First-person perspective: student curator shares experience

Student curators and professors with artist Natessa Amin, celebrating the opening of "Dancing on the Water Tank." Photo courtesy of Vivian Viera

Teddi Caputo ‘18 shares what it was like to curate the Berman’s new exhibition in collaboration with fellow museum studies students 

Teddi Caputo

thcaputo@ursinus.edu

“Natessa Amin: Dancing on the Water Tank” is particularly unique not only because it is the artist’s first solo exhibition at a museum, but also because it was curated by twelve people. “Dancing on the Water Tank,” now on show at the Berman, is the first exhibition curated under Ursinus’ new museum studies minor—a class of ten students, myself included, and our professors, Dr. Deborah Barkun and Ginny Kollak.

Amin’s work deals with the exploration of cultural identity, family, and the moments that define who we are. Through her use of abstracted forms and alternative materials Amin presents a look into the struggles and revelations that we all experience throughout life.

“Dancing on the Water Tank” came to fruition after many months of deliberation from vastly different creative voices. Curating an exhibition as an undergraduate is a triumph in and of itself, but perhaps even better than that was learning how to work with others to achieve the incredible result that we did. “Dancing on the Water Tank” is truly a beautiful work of art (and not just because of all the paintings and sculptures now residing in the museum’s upper gallery). Every decision we made was backed by months of careful planning, arguments, frustration, laughter, and awe. The act of putting all the pieces together was a form of artmaking itself. Working collaboratively teaches you so much about understanding those around you. It teaches you to compromise and listen, and that an open mind is more valuable than a biased one.

Funnily enough, the most challenging part of this process was perhaps deciding on the accent wall color for the exhibition. It took weeks of debate over numerous shades of pinks, purples, blues, and greens. We all listened and deliberated, yet it was pure luck that one person picked up the shade “Twilight Magenta” and held it to the wall. It was perfect, complimenting Amin’s work in all the right ways. From that moment forward Twilight Magenta became a joke, a mascot, and a color we all truly loved. It is reflective of the moment when we came together, and it is representative of a vision that helped move us forward.

We also spent hours pulling together a zine to act as an accompanying text to the exhibition. This document had been in the works for weeks and was the very last task we needed to finish. Late in the evening, we carefully pieced it together, taping page by page until it was done. In a moment of pure awe and reverence my class sat in silence and watched as we flipped through the final draft. It was in this moment that I felt it had all been worth it. It felt almost cinematic, an experience I look back on fondly and emotionally.

“Dancing on the Water Tank” is exemplary of artistic achievement within an academic setting—the tangible success behind the ideas and actions of a collaborative force. As I walked through our opening reception and watched the smiling faces of students, faculty, family, and friends, there was a sense of overwhelming joy. To quote Dr. Barkun, “I do not remember the last time that I felt so happy or felt surrounded by so many happy people.” It was truly that moving for everyone involved, but then again, how could one not be moved when everything is reflecting Twilight Magenta?