Home » Creative techniques, Issue 010 June '11, Visual Art

How to Curate Your Own Art Exhibit

Posted by start 1 June 2011 No Comment

Curation can be described as the sorting and presentation of work/art for presentation to an audience.  Its role is pivotal to the reception of work from the artist or gallery to the target audience, and it plays a major role in the success or failure of selling work.

Recommendations by courtesy of Roshan Karmali, photographer.
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Here are some quick tips on what to think about when curating your work as an artist:

Location: Locate a suitable and relevant location for the presentation of the work: always think about your location, make sure it is clean and well presented, is the location suitable for your target audience to reach? Does it reflect the work you are showing?  Consider repainting the walls to give a clean and clear space which is refreshed and professional.

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Group or solo? Always think about whether it benefits you most to do a Collective or a Solo show. Can your work stand alone or would it be better to collect others covering the same subject to show at once, sometimes a collective show will allow more people to see your work.

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Main purpose: What is the Purpose of the Exhibit? Is it to make profit, spread a message or just to showcase what you have? Is the main purpose to attract a crowd, promote a certain medium, a nonprofit?

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Collection/selection: The collection and selection of your work is always the most important element of curating for exhibit.  Hopefully your collection has a theme or element which connects one piece to another. Once this has been established you should begin to filter through the collection. There are some questions you will need to ask yourself; which pieces best represent your theme? Which pieces are of the highest quality? Which pieces will attract the best sales?

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Kill your darlings: Disconnect from your own emotional attachments to the work, ask the advice of friends, and establish the pieces you will display and at what price.

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Placement/storytelling: Once you have made your initial selection, lay the work out and take an objective look at it.  Consider how you will place the works in the space. When doing this ask yourself these questions; what do you want the audience to think whilst they are walking through your exhibit? What messages are you trying to portray?  What story is your work telling as the viewer is walking around.  All of these questions should help you formulate a presentation which flows well by establishing where each piece should be placed in the space.

Rearranging? By this point you may find yourself exchanging the pieces you have selected, and rearranging your messages and ideas, this is fine, as long as you keep the collection consistent and flowing well for the audience.

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Physical presentation: The next element to look at in the curating process is the physical presentation of the work.  Be sure to clean your pieces well, make sure there is no dust or dirt on or around your work.  Choose the way in which you will present the pieces, framed or just the canvas.  Each option has its own flaws and benefits, but the key thing is to make sure the work is neat and sellable, no cut corners or frayed edges. The work should be framed to a good quality or have the capability to be removed easily from the ‘Raw’ canvas structure and framed once bought.

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Written material: Before the presentation of your work there are some key elements you need to think about before your exhibit opens.  The first is your Artist Statement.  This is a piece of text which describes the artist, his/her background, inspiration, the purpose of the collection etc.  This will allow the audience to get to know the artist without meeting them, and give everyone the opportunity to learn about the work whilst they are viewing it.

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Self-presentation: Lastly, as the exhibit opens and the audience begins to enter as an artist the final stage of curation. This comes in the form of self presentation. Artists should always make sure that as they are with their audience they are aware of the way they look speak and act and always have A BUSINESS CARD! This way your audience can always take something away with them which will give them the opportunity to buy/see your work at a later date.

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Taking all of this in mind, an artist should find that they are capable of holding a professional and well presented exhibit which showcases them in the best possible way. Furthermore, allows their audiences to see and experience the work in an environment which promotes messages of a collection and thus creating a good buying environment.

Roshan Karmali is a Indian Ugandan photographer based in Kampala. She blogs and is involved in Masaani Art.

All illustration photos are screenshots taken from the Intel-website “The Museum of Me”.

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