started here on February 14th. What attracted you to the university?
I was attracted to the position of curator at the Davison Art Center because
it is a wonderful combination of museum curatorial work and academia. I am
very much looking forward to teaching in the fall. At the same time, I get
to do the curatorial work I love. It is a perfect combination.
How did you get into this type of work?
I have been interested in art for a long, long time. The first one-page
essay I wrote in grade school was titled "What is Art?" In fact, a
classmate swears that on the first day of high school, I told the guidance
counselor that I wanted to be a museum curator, but I have absolutely no
recollection of this! Along the way I thought about architecture, geology,
and a few other things, but always came back to art history and museum work.
What kind of perspective does a curator need for this type of job?
A curator needs to be interested in the physical condition of the art work
as well as the aesthetic issues. To follow the art market in order to
acquire new art wisely. To research and present their findings in a clear,
understandable fashion. To develop his or her "eye" for art, so that they
can trust both their research and their gut response to new work. Curators
need to work well with other people, because every exhibition requires
collaboration with installers, registrars and many, many others.
of education is required?
To be a curator you need an advanced degree in the relevant specialty. For
art museums, either a master’s or Ph.D. in art history or a related field
like archaeology. These days a Ph.D. is preferred, and I am finishing up
mine at Brown University. While the subject knowledge is learned in
university programs, you need to learn the museum skills on the job. I
learned a vast amount during my ten-month fellowship at the Fogg Museum at
Harvard, working under the supervision of Marjorie B. Cohn, Curator of
is most unique about the
Davison Art Center?
has a world-class collection, which it makes available for direct study by
students. The amount of student involvement and access to the collection is
Can you tell me a bit about the current exhibit, A Passion for Prints, that
ends May 22?
The exhibition, "A Passion for Prints: The
Davison Legacy" focuses on the amazing collection of George Willets Davison,
class of 1892, who donated more than 6,000 prints over two decades. The
curators of the DAC will be represented by key acquisitions made to
complement and expand upon Davison's original vision. Working with Interim
Curator Ellen D'Oench, student curators Jesse Feiman '05, and Dan Zolli '07,
have spent the year researching the collection and selecting the prints.
Highlights will include prints by Andrea Mantegna, Albrecht Dürer and
Rembrandt van Rijn
do you spend the bulk of your day? Are you at a desk, out in the gallery or
meeting with people?
A little bit of all three. Doing email and correspondence. Meeting with
various people. Advising students. Regularly going to exhibitions, etc.
a nutshell, how do you create an exhibit? What is the process? And where do
you find the art for the exhibit?
exhibition ideas come from studying the prints, drawings, and photographs in
the collection, and beginning to explore themes or narratives across
individual works and individual artists. These can be developments in
technique, such as chiaroscuro woodcuts, or connected to recent studies in
art history. For some exhibitions, the work comes from the collection. Other
exhibitions are based on loans from collectors, artists, or other
institutions. I'm still mulling over the exhibition possibilities for the
you find your job rewarding?
My job is extremely rewarding. It offers the chance to continue to build a
renowned art collection. I work with wonderful people, and will teach in the
me about your hobbies outside of work.
Graduate school severely curtailed my hobbies. I play a terrible game of
squash. I also enjoy sewing and knitting, which help fulfill my creative
urge. And I spend time with my partner, Michelle Emfinger, who works in
information technology and plays the double-bass.