Putting on a show
SITE Santa Fe’s Young Curators program provides students who are interested in the visual arts opportunities to plan and install their own exhibitions of artwork created by aspiring artists between the ages of 13 and 21. Participants choose the artists, make design decisions, and handle press for their shows. Maiana RadackKrassner has been with the program since her middle-school years. “I’ve been doing it since eighth grade, so it’s going on five years,” Radack-Krassner explained. “I go to Santa Fe Prep. We have this thing called Teen Action Program, TAP, where we have to do a community service. Because I already have a relationship with the people at SITE Santa Fe, I chose to do an internship there.”
As part of her time at SITE, Radack-Krassner learns about the internal operations of the contemporary art space. “SITE gives talks and puts on events, and I’ll do research on certain artists, on art and exhibitions that have been done on a certain topic that they’re looking for or someone that’s really knowledgeable about a certain subject that can possibly come and talk,” she said.
The Young Curators program, overseen by Joanne Lefrak, has installed exhibits in venues that include the Harwood Museum in Taos, the New Mexico Museum of Art, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. Radack-Krassner is one of about a dozen Young Curators involved in the execution of these shows. “We come up with themes for whatever kind of exhibition we want,” she said. “We’ve done a monochromatic show, art based on words. This time we’re doing doodling.” Their 17th exhibition — Doodle? — will be held at the College of Santa Fe Fine Arts Gallery in the spring of 2010. The submission process is open to students nationwide, she said. “Joanne contacts the teachers of art classes at certain high schools in Santa Fe and other places. A lot of times we’ll get submissions because the art teacher will assign them or artists will come forward and submit their art themselves. Once we get the art, we start looking at it; and we break it down into yes, maybe, no. Sometimes it’s art that’s good but not for our show.”
Radack-Krassner is also interested in photography, but she does not submit her own work for inclusion in the show because she is one of the jurors. “I’ve been taking photography at my school for some years now. Blackand-white prints. It’s cool because we have a darkroom with developer and film. I took a photo camp for teens program this summer at the Santa Fe PhotographicWorkshops.”
Radack-Krassner is not sure about the course of study she will pursue in college next fall. “I definitely know that I’ll always stay involved in the arts,” she said. “I’m in the process of applying to colleges right now. Mostly to schools in California, and I’m applying to UC Boulder, because my sister is up in Boulder.” She is not sure whether she will return to Santa Fe in her professional career.
“I feel like Santa Fe has a pretty good art community,” she said. “At my high school, if you’re an artist, they totally support you. This past year was the first year they got us to go to St. Michael’s [High School] to recruit for the Young Curators, and it turned out to be good— we have quite a few kids from there because they don’t really get as much opportunity as far as arts go.”
By providing outreach to the student bodies of various institutions, the Young Curators program brings together kids who might otherwise only interact on the playing field at sports events. “Anyone can join Young Curators, and it does give you an idea of what it might be like to work as an artist or a curator,” Radack-Krassner said. “I think the best part about it is learning what goes into it. It’s a really interesting process.”
— Michael Abatemarco