Once we had our group of the ten most nominated artists, Eugenie and I set out on our part of the collaboration. We visited the artists independently without preconceived ideas about the work we would see or the show it would result in. We wanted the art we would encounter in the in the studios to determine the shape of the final exhibition.
The nominations from the community offered a remarkably broad range of artists and practices. We were struck by the different art worlds represented by the nominated artists. Although painting prevailed, we saw work representing a range of media styles, and subjects. We also appreciated that the artists ranged from the self-taught to the academically trained, and that some are full-time artists while others create their art alongside other careers.
Our challenge was to take this array of options and to think about the show as an entity, including its cohesiveness and scale. We wanted to select a group of artists who would represent the range of those nominated, and the artistic spectrum of those working in Brooklyn. Ultimately we strove to present a strong cohesive exhibition that reflected the artistic choices that reflected the democratic process of GO.
As we deliberated and strategized, we recognized that difficult choices needed to be made. We decided to chose a group of artists that represented the breadth of practices we had seen in the studios and a selection of several works by each artist to convey a sense of depth. Given the size of the mezzanine gallery we had at our disposal, this meant that the group of 10 nominees had to be pared down to fewer finalists.
As with all exhibitions initially everything seems possible until the moment for difficult decisions arrives. We hope that everyone who has engaged in this project will come to see the final exhibition. As we install the show this week, we will begin to see the relationship between the individual works by each artist as well as the conversation between the different artistic voices in the gallery. The distinctive space of the mezzanine gallery presents unique opportunities for the installation and exhibition design, including the placement of informational texts and the inclusion of a community component to reflect the open studio weekend and the tremendous activity that led us to this installation.
Sharon Matt Atkins joined the Brooklyn Museum in 2009 and is the Managing Curator of Exhibitions, overseeing the Museum’s exhibition program. She is the co-organizer of GO: a community-curated open studio project, with Shelley Bernstein. She has coordinated and facilitated numerous special exhibitions, including Andy Warhol: The Last Decade and Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera. Prior to her move to Brooklyn, Atkins had been the Assistant Curator at the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire.