It was really interesting to gain more insight into the curatorial process of the Simone Leigh exhibit and the steps that are taken to put an exhibit together. One of the most impactful things that I felt from this experience was how the exhibit space in itself behaved as if it was a part of the art, and not just a container for the art. The intentionality behind all choices, from the intensity of the lighting, to the specific shade of gray on the wall, the volume of the speakers, etc. contributed to highlighting and centralizing the voice of the artist and her intentions. This also made the experience more immersive and engaging, as opposed to simply reading texts on the wall and viewing artworks alongside it. It was also nice to see how active the artist was in the process of curating the exhibit and the ways in which curators are able to let go of their power to craft narratives and allow the driving voice to be that of the artist.
One thing I wonder about is how the different exhibits inherently attract different audiences and demographics into the museum. For instance, the previous exhibit at the ICA (To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood) attracted a lot of school aged children, whereas I feel as though the Simone Leigh exhibit will attract an older audience. I was curious about what initiatives (if any) would be taken to continually encourage different groups of people to enjoy different kinds of exhibits that they may not have necessarily thought were ‘for them’. Over the weekend, I was working at the Play Date at the ICA. It was very cool that we were able to build connections between the Simone Leigh show and the Art Lab (makerspace), encouraging young people to build their own clay vessels and explore the materials that Simone Leigh used herself in the artworks. We also piloted a new initiative for children to explore the exhibits in a more immersive and sensory way. They are given textural bracelets with material samples (clay, raffia, shells, etc) that allow them to touch and feel the materials that Simone Leigh uses. I think this is an effective way to deconstruct the notion of “Do Not Touch The Art”, maybe even allowing people to build stronger connections to the artworks. This initiative could also be effective in keeping children (who may not or not be interested in the show) more actively engaged.
Images Attached of student clay vessels, textural exploration rings