plan to put these skills to use in my career.
Reflecting on The glacier series by Olafur Eliasson, I proposed that art can cut through the increasing numbness our society has developed towards the climate crisis. In this piece, I investigated how socially engaged artists are vital in empowering viewers to realize change. This opportunity to write for the Guggenheim's blog was invaluable and has made me a stronger writer.
Building upon the current scholarship surrounding decay of collections and preservation techniques, I proposed that a living heritage approach is the best way forward within the field of conservation. In order to highlight how this would look in our current art world, I used Howard Finster's Paradise Garden in Summerville, Georgia as a case study. Rather than preserve spaces as monuments to the past (which is inherently unsustainable), I propose that our art spaces and collections be used in a hands-on way, allowing for growth of these objects' and environments' legacies.
Combining all of the knowledge gained in the course Collections and Exhibitions, I produced a thorough exhibition proposal. This project includes an 18-month timeline, floorplan, full budget, and selected research bibliography. By practicing the practical skills and knowledge we had learned throughout this course, this project put the realities of curating and exhibition management in perspective.
After a semester studying contemporary art institutions, I created a proposal for these museums to begin restructuring their volunteer programs. As communities demand more direct engagement from their local art centers, I argue that contemporary art institutions are well positioned to lead a field-wide restructuring of volunteer work. Rather than utilize volunteers for positions that should be filled by paid experts (i.e. docents), museums can partner within their communities and with socially engaged, participatory artists to found innovative volunteer programs that directly benefit their neighborhoods.
As a participant in the 2021 Guggenheim Summer College Workshop, I created a research project investigating Bluegrass music as archival documents preserving Appalachian History. Keeping this project hyper-local, I met with the leadership of the New Mountain Opry in Signal Mountain, TN. This brief podcast dives into how their organization builds community and continues the history of Appalachia and Bluegrass. This podcast, along with a transcript, is published by the Guggenheim in an online text entitled "The Document".
Incorporating both the coursework from Southern Civil Rights Movement and a personal interest in art history, this project investigated how black artists mastered abstraction in the 1950s and 60s. Abstract Expressionism is a movement dominated in art history by white male artists. However, many black artists were able to use this style to subvert discrimination and enter museum collections because the subject matter was not inherently tied to their racial identity. This short exhibition, shown on ArtSteps, provides a brief look into this history with artists Jack Whitten, Norman Lewis, Alma Thomas, and Sam Gilliam.
For Latin American Art History, the course culminated with a thorough research project that centered around the Chavin artifact Spoon with Profile Face with Ornate Head Decoration. This object was used to dive into Chavin and Cupisnique religious practices surrounding Anadenanthera, a plant based hallucinogen found in Latin America. This essay concludes with the realization that one small object becomes a microcosm of the Chavin religious practices that are still shrouded in mystery to modern art historians and archeologists.