Joyce’s Curating Process

Posted by: Valeria Marcus

The following is a conversation between Valeria Marcus ’81 and Joyce Hagen, Curator of Atlantic Cape Art Gallery.

VM: Joyce, how long have you been the curator for Atlantic Cape Art Gallery, located at Atlantic Cape Community College campus in Mays Landing, NJ?

JH: I’ve been the curator since March 2014.

VM: What’s your educational background?

JH: I have a B.S. degree in Psychology from Bucknell University.  I also had several art courses over a four-year period at Penn State University; that included art education, drawing, 2d and 3d design, art history, and independent studies in the arts.

VM: What’s your deciding factor to showcase any given artist?

JH: I like to curate exhibitions that coalate with Atlantic Cape Community College’s academic courses.

VM: What’s your criteria in choosing an artist to exhibit?

JH: Both of my decisions play a part in the quality of artwork.  And I like to combine multi artists with different viewpoints and styles for students to learn value from the art exhibitions.

VM: What procedures do you have in place in acquiring artists?

JH: Overall, I prefer a combination of creating opportunities for emerging and established artists, that convey a particular aesthetic.

VM: Have you ever turned down any artist that approached you for an exhibit?

JH: Technically no, I will ask them to send a bio and images for starters.  However, sometimes I never receive them.  And the ones I do hear from, I place them on a list for future exhibitions based on their artwork.

VM: What is your annual budget?

JH:  Our annual budget for Atlantic Cape Art Gallery is almost $3,000.

VM: Explain your promotional tools?

JH:  We create postcards and flyers through our communication office, and we have a Facebook page.

VM: Is there a learning process in place at Atlantic Cape Art Gallery for college students to acquire the necessary skills to become curators?

JH: No, not at the moment!  However, the faculty are in the midst of creating a new program in the arts and one position will be in the gallery.

VM: What are the pros and cons of being a curator?

JH: The pros are serving the students and being part of their academic education, providing opportunities for artists and installing exhibitions, that set the stage for viewers to observe the artwork in context.  In other words, to tell a story to help the viewer to understand the art and concept of the exhibit.  The cons are when the artwork isn’t appreciated by the Atlantic Cape Community College faculty.  And the students aren’t engaged in the artwork, because the students could learn to be creative writers in comparison on the artwork for an academic source.

VM: Can you elaborate on a successful exhibition?

JH: Two artists became friends as letter writers and made a commitment to write daily to each other.  We had thousands of their letters exhibited along with their oil paintings.

VM: Should curators work solo or as a team?

JH: It depends on the gallery and space size.

VM: Do you see future curators focusing on the issues in America to provoke awareness?

JH: Yes, their mission for the future is very important for the world to understand where we stand.

VM:  What are the major pitfalls curators need to avoid?

JH:  For me, I don’t have to create exhibits to generate money because it’s an academic setting.  And I don’t have to concentrate on the marketing aspect.  Its best to keep the artist and curator relationship on a business level, not a social one.  It’s basically a partnership between an artist and curator.

VM: How can galleries improve in attracting more gallery goers?

JH: Awareness, education and programs to advertise with other surrounding counties, organizations and art groups.

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