Monday, April 14, 2014


It is exciting to be taking over this blog and detailing my experience putting together an exhibit for the Emerging Curator Initiative. This is not only my first time putting together an exhibit, but also the first time I have ever blogged about something. Bear with me.

This project has already helped me learn a lot about myself. It has initially helped me realize that if you want to do something in this world, just do it. If you are passionate about it, make it happen. I started the whole curatorial process with the simple idea that I thought people would have fun going to an exhibit that involved fantastic, whimsical, and creative art. This idea evolved into multiple permutations with slightly different aspects but still embodied the idea that looking at this art would be fun. I believe many people don't enjoy art museums because they feel there is a traditionally elitist or snobby presence at these institutions. Maybe people don't feel like they know enough about art to go to an art show. For whatever reason, I wanted to create an exhibit where anyone could come in and simply enjoy looking at art.

The exhibit that I am working on is entitled Imaginature. The concept supporting the exhibit is that "nature incites imagination". Expanding on the concept, I looked at the idea of how many artists are inspired in one way or another by nature. I toyed with the idea of how nature inspires artists' imaginations and subsequently their imaginations warp the perception of nature in their art. I began by looking at art that involved "fantastic" and sublime imagery. This later developed into fantastic, imaginative, sublime, and surreal artworks. After sifting through countless galleries and local artists, I found a number of artists and artworks that fit the scope of my exhibit.

Last week, I completed the first full day of my internship at the Kirkland Arts Center. On this seminal day, I sent out the first emails to galleries and artists to ask for their involvement in the exhibit. I have heard back from a few in this past week and have started to forge relationships with artists and gallery people. While I know this will be an arduous process, I am incredibly excited to be getting started.

It has begun.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Human+Nature Closing Event

Human+Nature's run is coming to a close at Kirkland Arts Center, but we have one more event before we wrap it up for good!

I hope you can all join us on Saturday, April 6th from 2 - 5pm in  the KAC Gallery to hear brief talks from FIVE of Human+Nature's artists. They will be sharing more insight into the creation of their pieces and the ideas behind their work. The artists who will be speaking are:

After the talks, you'll have the opportunity (in groups or individually) to take one of Vaughn Bell's I Peds out in the neighborhood to make a map, sketch, collect some samples or write about your experience. Watch a short video about the I Ped Project here: Landscape for Walking and I Ped

You'll also have the option to take photos on your mobile phone during the walk or simply enjoy a moment observing the pieces of nature we can find in our urban environment. The photos you take will be uploaded into a group slideshow to view when we all return to the gallery. There will also be plenty of time to meet the artists, enjoy some good company and coffee, tea + donuts will be provided. Let's hope for some great weather, but I'll be making a back-up plan just in case! 

In the meantime, I've been keeping busy working on my thesis and finishing up my classes for the quarter. We also started our first project at the Seattle Aquarium in the Creativity Inspiring Conservation Program. If you know high schoolers interested in art, writing, photography or video production, they can read more about this program and apply here:

I was also very excited to accept the Exhibitions Coordinator position at Kirkland Arts Center. I'm looking forward to working more with a great group of staff and volunteers and the Kirkland community. 

Curator/Grad Student Confession #10: Definitely have some bittersweet moments coming up taking the show down and finishing my Museology Program.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Opening Reception

Thank you to everyone who was able to join us at the Human+Nature Opening Reception! It was a big turnout for KAC- one of the largest the gallery has had in years. I could not be more grateful for everyone’s support and it was definitely a night I will never forget. There’s always a little anxiety around sharing something you’ve worked on with the community; but, the positive feedback from the guests at the reception made it all worthwhile.
I was happy so many of the artists were able to join us and meet so many of the visitors as they enjoyed their work.  

I wanted to share some more photos of the Opening Reception with you all:

If you couldn't make it to the reception- the exhibit is up through April 6. The gallery is open Tuesday - Friday from 11am - 6pm and Saturdays from 11am - 5pm.
If you had fun at the reception for Human+Nature, I hope you will mark your calendar for Friday, April 12th and join us for the opening of Figural, curated by Stacie Chappell.
Stay tuned for more information about a closing/ educational event for Human+Nature!
Curator Confession #9: Just when you think it’s the big finale— you sit down to start your thesis paper…

Thursday, February 28, 2013

From White Walls to Reception Ready

Human+Nature’s opening reception is tomorrow night at Kirkland Arts Center (MAPat 6:00pm. Hope everyone can be there to see the exhibit and join us for food, drinks and great company.

