Sarah Urist Green Lecture


I’d never been to an official lecture by a curator, and I wondered if it would follow the same format as an artist talk. Would there be slides?  Would the experience of working with artists be discussed, or purely the curatorial decision-making?

Sarah Urist Green is one of three guest curators chosen for the 2014 SAIC MFA Show at Sullivan Galleries. I have no idea how these curators are selected and I’m still working out exactly what their role will encompass; I’m hoping we will be paired with one of them for studio visits and general advising.

Sarah is the curator of contemporary art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. She did show slides and began by discussing the big move she had made from NYC, and then touched on the challenges of creating a stimulating and current exhibition schedule that also appeals to the local public. This appears to be an ongoing conflict of interest and I appreciated her placing such high importance on whether visitors had ‘liked’ the shows; I guess this is one big measure of success for a curator.

Sarah discussed a number of varied site-specific pieces she had commissioned from artists for the museum’s central gallery foyer, but I was most taken by her recent curatorial project titled ‘Graphite’. The exhibition celebrated a broad range of uses of the medium, from Carl Andre’s solid graphite chunks, to Judith Braun’s wall pieces. She spoke about how some of the artist’s initial ideas for the show had changed dramatically on final installation and her attitude to this was very understanding and accepting.

Unfortunately, I had to leave before the end, but there was no mention made of The MFA Show and what she hoped to bring to the table. I’d certainly enjoy working with her as I feel she understands the artistic process and is open to artists changing direction and focus as projects develop.

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