The Contemporary Curator

As defined by the dictionary, a curator is, “a keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection.” In the contemporary art world however, we take a different perspective on the roles and responsibilities that this job entails. As described by David Guerra, Director of AREA Gallery and our March 2016 curator of Dualisms, “A curator is a selector and a facilitator, but most importantly, is a connected author of critical narratives that creates social and cultural value.”

Installation View: The Awakening, November 2017

Installation View: The Awakening, November 2017

At Abigail Ogilvy gallery, owner and director Abigail Ogilvy Ryan and Assistant Director, Allyson Boli, typically take on the curatorial role, discovering new artwork that has yet to be exhibited and discussed in the Boston area. We seek out new points of view through guest curators, such as David Guerra (Dualisms), Meredyth Hyatt Moses (An Eclectic View), and Todd Pavlisko (Fuse). This coming February 2018, Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is inviting curators, artists, and collectives to offer a new vision for our gallery, a crucial part of cultivating diverse perspectives in contemporary art.

Whether in a large museum or a small gallery, four things are crucial to the curatorial profession today: the preserving, selecting, connecting, and arranging of art. Every exhibition is more than just the artwork on a wall—it is a long and detailed process.

Preserving: An exhibition is usually based on a theme or topic. It is imperative that a curator chooses work that follows a central theme or starts a conversation with the viewer in some capacity. It is also important that the curator preserves the tradition and concept of the art. The challenge lies in showcasing the work to its fullest potential without glossing over the artist’s inscribed value. Whether a large group show, or a specific thematic exhibition, the curator should preserve the meaning of the artwork and ensure visitors can interact within the dialogue of the show.

Selecting: Once the theme or concept is established, the next step of a curator’s job is selecting the work. The curator can spends weeks, months, or even years during this phase of curation. They will contact artists and galleries, diligently visiting their studios or finding ways to view the work in person. This step includes immense research and discovery in order to learn about each artist’s background and portfolio. When the curator feels they have the right artists for their particular exhibition, they will begin discussions around getting the work to the exhibition space.

Connecting: Connecting the work to the art historical canon is another crucial element of curation. As the definition of contemporary art continues to expand, we must remember that all art is in some way a response to what came before it. The context of a piece must always be considered when building an exhibition. Once that connection is established, the curator will need to find a way to express this vision to visitors in the space.

Arranging: The final part of a curator’s job is to determine how the art they have selected will be arranged and displayed. Keeping the previous elements in mind, the curator must now utilize their own creativity in order to stay true to their theme and enable the art and the environment to become a cohesive experience and form a story. While many of us are used to the “white cube” model of experiencing an exhibition, there are hundreds of ways to display artwork in any given space.

Click to apply for February 2018 Curatorial Role

Artist Spotlight: Kristina McComb

When taking in Kristina McComb's artwork, the journey of seeing all aspects of the piece is just as exciting as the full piece itself. With the layers of photos, steel, and illuminating light, the details collectively come together to produce haunting, yet dimensional images that are hard to look away from.

For McComb, art started with her camera named Jace, taking photos at a summer camp where she worked in the kitchen. After realizing her love for photography, in the spring of 2012 she enrolled at Greenfield Community College part-time to take an Intro to Photography and an Intro to Computer Arts courses. According to McComb “If you asked me at the start of it all, if I thought I would be an artist I probably would have given you a funny "you're kidding right" look”, yet four years later she had graduated with an Associates Degree in Science and Visual Arts with a concentration in Photography. She then continued her education and received her B.F.A from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts in 2017.

Lacy Pathways, Steel, Plexiglass, Transparent Film, 14” x 10” x 7”, 2014

Lacy Pathways, Steel, Plexiglass, Transparent Film, 14” x 10” x 7”, 2014

Materials inform McComb’s creative process. While in school she developed a love for transparent film, however, its fragile state lacks presence when displayed alone. By following her passion for experimentation, she started designing and welding steel frames to display the film. McComb identifies as a fabricator as much as an artist. Her idea of a perfect frame has transformed overtime, once aiming to make each steel box perfect, McComb now finds beauty in the purposefully minutia imperfections. These slight variations in each frame allow her editions to be unique, as if individuals. Consistently re-imagining and re-designing the structure which holds her photographs, McComb places equal importance on her work’s presentation as its subject. 