This past week has been all about setting up, installing the exhibition and getting the space ready for the reception. First step was taking down the previous exhibit- Urban Lake, curated by UW Museology alum, Shelly Leavens (check out the exhibit HERE). Shelly, a few of the artists and volunteers came in to de-install the exhibit on Sunday. It went so quickly, we were all done by late morning. That gave me some time to get ahead on the next step- patching and painting the gallery walls and pedestals.


With some help, I finished transporting the rest of the pieces to the gallery by yesterday morning. Then it was finally time to hang the show! Setting up the layout of the show is the part of curating I’ve been looking forward to the most. After lots of measuring, leveling and maneuvering on the part of some very generous volunteers, we finished the install! 

After all the art was up, it was time for lighting- another part I’ve been looking forward to. It was a great challenge to adjust the lighting to minimize glass reflections and a great fun to play with the shadows some of the pieces create. The final step last night was printing, mounting and putting up the label for each piece.

And I’d like to throw in another big thank you to my family, friends and KAC volunteers for all their help with the install. From transporting art, to painting, to hanging- I couldn’t have done all of it on my own.

Before the show tomorrow, I’ll be doing some last minute running around for extra materials for some of the pieces, purchasing the food for the reception, and cleaning up the gallery.

Then when all is ready… bring on the wine and finger food! (Oh yes, and the public speaking… can’t forget about that.)

Curator Confession #8: I now dub March 2nd- DAY OF REST. Celebrate as you see fit.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Crunch Time

We’re a week away from the opening reception and there has been a lot to do!  I’ve been working on the marketing and print materials for the exhibition over the last few weeks. Here’s a glimpse at a few of the things I’ve been creating for the show:

The first thing that went up was the webpage for Human+Nature on the Kirkland Arts Center website. You can see it here: KAC-Human+Nature  It’s very simple, provides all the basic information on the show and just gives a brief statement of the theme. I wanted to make sure I included links to the artists’ websites for people who wanted to learn more about their work. I decided to have Maria Coryell-Martin’s painting Ornithologist Banding Tools be the representative work for the exhibition on the webpage and for the exhibition catalog (see below).

Like most galleries, the Kirkland Arts Center produces a postcard for each exhibition as a marketing tool. It feels a bit like a “save the date” for a wedding or event. The postcard usually has a striking image on the front and all the exhibition details on the back. I’m fairly familiar with Adobe Photoshop (although mostly self/ google taught) but this is the first time I’ve used InDesign or created this type of product with guidelines and bleed lines for the image. Definitely a good thing to have under my belt! There were a few hiccups, but I’m happy with how the postcards turned out. I decided to use Michael Hanson’s Aurora Ridge photograph for the front of the postcard. It’s a really eye catching image and a very literal representation of the show.

Oh yes, and then there's mailing out the 3,000+ postcards. I will take this moment to thank some very generous friends for helping me stick address labels on these little guys. And to thank Jenny, Kirkland Art Center's Development Assistant for taking the whole lot to the post office.

The catalog will be available to guests at the exhibition and provides more insight into how the specific works relate the show’s theme. I decided to divide the show into four main categories and used them to break the catalog into sections. This was a little difficult because so many of the works cross these different categories. But, having visitors use the catalog as a guide and letting them make those connections in the gallery is the fun part. I designed the catalog on Adobe Photoshop and it should be arriving early next week. I’m anxious to see how they turn out! Here’s a sneak peak at the cover:

Social Media
Leading up to the show, the staff at the Kirkland Arts Center has been great about getting the info up on their Facebook and Twitter feeds. I’ve been doing my best to keep up with this blog as part of the social media aspect as well. Next week, as the show is being installed, we’re hoping to work together to spread the word about Human+Nature through these different outlets. So look for some “behind the scenes” stories and photos of the installation coming next week!

Another big part of curating the exhibition is coordinating the transportation of the pieces to the Kirkland Arts Center. I’ve been putting my scheduling skills to work and am fortunate to have very flexible and generous artists willing to drop off their pieces or meet me at obscure times. So far I’ve only had one issue: my teeny tiny car!

