Curating an art exhibit is an art in itself, according to Virginia Fabbri Butera, PhD, director of the Therese A. Maloney Art Gallery at College of Saint Elizabeth in Convent Station, who spoke on “The Curatorial Process” at our Paid-Up Membership Brunch, held in November at a private home.
“Artwork has to be carefully placed in an exhibit so you can understand it from many angles,” the speaker pointed out. “You have to entice the viewers to understand the complexity of the work through how it’s installed. The works talk to each other, so you have to make it a seamless experience from every angle.”
Trained as an art historian, Dr. Butera has curated art exhibitions for more than 40 years for museums and galleries, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Toledo Museum of Art, and Yale University Art Gallery.
In coming up with a concept for an exhibit, the renowned curator keeps up with trends in the art world, and brings her own ideas to bear on them. “I like humor in a show,” she says. “Some pieces are serious and some are funny.” For instance, she curated a show called “Dead Ringers,” focusing on empty phone booths. A new exhibit she put together, called “Wordplay,” spotlights illuminated manuscripts and illustrated books. Another one, called “Painting Plus,” looks at painting in a novel way, incorporating collage, sewing on canvases, and layered work as part of the exhibition.