Museum offers amateurs opportunity to curate their own art exhibits through Student Picks
Published: Thursday, September 9, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 17:05
With the hope to optimize interaction between Smith's creative student body and its museum, the Smith College Museum of Art will continue the Student Picks program this fall. Student Picks gives students from all fields of study the rare chance to create an art show by choosing pieces from SCMA's permanent collection of prints, drawings and photographs to be on display during the school year.
Created in 2008, the program is the brainchild of Henriette Kets de Vries, Cunningham Center manager, and Taiga Ermansons, education program planner.
"I wanted tocreate a fun, casual programthat would give students from all disciplines a chance to work with art that they love and decide what gets shown in the museum," Ermansons said.
The exhibitions will be featured at the Cunningham Center on the first Friday of the month during the school year from 12 to 4 p.m. Students can enter the lottery by dropping their name into ballot boxes located in the museum lobby, the Campus Center basement, Neilson Library, Hillyer Art Library and Young Science Library.Winners will be notified by Sept. 24. Seven students and two alternates will be chosen to participate at random by SCMA director Jessica Nicoll '83.
de Vries has run the Student Picks program for the past two years. Her goal was to make students aware of the museum's great works on paper collection.
"It seemedsomehow unimaginable to us that some students would leaveSmith withoutever having visited or usedtheir museumcollection in some fashion," de Vries said. "The Cunningham Center, where the bulk of the collection is housed, is a bit tucked away within the museum walls; however, it is agreat place to see art."
She explained that she wants students to know that the center is not a "scary" place and that it is open to everyone. Typically, reservations must be made in advance to see the Cunningham Center's delicate collection, but this program provides greater access to the art by giving students a chance to walk in and see what's on display.
This year de Vries has passed the proverbial torch to Amanda Shubert, the new curatorial fellow at the Cunningham Center. She may be new to Student Picks, but she is excited to get the program underway.
"I think it is extraordinarily special to offer this level of access to undergraduates who may never have worked with art objects before," Shubert said. "When I applied for this job, I thought, 'I want to work with the students this program was designed for.'"
Selected students will not start the project empty handed. Peer and faculty guidance with be available in the form of workshops and there is a handbook to help bring one's vision to life and engage with the community.
"The 'picked students' are only one half of Student Picks - the other half is the shows themselves," said Shubert. "The 'picks' that the community can come in to look at and engage with. Most of a museum's collection spends most of its life in storage, so the Student Picks shows are a great opportunity for the Smith community to view works they might never otherwise see.