Last spring I wrote a proposal to curate an art show with the Del Ray Artisans that combined art with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I had guessed (correctly) that I was not the only artist in my community that has a background in a STEM field, whether professionally or not. Happily, my proposal was selected and I was paired up with Sophia, who had similarly proposed a math-art show.
Last fall we got to work figuring out what we wanted our show to look like, and we gave it a name, Art2 (which should be read as "Art-squared"). My painting, Periodic at 475, would be the cover art. We wrote Call-for-Entry announcements to encourage local artists to submit their works for consideration in our show. We wrote descriptions of Art2 for advertisements and announcements in print and digitally on websites, publications, and social media. I designed a postcard to announce Art2, and we spent a winter evening in Barnes and Nobles labeling and stamping them for distribution. That week I also sent another hundred postcards to schools throughout the surrounding area.
By January, the art submissions came rolling in, and by the deadline mid-month we had over a hundred pieces to choose from. Narrowing down the artwork was difficult, but a few didn't fit the show theme as well as we hoped, and a few were possibly too big, which helped the process. An email went out to the accepted artists with instructions for artwork dropoff, hanging hardware requirements, and volunteer opportunities. This was happening.
During two nights at the end of January, artists arrived at the gallery with their accepted artwork pieces. What a thrill to meet all of these people who identified with our show! Some were scientists and engineers and computer geeks who saw beauty in their work and extended that inspiration into their creations. Some were artists whose themes already gravitated toward the mathematical (symmetry, tesselations, etc). Some were artists or scientists who wanted to participate and did their best to create STEM-related art. Many pieces incorporated Fibonacci numbers and geometric shapes and abstractions.
With the help of volunteers, we hung the art in the gallery, planning the space with size, color, and theme, keeping it balanced and complementary but not too much so that it felt predictable or boring. Wall tags were printed by the gallery staff and we got them up just in time for the opening night reception.
Finally, it was time for the party! Volunteers brought food, we brought drinks. Volunteers with the Del Ray Artisans poured in, knowing what to do and getting right down to doing it. The gallery filled with artists and friends and family and art-enthusiasts and curious public. We talked and mingled and sold art. We gave a speech and thanked the artists and volunteers and gallery board members who made it all possible. The night ended, volunteers got the gallery cleaned up, and we finally all went home, exhausted.
The show was up for most of February. It is over now, the artwork taken down, delivered to the buyers or returned to the artists. Sophia and I, having enjoyed our first curating experience and now wiser in the process, have already been brainstorming new proposals for future shows with Del Ray Artisans.