Cu­rat­ing the West

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS - Dr. Janalee Em­mer Cu­ra­tor and Head of Aca­demic Pro­grams

What event (gallery show, mu­seum ex­hibit, etc.) in the next few months are you look­ing for­ward to, and why?

I’m prob­a­bly the most ex­cited about two up­com­ing ex­hi­bi­tions. The first is an ex­hi­bi­tion show­cas­ing women artists in our per­ma­nent col­lec­tion, to pig­gy­back with the many cel­e­bra­tions of women’s achieve­ments and the an­niver­sary of suf­frage hap­pen­ing this year and in 2020. The sec­ond is an ex­hi­bi­tion of the photograph­y of New York artist Vic­to­ria Sam­bunaris, who works with a large-for­mat cam­era and pro­duced large pho­to­graphs. Vicky’s pho­to­graphs feel like you are re­ally stand­ing right in the place she took the photo, ex­cept with col­ors and de­tails that you have never no­ticed be­fore. Our ex­hi­bi­tion will fo­cus on her Utah and Western images, which

I think our au­di­ences will love.

What are you read­ing?

Ex­treme Own­er­ship: How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead and Win, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing book about how good lead­ers work with teams, and how to own all out­comes of your de­ci­sions—good and bad. It’s been en­light­en­ing. I just fin­ished read­ing Tara Westover’s mem­oir Ed­u­cated, which I ab­so­lutely could not put down. Her clear writ­ing style was smooth and com­pelling, and it was in­cred­i­ble to see how hard work and ed­u­ca­tion trans­formed her life.

In­ter­est­ing ex­hibit, gallery open­ing or work of art you’ve seen re­cently.

I re­cently went to an ex­hi­bi­tion called Time + Ma­te­ri­als at the Rio Gallery in down­town Salt Lake City. I was re­ally struck with the orig­i­nal­ity of lo­cal artist Jac­qui Biggs Larsen’s work— large col­lages us­ing cov­ers of old beau­ti­ful books, ag­ing pho­to­graphs, and the dis­carded el­e­ments of ev­ery­day life.

I stared at one piece, ti­tled the Al­manack of Hope and Despair, for at least 20 min­utes. It was ex­quis­ite and cap­ti­vat­ing! Highly rec­om­mended.

What are you re­search­ing at the mo­ment?

I’m in early stages of an ex­hi­bi­tion on artists work­ing with pa­per or plas­tic as their pri­mary me­dia. I’ve been re­ally drawn to artists us­ing ma­te­ri­als that are eas­ily re­cy­cled (like pa­per) or are us­ing re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als (like plas­tic) to help us think about our im­pact upon the en­vi­ron­ment. I hope it will be­come an ex­hi­bi­tion in a few years.

What is your dream ex­hibit to cu­rate? Or see some­one else cu­rate?

This keeps chang­ing, as dream ex­hi­bi­tions hap­pen! Cur­rently, we have a wil­low in­stal­la­tion by Pa­trick Dougherty at the mu­seum—and that was ab­so­lutely a dream idea that fi­nally came to fruition. I love walk­ing through our main gallery and get­ting lost in a wil­low won­der­land—it’s mag­i­cal. But, re­cently I have fallen in love again with Ge­or­gia O’ke­effe’s work and I would re­ally en­joy do­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion of our Ge­or­gia O’ke­effe and other women of the West.

Cu­ra­tor Janalee Em­mer dis­cusses art­work in a gallery in the Brigham Young Univer­sity Mu­seum of Art.

Brigham Young Univer­sity Mu­seum of Art Provo, UT (801) 422-5323

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