Curator Confession Advice #7: Make friends with people who drive SUVs right around exhibition time.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Spotlight: Daniel Beltrá, Michael Hanson and Benjamin Drummond

And now for the men behind the cameras- time to spotlight the photographers in the artist line up. 

Daniel Beltrá:
When I wrote about my original concept for the show I mentioned how inspirational Daniel’s photography has been for Human+Nature.  His oil spill photography really left an impression on me and I was eager to see more of his work as I did research for this exhibition. His other photos do not disappoint. Two of his oil spill photographs and one from his series on Indonesia will be displayed in the show.

BIO: Born in Madrid, Spain, Daniel Beltrá is a photographer based in Seattle, Washington. His passion for conservation is evident in images of our environment that are evocatively poignant. To capture this, he has found it is often best to work from the air, which more easily allows for the juxtaposition of nature with the destruction wrought by unsustainable development. Aerial photography gives a unique perspective emphasizing that the Earth and its resources are finite.  By taking viewers to remote locations where man and nature are at odds, Daniel hopes to instill a deeper appreciation for the precarious balance we are imposing on the planet.
Over the past two decades, Beltrá’s work has taken him to all seven continents, including several expeditions to the Brazilian Amazon, the Arctic, the Southern Oceans and the Patagonian ice fields. For his work on the Gulf Oil Spill he has received many accolades.  In 2012 he was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet Power Award.  In 2011 he received the Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year and Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award from the Natural History Museum, the Lucie Award for the International Photographer of the Year - Deeper Perspective, and was given an Award of Excellence by the China International Press Photography Awards and Picture of the Year International. In 2009, Beltrá received the prestigious Prince’s Rainforest Project award granted by Prince Charles. Other highlights include the inaugural “Global Vision Award” from the Pictures of the Year International in 2008. In 2007 and 2006 he received awards for his work in the Amazon from World Press Photo. Daniel’s work has been published by the most prominent international publications. Daniel Beltrá is a fellow of the prestigious International League of Conservation Photographers.

See more of Daniel’s photography at

Michael Hanson:
I sort of stumbled upon Michael’s work when I was researching artists for my proposal last year. Michael’s travelled all over and has dozens of photos that would be wonderful to include in this exhibition- it was very hard to choose! You’ll see his photograph, Aurora Ridge, on the postcard for the show.  

BIO: Michael Hanson is a travel + documentary photographer based in Seattle, Washington. He was named one of the World's Top Travel Photographers by Popular Photography Magazine.
Michael Hanson's photography career began after playing Minor League Baseball for the Atlanta Braves. His travel + documentary work has taken him to over 23 countries around the world. He recently completed his first book, a project documenting urban farming in America, titled Breaking Through Concrete. He has taught numerous photography workshops, including National Geographic Student Expeditions in the Sacred Valley, Peru. He was the co-founder for the Center Street Photography Program in Birmingham, AL. He has judged the 2010, 2011 and 2012 DC Fotoweek Photography contest. Michael's fine art work is in the permanent archive at the Sir Elton John Collection.

See all the places and people Michael has captured in his photos at

Benjamin Drummond:
Maria Coryell-Martin told me to check out Benj and Sara Joy Steele’s work for the exhibition- the pair work as a documentary team focusing on issues related to climate change. Two of Benj’s photographs from the series Facing Climate Change: The Tinder People will be exhibited in Human+Nature.

BIO: Benj is a photographer, producer and designer. Originally trained as a geologist, he came to photography inspired by its power to motivate environmental and social change. Benj's work has appeared in National Geographic, Mother Jones, Orion and PDN and has been exhibited at more than a dozen events and venues including the Houston Center for Photography and the Ansel Adams / Mumm Napa Fine Art Gallery. He is a member of Novus Select and currently serving as a project representative on Blue Earth's Board of Directors. Benj graduated from Carleton College in 2002 and lives with Sara in Washington's North Cascades.
As a documentary team, Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele have been telling stories about people, nature and climate change for almost a decade. Their personal project, Facing Climate Change, has been featured at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, in Orion magazine, Photo District News and Mother Jones and as a multimedia presentation shown at a variety of venues, from conferences and prisons to universities. They also help a diverse range of clients tell stories, including Conservation International and the Washington State Department of Corrections.

Learn more and check out their documentaries at

Curator Confession #6: I'd definitely caught a bit of a tavel bug from all these photos... when can we leave??

