1138 W Randolph Street / +13122089001 / aldermanexhibitions.com
Wed – Sat 11am to 5pm
An Interview with owner and curator of Alderman Exhibitions, Ellen Hartwell Alderman by Jiyoung Yoon
JY: You studied Visual and Critical Studies at SAIC, have you done some of studio-based work as well?
EHA: Yes, in addition to my BA in art history and comparative literature, I have a bfa in metalwork and jewelry design. I continued to make work while working on my VCS degree, but while I am consistently interested in issues of craftsmanship, my work grew much more conceptual, incorporating installation, collaboration and text directly. Now, I consider my curatorial work and many social and administrative aspects of my roles at both the gallery and at the Graham Foundation a part of my creative practice
JY: Do you think your studio based-work experiences affects your decisions when choosing artists?
EHA: Yes, definitely. Working in metals, ceramics, and sewing has helped to augment my knowledge of materials and the silent knowledge that goes into working with them. Having a sense this very personal sense of materiality influences the way that I see and understand work. It also regulates my sensitivity towards levels of production and finish and the importance that I place on craft.
JY: How do you choose artists? And how much of a role does personal interest paly in the decision?
EHA: Personal interest (aesthetic, financial, intellectual) makes up 100% of the decision -making. One of the main reasons to start an independent commercial gallery was to be able to start a truly subjective space without a board or investors to answer to.
JY: When you curate shows, do you talk to artists individually?
EHA: Yes, always. Having a discursive relationship with our artists is one the most important things. I often think about exhibitions a bit like a semester. As a forum and opportunity to dig into ideas and allow them to evolve over the course of the show and in relation to our public programs.
JY: Following the Information of your gallery from the website, “Alderman Exhibitions” focuses on painting, weaving, sculpture and editions. Do you focus on any specific style or medium?
EHA: No, while I imagine some aesthetic relationships might emerge looking at the work of all of our artists’ work together, we focus more on the quality and content of the form in relation to the ideas, than any style in particular.
JY: Do you have any advice for young artists and for those who are interested in gallery work?
EHA: Take a business class. Take an accounting class. Consider an MBA? You will need as much business acumen as aesthetic training and investment in rigorous ideas, in order to invent a way to survive and succeed in the art world. Also, be sure to take full advantage of being at SAIC, not only in terms of training, but also in making contacts with students in many disciplines as well as faculty.