By: Allison Campbell, co-curator for Into the Void,
senior art history major, University of Oklahoma School of Art and Art History
It was only last October when Theresa Hultberg listened to me groan about art history students having nothing to do and asked me to be a co-curator of Into the Void. Theresa was part of a student-run team that had been given the opportunity to co-curate a show with art objects from the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art’s permanent collection. The team included another studio major, Alexa Healy, and a Visual Communications major, Laura Fortner, who would be curating the Optical Art works and creating the graphics. This team had been working together for almost a year, and wanted to add an art history major.
The need for my help was clearly stated . . . everyone hates formal writing, and on top of that I would be giving the official lecture at the presentation in February. Studying art history, all of those critiques and formal analysis have always been a stubborn challenge for me, and like a Cezanne painting it has been slow progress. But if anything, curating Into the Void gave me an experience that was unlike anything else I have done in school; it taught me how to write for an audience. I know the phrase “Be kind to your audience,” but when your audience is your college professor and your grandma (yes she still proofs every single one of my papers), it can be hard to contextualize. Knowing that my writing was going to be in gallery guides and didactic panels really changed my approach; I started writing for people that did not have the same background knowledge in art history that I did. I applied the same principle to my speech. I actually preformed it in my living room while my two roommates, one who is an Anthropology major and the other who is a Spanish Literature major, and made them raise their hands when they had no idea what I was talking about.
While curating Into the Void, I discovered that it’s a good thing to know the art speak and historical movements, but sometimes finding the balance of how to best communicate with all people, rather than a select few, is more important than the art in itself. Now that Into the Void has had its opening ceremony and I can take a big breath after reciting my speech, I’ve done some reflecting and found that I truly loved doing the work and the pressure that came with it. Writing was never my first love and it has never come easily to me, but I have always viewed it as essential to express myself clearly to others. Curating has shown me that this persistent desire to write can be combined with my love of art and museums.
I want to thank the Into the Void girls and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art for giving me this experience.