Curator, to curate, curatorial. I was unfamiliar with this role, practice and verb until I delved deep into my art history major. In my field of study, it refers to the act of organizing, taking charge and pulling together works of art to create a finished product–an exhibition.
In the context of
the University, it is something that every member of the class of 2013 has done during his or her four years here. Whatever your discipline, you have effectively navigated through this University with the ability to arrange all of these pieces into something that makes sense, that fits your curatorial taste.
This curatorial taste may have taken some time to develop–after all, the first exhibition is rarely the most coherent and successful.
Most of us came to
campus in August 2009 as young and inexperienced curators. Maybe you didn’t get to choose your exhibition space. You wanted to show in the newly renovated, swanky halls of McDonnell or you preferred the more historic, cozy feel of Larison. Whatever the case, you made due; you familiarized yourself with the security guards (RAs), learned the lay of the land and organized the space with an arrangement of colorful new friends and acquaintances.
As you continued your work, you began to take on more responsibility by joining clubs and intramural teams, essentially committing yourself to a few more exhibitions a year. Some of us even chose to curate letters across our chests (i.e. joined a Greek organization).
Each year, we are promoted to a higher and higher position of responsibility, but at the same time, we assume a greater sense of independence, taking liberty in how and where we organized our lives.
While some continued to hone their skills on campus, others decided to travel their exhibitions abroad to Cape Town, London, Florence and China; some taking their colleagues along for the ride.
Soon enough, we become authorities in our fields. We know the ins-and-outs of each gallery and each object from the permanent collection.
Like any notable curator, we take from the world around us–our professors, our peers, the environment–but we still manage to make it our own. We also rely heavily on the curators that have assumed these roles before us: the alumni that have built this foundation and will continue to be mentors, familiar faces and symbols of achievement.
But like any exhibition, there is a duration. A time for enjoyment, to gather meaning from this specific composition of similar yet different components at this specific time in this specific location.
We will move onto the next exhibition, the unknown, and will leave behind the
campus that we have molded and formed for the next set of curators.
The exhibition may be archived, but the individual works and artists that made them will travel to different cities like New York, Chicago, London or Hong Kong. Many will come back here to work, to reminisce and to visit children that follow in their footsteps; maybe soon and maybe 30 years from now.
The class of 2013 fits nicely into this plot of land in Lewisburg, Pa. The walls of this figurative gallery may be painted over, but the memory of our class will be forever imprinted in the audience’s eyes. Who curates? We do.