Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 4th 2013 Contents B2
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, July 4, 2013
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From Page B1
AW: You've worked as a curator at the MFA in Boston, what
are your thoughts on our local museum?
JF: When I arrived in Port-of-Spain, one of my first stops was
to the National Museum and Art Gallery. I admired the variety of
the collections and the beautiful Victorian architecture of the
Frederick St. building. The arts are fundamental to our identity
and humanity, fostering creativity and beauty while building
healthier, more liveable communities. The arts build bridges
between cultures and bring us together despite our social, ethnic,
racial, or religious differences. It is my hope that governments
around the world continue to recognise the immense educational
and economic benefit of supporting and preserving our cultural
heritage for future generations.
AW: The exhibition speaks of Contemporary Art. How would
you define "contemporary art"?
JF: Of course, all newly produced art is of its moment and of its
time. But I think that being contemporary means much more than
embracing the present. Art that is contemporary is multiplicitous
in character and involves artistic responses and an interrogation
of ideas that are in significant ways different from those that
inspired artists of previous generations.
AW: How did you go about selecting locations for the pieces in
a somewhat challenging space?
JF: Placement of artwork is extremely important, and installing
exhibitions is itself a minor art form. We not only had to take into
consideration the care and preservation of each work, especially
those in high-traffic areas or on bright, sunlit walls, which can be
harmful over time to certain media, but also the aesthetics of the
overall installation. I had a good idea of the number of works we
could include and where each work could be installed, but we
definitely had to try things out and move things around before
deciding where everything was going to hang. What might look
good on paper doesn't necessarily work well once you see the
actual objects together. One needs to carefully balance medium,
scale, mood, line, color, and theme. I prefer to allow works of art
enough space to breathe, as it were, and I like the strategic
placement of artwork to draw one into a room or to have a
"conversation" with nearby works. So the sightlines were also
important---what is visible from other rooms or vantage points.
The arch in the dining room wall nicely frames one of Wendy
Nanan's baby Krishna sculptures. There are some very interesting
juxtapositions; for example, between Sarah Knights' self-portrait
and the abstract work by Eddie Bowen.
AW: Do you have any favourites?
JF: I admire all the works of art we selected for the show, and
wish we had the resources and space to include more! Working
with Martin Mouttet and Geoffrey MacLean from the Medulla Art
Gallery was a wonderful, positive experience. I was also thrilled
for the opportunity to meet the artists and talk to them about
their work. We produced a fully-illustrated color booklet and an
online catalogue to publicize the exhibition and to make the work
more accessible. Please see the link:
AW: What is your critique of the art of T&T---and what do you
think is needed for our works to gain international recognition?
JF: The dearth of contemporary art exhibition spaces in T&T is
indeed regrettable, but fortunately many of the artists included in
our small installation have for years enjoyed international success.
Christopher Cozier, for example, recently has had solo shows at
major galleries in New York and South Africa, and Abigail
Hadeed's work has been featured at exhibitions in Sao Paolo and
Havana, among others. The continued interest in and proliferation
of international art fairs, biennials, and exhibitions will help raise
the profile of talented artists, and, of course, strategic use of the
internet and social media can greatly extend an artist's reach.
AW: Any other projects in the works?
JF: I hope to continue my work developing cultural
programming and exchanges at my next posting at the US
Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
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