Asa Benson-Core Curator
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.