Thursday, June 14, 2012

Questions for Curators - Part 1

Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison
a couple of serious curators

Every year we ask the artists in our exhibit to give us a list of questions to answer.  This year we have 20, so today and tomorrow, we will answer your questions.

1.  If you couldn't do art, what would you do to feed your soul and  fulfill yourself?
Leslie -I’m a gardener and a cook, and I find these creative outlets very “artful”.  I can’t tell you how many things I have puzzled out while digging in the dirt!
Jamie - I love to read, research genealogy and tell the story of our family history in scrapbooks, work in the garden and cook. 

2.  How did you find your way into quilting/fiber art?
Leslie- Although my paternal grandmother was a seamstress and quilt maker, I did not learn from her.  Rather, I was exposed to the love of quilt making through a nurse-colleague during my years as an inpatient obstetrical nurse.
Jamie - I learned how to sew at a young age from my grandmother, which led me to make my first quilt in 1981.

3.  What has been your most memorable "aha!" moment in your art?
Leslie- Now, this is a tough question.  I’ve had a lot of “aha moments” in my studio, as I believe we all do.  If I have to choose one scenario it would have to be when I realized that creating unique cloth with personal imagery provided another “layer” of meaning to my work.
Jamie - this year actually, after losing both of my parents so close together and I was literally shut down, for obvious reasons.  I got my mojo back when making my entry for the Alliance for American Quilts contest “home is where your story begins.”

4. How do you physically design your "mock-up" for the exhibit???
Leslie- Jamie is the guru of mock-ups.  I bow to her!  It begins with a configuration, provided by the venue.  I use small photos of each quilt to arrange them on a grid.  I ask myself these questions; what quilt do I want the viewer to see if coming from this direction - those pieces are all put into play from every vantage point, and then I go about placing the pieces that enhance one another throughout the exhibit.  It’s really a dance of puzzle pieces.  I enjoy it immensely.

5. Do you Skype or I Chat often, being the dynamic duo that you are??
Leslie- Oddly, we don’t Skype very much, but we have very frequent email exchanges and phone conversations.  We have a long-running email exchange that we call, “Coffee Break”, which, coincidentally, is the theme of my curator’s quilt for the “Rituals” exhibition this year!
Jamie - We email mostly and talk on the phone.  Our e-mails always have “coffee break” or something similar in the subject, so we know to get a cup of coffee or tea, and sit down to read.  The simple joys in life are the best!

6.  Do you realize how grateful we are, as artists, for your efforts to propel us to stardom in the art quilt world??
Leslie/Jamie -Do YOU realize how grateful WE are, as curators of this exhibition, that you have carved out the creative time and energy to put forth your amazing work?  Seriously, it is our profound honor that you allow us to present your work.

7.  When you design the exhibit theme, do you consider whether the entries will be mostly representational or abstract? Do you have a preference?
Leslie- We try to come up with a theme that will embrace both styles of work.  It is, in our opinion, one of the best components of d@8 exhibits: the marriage of these two styles that become unified through the common theme.
Jamie - It’s not really something that I think about, to be quite honest.  We want the “best” work, and if it fits into the exhibit as a whole, it works for us. And work that matches the artists statement. I have no preference for representational or abstract.

8.  Have  you considered proposing a retrospective book to an established publisher?
Leslie- We have discussed this possibility.  Stay tuned!!
Jamie - Yes, and “best of” exhibits too.  Imagine the possibilities!

9.  Having curated shows myself I know that putting together "Rituals" has been a very large commitment of time and resources. Why do you do it?
Leslie- This is a multi-pronged answer:  We love showcasing the talent in our  segment of the art world, and part of that is seeking out emerging artists to rise to the challenge of entering a show.  Jamie and I enjoy the give and take of the collaborative process as co-curators.  We see things through different lenses, and I think this is one of the biggest strengths of our exhibitions.
To be honest, bringing the online entry process into the equation this year was an enormous help to us!  Wow, I can’t even tell you how many hours of labor it saved us!  Hooray for Art Call!
Jamie - It is a large commitment, but I enjoy every aspect of it, and having Leslie to collaborate with, utilizing our different strengths, works for us. Being highly organized helps.  I think the opportunity to work with such creative artists is a huge bonus. Using Art Call made a huge difference for us this year, because it took a lot of the extra work that is created by having CD’s and paperwork, off our plates.  It literally simplified the way that we work, and having the advantage of seeing all of the works on one page, and to be able to go back and forth on the artists pages to see their inspiration and statement, as invaluable.  And in turn, a venue can work with the information in the program, saving them time too.

10.  What's the most inspiring trip you've ever taken?
Leslie- I have been very fortunate to travel a great deal.  I believe one of  my favorite trips was to Italy:  we visited many parts of north-central Italy where we have close friends who live on the shore of Laggo Maggiore, on to Florence, and then to Rome.  The beauty of the land, the history, and the lifestyle and culture of the Italians was so inspiring.  Second to that would be Russia.
Jamie - My inspirational places to visit are Seattle, Ashland, OR, Cambridge, MA, NYC and San Francisco.  Mostly because there is family there.  And in those cities, there is a synergy with the architecture, artistic community, restaurants, culture, and they get my creative juices flowing.
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