STILL WORKING! : An Interview with Curator Joan Walton
From September 25th until October 13th Atlantic Gallery is hosting a group exhibition of the Alumni of the Music and Art High School class of 1964. Called Still Working!, the title speaks not only to the metaphor in the song "Still Standing" but to the strength, and dare I say it, persistence of this extraordinary group of talented individuals who all graduated from this esteemed program some years ago.
What inspired you to organize this exhibition?
Still Working! M&A'64, is a collection of artwork by graduates of the Class of 1964 from the High School of Music and Art, the precursor of La Guardia High School in New York City. The genesis of this exhibition was an extremely successful 50th reunion, which inspired the creation of a class scholarship fund and a private Facebook page where alumni began to share their artwork, among other things, with each other. The quality and variety of the artwork was begging to be made public.
Would you consider yourself an artist, ceramicist, educator, curator, and/or organizer?
I consider myself all of the above. And I think of myself as a maker. That is really important to me. Seeing my "hand" in the work that I do is what makes my work unique. The curating and organizing of this show was an extension of my previous career as an art director and producer in the publishing field. As for being an educator, I periodically give workshops in ceramic techniques and have taught at Greenwich House Pottery in New York City. I like being involved in all these pursuits.
How would you describe the artwork you put into this exhibition?
The artwork in the show is very varied. It was exciting to gather such a diverse collection. There are painting, drawing and printmaking; sculpture in clay, resin, glass and mixed media; assemblage and photography. Pulling it all together was a delicious challenge.
What are some of the art works you found most interesting in this exhibition?
I have some personal favorites but they are very subjective. In general I am drawn to the work that exhibits a subtle sense of emotional content.
What did you find to be the challenges to organizing this exhibition?
As a first time curator, the whole process was a learning experience. The hardest part was writing instructions and getting people to follow them. Once I had everyone's submissions, I did not find choosing the work to be difficult. I designed the show by building a cardboard model of the gallery to scale and taping scaled thumbnail photos of the work to the walls and pedestals. It was a lot of fun. In the end there were very few changes on hanging day.
Who would you like to acknowledge or send a special thank you to?
I would like to thank all the artists in the show for having the faith in me to produce a good exhibition. Martha Jasopersaud, our gallery manager, helped to make everything almost seamless and did a great job putting together all the graphics and the reception. Some of the artists helped to hang the show, which was a godsend.
Any other information that you find especially significant in looking at this exhibition?
The 19 artists in the exhibition represent a sampling of the immense creative energy the graduates of this class have put forth over the long course of their art practice. Many of these artists have had full careers as professional artists and others have simply continued to make art in their spare time, but it is all engaging and highly skilled.
Although there are only a few days left to see this engaging exhibition, you should check it out at Atlantic Gallery before it comes down on the 13th Of October (that's Saturday!). I would also encourage you to purchase art work from this exhibition, not only for its aesthetic quality, but a percentage of sales will be donated to the M&A'64 class fund, a scholarship fund they sponsor. And, as Joan Walton tells me, "It began as an alumni Facebook page to share artwork,
among other things, with each other. The
quality and variety of the artwork was begging to be made public." I'm glad it is!
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