I must admit, it’s not lunchtime (at least not on this coast). It’s after dark and I’ve been working on emails, but I still think the “lunchtime” exercise of 60 minutes, stream of consciousness, minimal editing, makes sense for the occasion.
And it’s not as if this evening marks anything momentous, really. I’ve just had my head down working on Fertile Solitude the past few weeks, and now it’s here and happening.
In four days.
Since I haven’t really shared much about the exhibition except for the announcement and a few teaser images here & there, I wanted to take 3,600 seconds amidst the eleventh hour chaos to tell you a bit more about this show that’s been up my sleeve.
So, instead of lunchtime, let’s just call this a midnight snack.
Last year you may recall that I helped bring artwork out to the Boston Harbor Islands. And while organizing a public arts initiative was rewarding in countless respects, and undoubtedly I will operate in that sphere again..it’s kind of nice to be back in the great indoors.
I mean, the artwork is insured, the climate is controlled, my sanity is somewhat intact and I can think critically about how best to craft an exhibition rather than spend my time fixated on concerns in the vein of ‘I hope no one puts a cigarette out on this’.
While this show has certainly required a great deal of troubleshooting and I haven’t completely cruised through unscathed, the stressors have been manageable, and the process itself has retained a sense of lightness and play that was present at the start. As a curator, I have evolved alongside the exhibition, taking it a day at a time, and not marrying myself to any particular outcome.
You know, “rolling with it”.
Over the years I have kept each floorplan (all iterations) from the exhibitions I’ve overseen. These crinkled, scribbled, and coffee mug watermarked documents serve as a visual reminder that the initial concept I hatch in my mind..for anything, will never look the same in the end. And that is more than OK. In fact, if the beginning and end of anything I organized ever looked the same, wouldn’t that indicate a stubbornness or inflexibility my part?
Unlike prior exhibitions, where I actively had some “thing” I wanted to say or comment on from a safe distance, Fertile Solitude feels a bit more organic, open-ended, contemporary, and alive..or at least lived.
The show’s framework is fashioned from tiny fragments of recent memories and sensory experiences this past year; the places I’ve been, the books I’ve read, the sights I’ve seen, the conversations I’ve shared, and the emotions I’ve felt.
And in the traditional sense of ‘curation’ I have hand-picked some of the work on view, but the majority of my role in this instance feels closer to that of a conceptual liaison (a profession I just invented) or a conversation facilitator (there’s another one); because something that was dreamt up by me, leaves the nest, and is then deconstructed, augmented, and enriched by the artists themselves to create something entirely new.
Something that represents pieces of all of us.
Under the umbrella of an overall theme, it was important to me that each individual’s narrative had a chance to shine. The physicality of the space certainly plays a big part in achieving this outcome as the twists in the ‘maze’ and the side gallery alcoves enable artists to have their own ‘pocket environments’.
At this very moment, four days out, I’m still unsure how many of the spaces will look by the end of the week, but I trust the artists I’m working with and I’ve enjoyed the process of watching their installations evolve and unfold.
So let’s all be surprised together at the opening for Fertile Solitude this Friday October 14th, 6-8PM at the Boston Center for the Arts Mills Gallery, 539 Tremont Street, Boston!
Speaking of the physicality of the space, I should also point out that the maze structure we have created is more “maze-inspired” than a Shining labyrinth of anxiety inducing dead-ends. Fertile Solitude errs on the side of soothing, so it’s more about navigable halls and decision points rather than a place where you’re chased by Jack Nicholson wielding an ax. You’ll see.
At a recent panel, someone had asked if curation was a form of collecting for me. And I hadn’t thought of it in that context, but I suppose it is. It’s one of my more creative artistic outlets where I serve as a caretaker for work that I might not otherwise have the ability to live with (in a sq. footage sense) or financially have access to.
..I only wish I could convert my living room into a full-on Megan and Murray McMillan installation, coffee tables are so overrated.
And unlike the general procedures related to art acquisition, which can be transactional/sterile/detached at times, through curation I am able to work directly with artists I’ve long admired. And learn more about them as humans in addition to furthering my understanding of their work and creative processes.
Going into this hour, part of me felt ;( that I hadn’t shared more about the show these past few months; a 3,600 second stream of consciousness can’t possibly unpack Fertile Solitude in its entirety.
But now that I’m ~60 minutes older and wiser, I’m suddenly realizing..does that even matter?
You don’t really need me to hold your hand and tell you why we did this or that, or share installation images prior to the opening; I think there may be more magic in simply allowing you to discover it all for yourself.
At this point– I have organized the show, the artists/gallery/installers have created the show, and now the final ingredient to all of this is..you!
You as a visitor, you as an active participant, you finding your own way and making Fertile Solitude your own.
And I hope that you do.
This is a different kind of art viewing experience, the exhibit will be up for 2+ months, we will have workshops and performances throughout the duration, each event is free and open to the public, it’s T accessible, and I think that even if you don’t traditionally consider yourself a “gallery person” I am confident there will be something in the Mills for you to enjoy.
Come say hi this Friday October 14th from 6-8 at the opening, and if you can’t make it, no worries,
more pigs in a blanket for me, the show will be on view through December 18th.
(note: all above imgs sans opener +Gremlin are of prior work by Fertile Solitude artists. You didn’t think I’d give everything away, did you? ;*)
See you there soon. ♥