curatorial statement essay

As a final, extended research project, you will be curating a small exhibition of artworks that are conceptually related. You will write at least a 500-word curatorial essay/statement explaining your research and exhibition.

Helpful Definitions

What is Curating? What is a Curator?

When we “like” a video on Youtube or an image on Instagram or Pinterest, in essence, we are curating. Curating is simply selecting and separating a set of images, objects, or ideas for the purpose of experiencing and contemplating them as a whole. The job of a curator at a museum is to put together an exhibition of artworks. Their selection is never random. The works usually have in common a medium, genre, subject matter, theme, or concept.

What is a Curatorial Statement?

A curatorial statement is an essay written by the curator meant to explain the rationale behind the exhibition. It is usually a persuasive essay that informs the reader about the premise of the exhibit and describes in detail some of the works in order to show how these works relate together and why it is significant to see them together.

Research Steps

Step 1: Access Google’s Art Project

The source for your research will be Google’s Art Project. Here you have access to several art museum collections from around the world. If you are not familiar with the site, begin by exploring. You can navigate via the left menu panel either by looking at collections, themes, artists,mediums, art movements, events, figures and places. Or, you can use the Explore option (top right) to view artworks by categories, collections or popular topics. Click on an artwork to gain access to more detailed descriptions.

Step 2: The Process

After you feel comfortable navigating the site, begin research for your exhibit. Here are the parameters for the exhibit:

It must be an exhibition of 10 different works of art

The works must come from at least three different civilizations and/or time periods

The works can use the same or different art media.

The works all must share some theme or concept.

Process of your research:

It is suggested that, rather than choosing a concept and then finding works that rigidly fit that concept, let your exploration guide you towards a concept.

Here are some terms that you can use to begin your research: survival, mortality, mind, gender, power, physics, learning, agony, and happiness.

In the “Explore” page of Google’s Art Project, enter any of these terms in the “Search” field. As you explore the art that is generated begin looking for art that share formal and conceptual elements. Remember to read the details sections for the images to gain better insight. As you search, you can continue to refine your search by adding other terms. For example, “power” may lead you to the idea of “subjugation” or “energy”. In the “Search” field you can add search terms by typing a comma between the words.

If you have a Google account, you can log in and save images of artworks into your own gallery. Otherwise you can save screenshots of the images and details. Edit your gallery to a final 10 artworks that will be your curated exhibit.

Give your exhibition a title.

Writing Your Curatorial Statement Essay

Congratulations curator, you have chosen the works for the exhibit and given it a title and now it is time to write a statement that will inform viewers about the show and make them excited to experience it. Here are some guidelines for the paper:

The essay should be at least 500 words, double-spaced.

The initial paragraph should establish the overall premise of the exhibit, the main theme or concept the show.

The middle paragraphs should describe detailed aspects about 4 of the 10 artworks. Describe what they have in common and how they each illustrate the overall theme of the show.

In the final paragraph, suggest the wider significance of your theme. Describe what you learned from putting the show together and/or what you hope the viewer takes away from the exhibit.

As with any persuasive essay, think about your audience and any counter-arguments or opinions to your ideas and address one of them in some way.

Include within your document a page or two with images of all 10 of the artworks in the exhibit. For each image, include the artwork’s title, artist name or culture, media, and year of execution.

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