to Look at Art—Student Exhibition Guides the Way
a work of art may seem like a simple act—a uni-dimensional
exchange of artistic information transacted between a solitary
viewer and the artist.
Museum visitors study the juxtaposed works in "Framed."
An exhibition, titled “Framed,” curated
by Lauren Kaelin ’10 in the Museum of Art, broadens the context
within which art consumption takes place with an exploration
of the numerous agendas converging on the moment of art appreciation.
Of course, Kaelin reminds, the
artist has intent in creating the work. But often (and perhaps
ideally) unrealized is the curator’s intent in how, where and in what fashion to display
the artists’ works in an exhibition. The framer, too, by
defining the art works’ shape, makes an enormous if under-appreciated
contribution. Finally, untold millions of details from viewers’ backgrounds
alter their perception of the artwork and the context in
which it’s presented.
“When you look at art, your experience is guided by the curator,” Kaelin explains
in her introductory notes on the wall of the exhibition. “Ideally, the curator
is not part of your conscious experience; however, through the exhibition selections,
their arrangement and presentation, the frames, and notes, curators are our unseen
“Framed,” on display in the museum’s Nixon Gallery (second floor) through August
1, juxtaposes in pairs 20 samples from the museum’s renowned permanent collection,
all by American and English artists. Within the juxtapositions, Kaelin challenges
viewers to take a close examination of the art, to notice details, question the
artists’ intent and scan the works to find similarities among the pairs.
"Framed" curator Lauren Kaelin ’10.
so, Kaelin underscores the curator’s role in shaping—framing—viewers’ experiences.
She assists the viewer by providing exhibition notes on postcards next to each
For example, two side-by-side
photographs—CZ and Max on the Beach,
Truro, Mass., 1976 by Nan Goldin (American, 1953- ) and Sunbathing
in the Park from
the collection Women are Beautiful by Garry Winogrand (American, 1928-1984)—depict
scenes of people relaxing on the ground. Kaelin, however, points out the distinction
between the two, noting the intimacy of one work as compared with the distance
of the other.
Another display contrasts a
print, Sauvigny Abbey, by Fredrick H. Evans (English, 1853-1943)
with a silkscreen work, Bus Interior, from the series Urban
Landscapes III by Richard Estes (American, 1932- ). Kaelin
notes the similar “undeniable compositional consistency” of both pieces despite their
obvious content differences.
With Kaelin’s guidance, viewers of “Framed” come
away educated and equipped with sharpened skills in art appreciation. “Framed” therefore
also emphasizes a facet of the Museum of Art’s mission to serve as an educational
facility, both for Kaelin in this case, and for viewers.
Now graduated, Kaelin
has a summer internship at the Toledo (Ohio) Art Museum,
along with fellow Smith alumna Margaret Hagan ’10. “After that,” she says, “the plan is to move to North
Carolina and start reading What Color
is Your Parachute?”