In her Transparency series, each lightbox seeks to imitate a central marker of time, past, present and future. Each of these lightboxes started with one photograph which informed her other selections. In Present, she started with an image of a door, which metaphorically represents our hope for the future combined with the unknown. In Lacy Pathways, her first photograph was of a walkway representing the different paths we choose. McComb then sources the other two images from her archive of photographs that she has built over the years. While it took two years to complete, McComb always knew she wanted her Transparency series to be a set of three lightboxes. She started her third lightbox, From Times Before, after completing two photography series that dealt heavily with time, details, destruction, and decay and the beauty of those concepts. With these ideas fresh in her mind, McComb chose an image of an hourglass, a more literal image of time. By printing the photographs on acetate and hanging them in back-lit steel structures she seeks to imitate the fragility and permanence of time.

Two Sides of Self #1, Pigment Prints on Acetate, Steel, Plexiglass, LED lights, 10" x 14" x 6", 2017

Two Sides of Self #1, Pigment Prints on Acetate, Steel, Plexiglass, LED lights, 10" x 14" x 6", 2017

McComb’s newest lightbox series, Two Sides of Self, is inspired by her own life experiences. She aims to blend the place she grew up, Western, MA, and her new home of Boston. Unlike the Transparency series, McComb began this piece knowing the exact images she wanted to include in this series. With the knowledge and experience of completing the Transparency series, McComb found her photoshoot to come more naturally as she was able to imagine how her photographs would interact in her steel frames. 

In another series, Manufactured Autonomy: Archive of Flukes, Products of Coincidence, Kristina McComb examines and catalogs the physical intricacies of pearls and the shells that they grow in; such as size, shape, color, texture, and other defining characteristics. The steel books range from six to twelve panels, every pearl photo is completely unique, never repeated or duplicated. The pearl is nothing more than an agitation to the shell that it grows in overtime. Inspired by daguerreotypes, the first commercially successful photographic process, she uses a chemical reaction to rust the metal structure as if they were antique photo albums.

Kristina McComb's practice intersects photography and sculpture and focuses on the impact of time when selecting materials and subjects. For McComb, time stands as a dichotomy as it represents both death and life, it naturally slowly and steadily destroys but also gives life. No part of life is untouched by times impact. 

Kristina McComb, Manufactured Autonomy, Archive of Flukes, Products of Coincidence

Kristina McComb, Manufactured Autonomy, Archive of Flukes, Products of Coincidence

Press Release: The Awakening

Cassandra C. Jones, Todd Pavlisko, Zemer Peled, Rusty Scruby

November 3 – December 8, 2017

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is proud to present The Awakening, an exhibition featuring four artists whose work seeks to expand and play with the viewer’s perception. Cassandra C. Jones, Todd Pavlisko, Zemer Peled, and Rusty Scruby all employ techniques of comprisal, forming careful arrangements that appear effortless from afar. Each artist awakens a different aspect of our perspectives: the physical contradictions within Peled’s sculptures, the societal fallacies engaged by Pavlisko, the interconnectedness of nature, history, and humanity exposed by Jones, and the introspective weaves of memory by Scruby. Every piece begs a second, closer look, and the audience is rewarded by investigation—the work transforms under examination.

Cassandra C. Jones, Pyramid, 24 x 24 in. 

Cassandra C. Jones, Pyramid, 24 x 24 in. 

Cassandra C. Jones’ digitally composited images read at first as botanical drawings. In Seven for a Rose, stems shoot from insect legs and antennae, buds from wings and carapaces, while in Rara Avis, a wallpaper-like floral pattern blooms from a kaleidoscope of fluorescent pink flamingos posed like their plastic counterparts. In Pyramid, what appears to be a decorative pattern, something that may be embroidered onto textile, reveals itself to be a tangle of cheerleader limbs. Jones is adept at burying corporeality and grotesqueness in the seemingly ornamental. She explores the relationship between organic and artifice, the line between something living and a kitschy, saturated representation. Her work is aposematic: it utilizes superficial appeal to draw the viewer before demonstrating the depth of grit of her work, infused with personal narratives, religious allusion, and societal critique; it teaches us to carefully consider things that are bright and eye-catching.

