Asa Ben­son-Core Cu­ra­tor

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With a num­ber of suc­cess­ful pro­grams for the younger, art­minded set, SITE Santa Fe is big on ed­u­ca­tion. The SITE Scholar Pro­gram, for in­stance, is de­signed to in­crease par­tic­i­pa­tion in the arts among graduate and col­lege-level stu­dents. SITE Zines, small arts mag­a­zines in­spired by the institution’s con­tem­po­rary art ex­hibits, also pro­vide young artists with cre­ative op­por­tu­ni­ties. The zines are pub­lished and dis­trib­uted at SITE. But the con­tem­po­rary art venue’s long­est-run­ning ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram is the Young Cu­ra­tors, a unique af­ter-school pro­gram for high school stu­dents such as Asa Ben­son-Core, who came aboard last year. “They came to the school to spread the word about it,” said Asa, a se­nior at New Mex­ico School for the Arts. “A couple of kids from NMSA joined, and I was one of them. That’s how I got started.”

The pro­gram teaches stu­dents the de­tails of mount­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion, in­clud­ing cu­rat­ing art­work, work­ing within a des­ig­nated theme, choos­ing a venue, fundrais­ing, and mar­ket­ing. The Young Cu­ra­tors typ­i­cally mount ex­hi­bi­tions of works made by their peers. Cu­ra­tors and artists at­tend area schools. Nor­mally, the Young Cu­ra­tors seek out gal­leries or mu­se­ums in which to mount their shows, but 2015 marked a mile­stone for the group. “Last spring we did our first ex­hi­bi­tion in­side SITE along­side their 20th an­niver­sary show. So it was a pretty big deal.”

Like the other Young Cu­ra­tors, Asa, eigh­teen, doesn’t have just one sin­gle re­spon­si­bil­ity in the group but takes on sev­eral roles. “As a group, we all work on ev­ery­thing, mostly. Maybe one of us will vol­un­teer to do some­thing like work on the zine. It’s a lot of team­work. You have to learn to work with other peo­ple’s ideas and what they want, as well as ful­fill­ing what you want to have hap­pen. Work­ing with the dif­fer­ent de­part­ments in the mu­seum to make it hap­pen is pretty in­ter­est­ing.”

The 2016 show will be mounted on lo­ca­tion at SITE once again. “The theme is ‘asy­lum,’ both in the refugee sense of the word and also the more dated mean­ing of a men­tal hos­pi­tal. We are in the process of pick­ing out the pub­lic pro­grams we want to do along with the show.” Asy­lum opens in May. The Young Cu­ra­tors have re­leased a call for art­work, so­lic­it­ing sub­mis­sions from stu­dents as young as thir­teen years old. In­for­ma­tion can be found at www.site­santafe.org/ ed­u­ca­tion/young-cu­ra­tors.

At NMSA, stu­dents spend the morn­ings and early af­ter­noons study­ing a curriculum that com­bines aca­demics and art in­struc­tion. They can learn such sub­jects as for­eign lan­guages, English lit­er­a­ture, and bi­ol­ogy in the morn­ing and then spend the rest of the day study­ing a broad range of art forms, in­clud­ing dance, paint­ing, and the­atri­cal arts. Asa fo­cuses on print­mak­ing and comic arts. She hopes to con­tinue study­ing art in col­lege. “I’m go­ing to try to go to art school,” she said. “I got into the School of the Art In­sti­tute of Chicago. I’m not sure if I’m go­ing to go there. I’m also look­ing at The Ev­er­green State Col­lege in Wash­ing­ton.” She grad­u­ates from NMSA in May 2016. — Michael Abatemarco

LAST SPRING WE DID OUR FIRST EX­HI­BI­TION IN­SIDE SITE ALONG­SIDE THEIR 20TH AN­NIVER­SARY SHOW. SO IT WAS A PRETTY BIG DEAL.

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