Contemporary curators to discuss untold job descriptions


November 26th, 2012

Omaha, NE – Artists may get all the recognition and glory, but where there’s a successful artist, there is a curator who helped get them there. This week, three veteran curators will discuss their experiences and let the public know just what they do.

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Karin Campbell is Joslyn Art Museum’s Phil Willson Curator of Contemporary Art. And the job duties of a contemporary curator, according to Campbell, can be misunderstood. “I think a lot of people have the impression that being a curator is this kind of lofty thing,” Campbell said, “where we sit around and theorize about art and throw things on the wall.”

Karin Campbell is the Phil Willson Curator of Contemporary Art. (Photo courtesy Josyln Art Museum)

“But it’s a lot more rigorous than that both in terms of theory and in terms of logistics,” she said. The job includes research, writing, presentation, and programming, she said, adding the curators discussion on Thursday will help “demystify what contemporary curatorial practice is.”

Three veteran contemporary curators will host the discussion at the Joslyn to talk about their experiences as curators and open dialogue with art goers about what being a contemporary curator actually means.

Joining Campbell is Hesse McGraw, chief curator for the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and Bill Arning, director of the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Texas.

“We all have such different backgrounds working in contemporary curatorship and we’re sort of at different points in our careers,” said Campbell.

“So we wanted to be able to come together, and sort of compare and contrast stories, and really shed light on both what we do on an everyday basis but sort of our kind of broader missions as contemporary curators.”

And the word “contemporary” is key.

Campbell explained, “You’re no longer working with artwork by someone who’s been dead for 70 years. So that really changes the dynamic and it’s the thing that I find to be most fulfilling about working as a contemporary curator.”

“Artists inspire me and help push my work forward and really sort of form my thinking as a curator,” she said. “There’s some political lines to navigate there as well. So it’s just a completely different dynamic than curating another realm.”

The discussion takes place Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7:00 p.m. at the Joslyn Art Museum.

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