The Makings of an Exhibition

January 24, 2010 at 10:27 pm (Artist Musings)

January is a busy month. Craft show applications are due. Exhibition proposals are due. In many ways, what an artist does in January, shapes the rest of the year. Earlier this month, I turned in applications for craft shows in April and May. Last week, I turned in an exhibition proposal for August. Next week, I am turning in a proposal for October.

Second Star to the Right

So, what makes an exhibition? For me, an exhibition starts with an idea. The current exhibition I am putting together has been bouncing around in my head for almost three years. For those of you who have followed my work, I started thinking about this exhibition while putting together my Beyond Neverland series in 2007. Beyond Neverland was inspired by J.M. Barrie’s original Peter Pan manuscripts. While researching J.M. Barrie images for the Beyond Neverland  series, I stumbled upon images from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The idea came to me to create a series of pieces inspired by Carroll’s classic characters, but since I had the copyright to some of Barrie’s images for five years, and that exhibition was going to be shown in several galleries through 2008, I put the “Wonderland” idea on hold.

What makes this current exhibition proposal different from Beyond Neverland is that sometimes my ideas are bigger than my abilities. One could argue that perhaps my ideas are bigger now because I am a better artist, I have more tools and skills in my arsenal, or I just have more resources. What makes Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland special is not only the characters Alice encounters, but also the Wonderland environment.  So, in order to bring Wonderland to life, I brought in reinforcements and asked two other Artspace artists, Emily Cash and Susan Parrish, to collaborate with me, making this exhibition a three-person show.

Last week I started working on the first piece in the Wonderland  series. I anticipate that like my Out of the Box exhibition, this series of pieces will take  months to put together. The current plan is to premier this exhibition in August, almost three years after I had the initial idea.    

For me, an exhibition begins with an idea. Bringing that idea to life involves months of experimenting and exploring new tools and techniques, pushing the “jewelry”” envelope, and in this case, as with Beyond Neverland, finding a new way to reinvent a classic.

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