Monday, February 11, 2013

Spotlight: Fred Lisaius, Karen Hackenberg and Vaughn Bell

The three Human+Nature artists spotlighted in this post are bringing some dimension to the show—in some very different ways.

Fred Lisaius:  
My Emerging Curator Initiative Mentor, Genevieve Tremblay, introduced me to Fred’s work last October. About a week after seeing one of his paintings at her house, Fred also applied and accepted a position to be a teaching artist for Creativity Inspiring Conservation, a program I’m working on at the Seattle Aquarium (Check it out here—  Fred is a very gifted painter, but for Human+Nature, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to include some of his captivating amber insect sculptures.   

Amber With FireflyBIO: Fred Lisaius was born and raised on the east coast but has spent the last 20 years as a west coast, Seattle area resident. He earned a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and spent a year at Pratt in NYC continuing his studies of drawing and painting. He has an art studio in Seattle’s International District.
The deeper Fred goes into the forest the closer he feels to the truth.  Off the trail, he relishes the quiet calm where ideas can be contemplated and refined. In his artwork he utilizes the forum of nature to explore our relationship to the natural world and to each other.
When it’s foggy outside, Fred sees everything more clearly. Shapes are simplified, colors are subdued and a veil of calm is cast. He likes to incorporate transitions in his artwork. Scenarios such as change of season, day into night, and awake to sleep create a realm where the imagination and reality coexist. He strives to make paintings and sculptures where dramas unfold, explorations can occur and discoveries are made.

See Fred’s paintings and amber insects on his website at

Karen Hackenberg:

I saw Karen’s piece, Natural Resources, at Gallery 110 in downtown Seattle last winter as I explored galleries to prepare to write my exhibition proposal.  I also got to meet Karen and see more of her work at Katie Phelps' Emerging Curator exhibition, Contained, at Kirkland Arts Center last February.  All of Karen’s work really speaks to the theme of the show and I’m very excited that two of her sculptural pieces and one of her paintings will be included in Human+Nature.

Fun fact: Karen and Fred studied together at the Rhode Island School of Design—this is the first exhibition that features both alumni!  

BIO: The primary unifying theme of Karen Hackenberg’s artwork is the tenuous boundary between living nature and human encroachment. In Watershed, her ongoing series of gouache and oil paintings, Hackenberg meticulously crafts darkly humorous images of commercial beach flotsam. She received her BFA in painting from Rhode Island School of Design and currently lives and works near Port Townsend, WA.
 Represented by Simon Mace Gallery in Port Townsend WA, and Smith and Vallee Gallery in Edison WA, Hackenberg exhibits extensively in the Northwest and around the nation. She recently participated in a seven-person invitational exhibition about oceans, Beneath the Surface: Rediscovering a World Worth Conserving, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science headquarters in Washington D. C. Her work is included in many public and private collections, most recently in the New York State Museum, Albany NY, Providence Medical Center in Everett WA, and the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, B.I. WA. She is a Washington State, Artist Trust GAP award recipient, and has been awarded inclusion on the Washington State Arts Commission Public Artist Roster. Her artwork will be included in the upcoming 2013 Schiffer publication, 100 Northwest Artists, and her work will be included in the upcoming inaugural exhibition at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

Check out more of Karen’s paintings and sculptures here:

Vaughn Bell:

Genevieve also introduced me Vaughn’s work last fall. I love how her interactive pieces invite gallery visitors to get involved with the art and the environment. I’m thrilled to have her iPed project in the exhibition- a wonderful opportunity for visitors to put the theme of the show into practice. Watch a video about the project here:   

BIO: Vaughn Bell creates interactive projects and immersive environments that deal with how we relate to our environment. She has exhibited her sculpture, installation, performance, video and public projects internationally. Most recently, Vaughn created a commission for Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and another for the Edith Russ Site for New Media Art in Oldenburg, Germany. Her work has been featured in Artnews, Afterimage, and Arcade Journal, among others. Vaughn received her MFA from the Studio for Inter-related Media at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, MA and her undergraduate degree from Brown University. She currently is based in Seattle.

See more of Vaughn’s projects at

Next week: Spotlight on the last three artists- the photographers of the group! 

Curator Confession Question #5: Who decided to make February the short month anyway? Rude.