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How to…Make a “How To” Show

By Lindsey Klein, Creative Workshop Intern

I had applied for a volunteer internship at the Creative Workshop, wanting to learn how to put together a show. I was surprised when I got a call from Creative Workshop Managing Director Rachael Baldanza asking if I would help put a show together. Nine PowerPoints and 500 pushpins later, we had a show.

img_2624In three short weeks, we put together the 2009 “How to, Process Show.” There were a lot of steps that I needed to take before even thinking about pinning up artwork. Each artist was asked to slow down their process, by writing down the steps they take to create art. For example, I documented Cody Kroll’s process by taking pictures and writing down his steps as he constructed his wire sculptures right in front of me. It was nice to actually see the slowing down of his plaster gauze and wire process. Mimi Smith is a weaver that has a completely different process from Cody. But nonetheless, they both slow down their processes to create art at their own pace.

img_6601Eventually my job was to condense and transfer that information into language a *non-art world* audience would understand. We had photos and processes when I first started this show, but as time passed I decided what information stayed and what didn’t. I then took each artists processes and made the information more concise through a PowerPoint. Each page included a step along with an image or two that visually showed the process. Some artist’s were more detailed in explaining their processes than others. Faruk Kaiyum, a jewelry instructor, included precise details in his process of making a ring with a bezel-set stone. His PowerPoint enclosed plenty of technical words and complex techniques that needed to be explained further.

img_2702Breaking down and generalizing information that I wasn’t familiar with was one of the difficulties I ran into. For example, I had to make sense of how to make a ring, but I had never made a ring before! This is where lots and lots of revisions were made on the PowerPoints to improve language, grammar and clarity. The process of making a ring was slowly making more sense to me as more revisions were made. Organizing the images and steps were one of the interesting aspects of the PowerPoint because it visually helped me and hopefully the galleries’ audiences recognize the artists’ intentions. The digital photographs that were either taken by Larry Merrill, staff and I and were sent to Rowe Photo to be printed out bigger.

image003All the work on the computer was to organize the text that would be displayed on the walls. But first, it had to be drawn out on a floor plan where each artist would show. It was important to keep artists from the same field (such as jewelry or painting) scattered throughout the gallery space to keep visual interest. The amount of images, text and actual artwork was considered when planning out the floor plan.

Once all the preparation was completed, the show was ready to be hung and displayed in the gallery, it finally came! As exciting it was to start hanging artwork, it was by far the most challenging part of the internship. I didn’t know how or what to start pinning up on the walls. Rachael guided me to lay out my ideas on the floor first, before making permanent decisions. Once everything was laid out, it was visually making sense. We decided that each artist’s wall was going to be treated differently in some way. This would distinguish each individual’s wall and keep continuity throughout each process. We did this by using different color schemes, ways of hanging paper/images, and diverse forms of text to suit each wall. After a lot of timely planning, cutting/taping paper, and hammering 500 pushpins into the wall I was excited to see everything come together so nicely.

img_2649It was pleasing to know that a majority of the artists in the “How to…The Process Show” take steps in creating their artwork as I do with mine. The way that Adriana Lozada starts her watercolor paintings with multiple sketches, value boxes, and changing compositions is very similar to how I work as a printmaker. Looking at processes has motivated me to draw and document more when working in my studio. Hands down, the best part of this experience was learning how to take an artist’s processes and display them to an audience, while still contributing my own creativity and perspective to the show. This internship has helped me gain a better understanding of how shows are put together. I know I will reflect back to this summer and use what I’ve learned when preparing for my Senior Show in May of 2010 at Alfred University.

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