Saturday, June 12, 2010

Maggie Cavallo: Flow and Control Show — The Curatorial Process

Lynette (LH): Maggie, can you please explain what is involved as the curatorial assistant for the Flow and Control Show?
Maggie: My role in developing Flow & Control began at the very beginning with over 80 submission packets from this year's conferees. I went through these packets, organizing the information and creating a presentation that Joseph could review for his choices. We ended up having a slide show over 400 slides long! While Joseph was reviewing the pieces, he and I discussed the space in which the show would be exhibited, Montserrat's 301 Gallery, so that he could envision the right amount of work for the space. It was important to us that the each piece had the ability to be experienced both on its own, as well as, part of this thematic exhibit. Two weeks ago, once all the work was in, Joseph came to Montserrat to lay out the exhibit. It took him no time at all to create a balanced, beautiful layout that truly enhanced the viewer experience of each piece. Last week, with the help of Vinnie Marasa, one of the best installers I have ever worked with, the show was put up and the vision of Flow & Control became a reality. Since the beginning, my role has been once of communication, assistance and brainstorming with the director of the conference Joanne Mattera, the accepted artists, the Montserrat College of Art Gallery, and Joseph Carroll. For the most part, Joseph and I were in constant communication about the exhibit - what was the theme, how do we exhibit it the best, etc.
LH: How was the concept for the show conceived?
Maggie: Joanne and I had lunch to discuss the show. I shared with her my observations from last year's show, as well as my experience with encaustic, in general. Ironically, (unknowing at that time that our guest speaker would be the ultimate Jasper Johns scholar), I told Joanne that when I was first introduced to encaustic what compelled me the most was the fact that working with wax took some authority away from the artist. As I had learned through studying Johns' work, the working time with wax was much shorter than say, with oil paints, it would dry, it couldn't be worked and reworked over, and over again. I absolutely loved this fact - the medium affecting how the work was made and the artist working within these confines. In contrast, I felt like a lot of the encaustic work I had seen so far (mostly during last years' conference), seemed to be about controlling the medium, about the artist ability to dominate and organize the wax. So, we began to talk about the control that the artist has over the medium and vice versa, Joanne gave me some great insight about working with wax, and this idea of trust - trusting the decisions one makes when working (control), as well as trusting the wax itself (flow), was born. 

LH: What is the biggest challenge for you as a curator of FLow and Control?
Maggie: I have to say, creating the 400 slide presentation was probably the hardest part - trying to figure out a way to create a document that large can be really frustrating, I thought my mac was going to die! My disc drive was making sounds like a helicopter after reading 80 CDs. Besides that, the show has really been a joy to work on. There are always small things that come up, issues with shipping, a fuse in the gallery breaking...but because this years' artists, Joseph, Joanne, the Montserrat Gallery, as well as the support from Montserrat College staff were all so supportive, it has been a relatively unstressful experience. 
LH: Do you have any other comments you'd like to add?
Maggie: Thank you for doing this Lynette. Like I said above, the show is absolutely beautiful and I can't wait to share it with everyone this year. 

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