So last night I went to an art opening that had a few of my prints in the show (including the one shown above). Unfortunately, I was a little disturbed by some of the aspects of the show. Although I don’t really want to be a complainer, I feel that some of them are important to mention. The first thing I noticed was that my three pieces had been hung in a corner of the gallery that also functions as a sitting area for their new coffee/wine bar. This was a little annoying as there were people sitting at a table right in front of it while I was there so the work wasn’t really accessible to be viewed. It was annoying, but I also accept that if I’m submitting my work to a gallery that I am also giving up control of how it will be displayed unless I have that specified in my contract. (Which I didn’t.)
What really rubbed me the wrong way was that the curator of the show was also showing work in the show. And the four pieces of their work on display each were on a major wall. Two were flanking the entrance as you walked in (one was above the table with the guestbook) and two more were in an adjacent room in prominent locations. This room also happens to be the one where my work was shown. There was also a resume on the wall in each room next to one of the pieces.
This wasn’t a museum, so there isn’t necessarily the same level of professionalism or conflict of interest that might keep an artist from putting their own work in an exhibition. Although I did think that was a little suspect. But if an artist is curating the show, I would say that they have a responsibility to ensure that everyone’s work is promoted as equally as possible. And this wasn’t the case. Nobody else had a resume by their work. Very few other pieces had any accompanying text. And for a Native art show that required documentation of tribal affiliation, I was surprised that this tribal affiliation wasn’t listed on the accompanying title cards.
Am I deeply and completely upset by this? Not in the long run. It did sour my experience of being selected to be in a show somewhat. But ultimately, I’m still appreciative of the opportunity to have my work seen publicly. I guess what I take away from this is the fact of how I would choose to approach this type of situation if I were curating a show. I would want to bring a higher level of professionalism, even if it is only a small gallery show. If my work was included, I wouldn’t want it to overshadow everyone elses. I would want to try and provide more context for viewers if I am showing art that is culturally different.
If anything, it makes me excited for what I can do when I do have a chance to curate a show!