Curating and Exhibiting Art (Don’t Just Do It, Do it Right)

Obviously I’m not an expert but I do know a fair amount about curating and exhibiting work, whether it be in a museum or your garage.

First things first, in order to curate an aesthetically pleasing exhibition you need to have the passion and attention for it. Okay, I get it. You hate the installation process. It’s a long and labor-intensive process, BUT it’s worth it. Chances are if you go into curatorial work with this kind of drive you’re only going to half-ass it and your exhibition will suffer.  Of course we get extremely passionate about the creation process but you need to be that more attentive if you plan to curate your own space.

Speaking of space, you need a space! Of course. Think clearly of how you’d like the work to be seen and felt among your desired audience. Environments can give off a vibe, what kind of vibe that is, is completely up to you but your art needs to correspond to that vibe. You probably wont see a Mondrian or Bernini exhibited in your local coffee shop or tattoo parlor because it’s not the right space for that genre of art. However, make sure you like the space and that it fits the theme you’re going for.

You can’t create an art exhibition without art, whether it’s your art or someone else’s you have to find artists. A MAJOR key is to make sure you like their work as well! You cannot possibly write about an artist’s work if you think it’s mediocre.

So, now you have your space and your art, what’s next? A name! What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. (Shakespeare, please find another home outside of my head…) What do you title your show? Make sure that your title is representational of your exhibition and what it entails.

You also need to create and release a press release/curatorial statement. Your press release should include your “mission” statement, what this exhibition is about, when it is, and who will be in it. Try to stay away from writing about what is supposed to happen or what the audience will experience at your show. The cool thing about art is it is always allows for multiple interpretations, what you see or feel may not be what someone else does when viewing the same work of art.  Also try to include your artists’ statements, they can be as long or as short as you’d like but people who are purchasing or viewing the work may want to know more about who the artist is.

Now that you have your title, statements, release, artists, and your exhibition space you need to create (or have someone create) a logo for your exhibition and a poster. Here’s the poster I created for Efflorescence using Adobe InDesign (JPEG isn’t as high quality as the PDF version):

efflor print JPEG

Whenever you create your poster, just be sure that it has some sort of balance to it. It can be simple like this one or very complex and artsy. The choice is yours.

Now on to actual installation!

Three things you need whether this show is a fine art exhibition or an exhibition taking place in your garage, you need labels, frames (for works on paper or reliefs), and  consistency! A mistake that a lot of us make when installing exhibitions is we lack consistency and proper measurements. If you want your exhibition to look professional, listen up.

When installing, work needs to compliment the art immediately around it, if it doesn’t look good next to each other do not hang it there. It’s all about placement!

Measure the center line or sight line of your walls! The average sight line that most people use when installing is around 57″-59″ An important factor when hanging is to make sure your measurements are precise. Also when hanging, the distance between the outer edges of the wall should be greater than the distance between the edges of your paintings/drawings/etc. Lastly, be consistent with your measurements. When you aren’t you leave a lot of room for mistakes. You don’t want a lot of holes in your freshly painted walls, do you?

Here’s a good article to read on installing wall art: Step-By-Step Guide to Installations

You also need to label your art work.People want to know who this artist is, what’s the title, when it was created, what medium(s) were used, what the dimensions are, and what’s the asking price. Make sure you include all of that information. You can buy labels or you can print them on card-stock and apply them to the wall with double-sided tape. Whichever option you choose just be sure that you use the labels and remain consistent.

As of right now no one knows about your exhibition except maybe yourself and a few friends. The point of an exhibition is to show people your art and for people to see it, you need press. Your space isn’t getting any traction if you haven’t tried marketing it. Post it on your social media, get your friends to post about it, and perhaps get your local news to release press for you.

There’s so much other stuff that goes into curating your own exhibition but these are a few tips that I have learned along the way and would like to share with you all.

As always,

Peace, love, and light. 🙂