Each Month We Ask Leading Museum Curators About What’s Going On In Their World.
What event (gallery show, museum exhibit, etc.) in the next few months are you looking forward to, and why?
As our current decade comes to an end in 2019, we thought it would be interesting to reflect on illustrations from the 1960s to see how times have changed, or stayed the same, over the last 50 years. Opening at the NMAI this spring, the exhibition will give visitors a glimpse of world leaders, the conflicts they faced and the events that shaped the public, including the first landing on the moon.
What are you reading?
Currently I am reading Abigail Adams by Woody Holton. Her opinions and work towards women’s equality during the Revolutionary War and through the turn of the 18th century is truly remarkable. She was a brilliantly strong woman who can serve as a role model and inspiration to us at this integral point in our nation’s history.
Interesting exhibit, gallery opening or work of art you’ve seen recently.
This past summer the NMAI premiered an exhibition showcasing artworks and vintage posters from World War I, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the war’s end. The illustrators that volunteered to work for the Committee on Public Information influenced the American public’s opinion on the war and promoted one of three primary goals: to raise money, to conserve food and resources or to promote enlistment and patriotism. The exhibition highlighted a mostly forgotten and undervalued aspect of the war fought from the United States’ shores.
What are you researching at the moment?
We are planning a large exhibition to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, debuting in summer 2020. The exhibition and its corresponding catalog will highlight women’s changing role in American society over the past 100 years in the hopes of continuing progress towards equality for all. We are very much looking forward to this project, which will also be the NMAI’S 20th anniversary, and I have enjoyed beginning to research this critical, and timely, topic.
What is your dream exhibit to curate? Or see someone else curate?
I would like to see illustrations more widely included in nonspecific American art exhibitions. The illustrators studied and worked among many of America’s great 20th century artists, but their artworks are rarely compared because of the negativity from art critics of the time. Now that public opinions are shifting, I think it would be interesting to explore the influences these two groups of artists, working at the same time and place, had on each other.
The National Museum of American Illustration in Newport, Rhode Island.