Representing Feminism(s): Reflections on The Process

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Representing Feminism(s): Reflections on The Process
February 23-April 21, 2018

 

This past spring the Lamont Gallery hosted its third student curatorial project. Throughout the year we work with students called proctors on various gallery-related projects such as helping to plan and run events, distributing exhibition publicity, and researching and creating text for gallery signage. Last school year, many of our gallery proctors helped curate a special exhibition in the principal’s house called Of Accidental Origins. This year we enlisted their help with developing the themes for and curating the work in the Representing Feminism(s) exhibition.

 

We created an open call for artists to submit artwork in any medium that addressed the themes and concept of feminism. The gallery received over 100 artist submissions from around the world with a total of over 300 individual pieces of artwork – easily the largest amount of artwork ever submitted to the Lamont Gallery for an exhibition!

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Deb Schmill, Rising, 2017, Digital photograph

Over the course of a few weeks, our student curators worked closely with the Lamont Gallery’s Director and Curator, Lauren O’Neal, to go through the submitted works and artist statements. They carefully selected the work that they felt best represented the themes and the varied gallery audience which includes their peers – Phillips Exeter Academy Students – and the larger public audience that the Lamont Gallery supports.

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Ella Cooper, Body Land Identity, 2014, Digital photograph

The resulting exhibition featured 34 artists with works that included everything from painting and video installation to sculpture and even a mixtape listening station! Throughout the process, the students were given the opportunity to select works and defend their options regarding why they felt some works were more appropriate than others for this theme. Even after the artwork was installed their work promoting the exhibition was not over. Some students were interviewed by the reporters of the Exonian while others gave tours to classes visiting the gallery giving them a feel for the various elements involved when curating an exhibition.

Alexandra Van Dijkum, a third-year student at Phillips Exeter Academy who has been a Lamont Gallery proctor for two years, shared her experience of working on the student curatorial committee with us:

“I am really lucky to be part of the Representing Feminism(s) exhibit. The Lamont Gallery curator really gave us a lot of freedom in the curation of the work and where we wanted to take it. At first, I remember we sort of brainstormed what feminism meant to us, and then – through that lens – we looked at all the artwork we could choose from.

Eight or ten of us sat in the gallery on a Tuesday evening, lights off, projector on, and fully engaged ourselves into picking which works we liked. The group of students working on the project with me were all incredibly dynamic, and we would all shout our opinions at the screen and to one another, debate them back and forth, before scribbling down our thoughts and moving on to the next piece.

The really cool thing about this exhibit was that the idea of feminism meant different things to each person in the room – part of the reason the title is feminism(s)– and we all respected this and felt comfortable including all the different ideas. I think that is part of the reason the exhibit is so approachable; because it has so many different ideas that a wide variety of people can relate to.”

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Rhonda Thomas Urdang, Million Dollar Legs, Run Melania Run, 2017, Femmage with hand-cut found paper, NY Times, paper dolls c. 1970s

Another one of our student curators, Maya Kim, wrote an article for the Exchange – Philips Exeter Academy’s blog – about her experience working on this and two other student curatorial projects. You can check out her article: The Art of Learning and the Learning of Art.

To learn more about this and other Lamont Gallery student curatorial projects and student exhibitions, visit the Student Exhibitions page of our website.

To see photographs from the exhibition and events visit our Flickr page.

Phillips Exeter Academy Student Curators:
Gillian Allou ’19, Nicole Blanco ’20, Mai Hoang ’20, Jacob Hunter ’19, Maya Kim ’18, Andrea Liu ’19, Natalie Love ’19, Rose Martin ’19, Olivia Ross ’19, Gabriella Sanders ’18, Alexandra van Dijkum ’19, Luna Vassao ’18, and Wendi Yan ’18.

Representing Feminism(s) Participating Artists:
Taylor Apostol, Teresa Ascencao, Rachelle Beaudoin, Jessica Caponigro, Jeanne Ciravolo, Ella Cooper, Elizabeth D’Amico, Elena Dahl, Lisa DeLoria Weinblatt, Kara Dunne, Nicole Foran, Ann Forbush, Raquel Fornasaro, Melissa General, Catherine Graffam, Katya Grokhovsky, Shelby Head, Alex Hovet, Michael Hubbard, Barbara Kendrick, Eddie Lanieri, Gray Lyons, Ashley Normal, Lorna Ritz, Adele Sanborn, Deb Schmill, Rhonda Urdang, Ngoc-Tran Vu, Hanna Washburn, Sarah Bates Washburn, Tory Wright Lee, Wen Yu, and Alexandra Zevin.

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