Todd Pavlisko’s tag series cultivates an awareness of what our current society consists of. Pavlisko began experimenting with clothing tags and tag guns over a decade ago. He repurposes these physical representations of affluence and excess as a new medium to explore Pointillist techniques on Pop Art subjects. This amalgamation of styles yields work that is simultaneously collage, painting, and sculpture, while alluding to textiles with its texture and process. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the portrait featured in this exhibition, is a combination of many aspects of national pride: an athlete with a diverse background, known for both his career and a lifetime of activism, he represents material success, moral superiority, and overcoming social barriers. The dollar sign, meanwhile, is Pavlisko’s first icon image, inspired by Andy Warhol’s dollar signs. Both pieces are a critique of American consumerism—the tags, all made in Korea, are foreign components used to create national symbols, awakening the viewer to what may underlie the aspects of society we value.

Zemer Peled’s work awakens the senses with a physical, visceral illusion. Each abstract sculpture is made of thousands of ceramic shards, arranged together to mimic softness—feathers, petals. Created from the inside out, Peled’s process invokes growth and evolution. Each shard is carefully placed, conversing with the others surrounding it until they become part of a single body. Otherworldly shapes emerge, alien flora reminiscent of aquatic forms like coral, sea anemones, and urchins. Their fluid lines imply underwater currents or a gust of wind. This fine, delicate work showcases Peled’s meticulous hand and technical proficiency. Looking closer, we discover that sharp point of each fiber, the brutality underlying something beautiful and seemingly innocuous. The larger implications of this dichotomy existing in a single image encourages the viewer to scrutinize: question the inoffensive, look more closely at the alluring.

Rusty Scruby, Walking Stick: 15, 49.5 x 37.5 x 3 in. 

Rusty Scruby, Walking Stick: 15, 49.5 x 37.5 x 3 in. 

Rusty Scruby’s work looks from afar like a world through frosted glass. The images convey just enough information to form familiar shapes, suggesting a scene with patches of color and allowing the eye to fill in the rest. Up close, each piece reveals itself to be a collage of many smaller images, like the film strip of a moment passed. The photographic compositions emerge three-dimensionally from the wall, creating a visual texture that is felt with the viewer’s gaze through the way the surface of each piece interacts with light. Scruby achieves this through a painstaking analog cut-and-paste process, akin to weaving. There’s a pulse and rhythm to his configurations—repetition with variation, hinting at his background as a musician. Scruby mimics memory with both technique and content: the way we arrange fragments into the narratives of our past, distorting them. Stepping closer to his work illuminates the minutia that can get lost in the bigger picture.

Cassandra C. Jones is an Ojai, California-based artist with an M.F.A. in interdisciplinary fine arts from Carnegie Mellon University. She has exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, most recently at the Abigail Ogilvy Gallery in Boston, MA and Porch Gallery in Ojai, CA, as well as the Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS. She has received a number of awards and residencies, including the Vira I. Heinz Endowment awarded by the Virginia Center of Creative Arts. 

Zemer Peled is a Los Angeles- based artist with an M.F.A (honors) from the Royal College of Art. She has exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, including Sotheby's and Saatchi Gallery-London, Eretz Israel Museum-Tel Aviv and the Orangerie du Senate, Paris. Peled was awarded a highly commended prize at the Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize 2014 with which she has toured internationally. In February - August 2016, she was a visiting artist in resident at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) as well as The Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, MT, USA (2013–2015). 

Rusty Scruby has exhibited both nationally and internationally including exhibitions in Miami, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Philadelphia, Chicago and Seoul, South Korea. In 2011, Scruby received a National Endowment for the Arts grant for his solo exhibition presented by Art Museum of Southeast Texas in Beaumont. His work is in major public collections including: Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Stephen Pyles Restaurant, Microsoft Corporation, Capital One, Lamar University, the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Scruby recently received a commission at his alma matter Texas A&M. He is represented by Cris Worley Fine Arts in Dallas, Texas.

Todd Pavlisko received his BFA in Sculpture and Painting/Printmaking from Miami University and his MFA from Carnegie Mellon University. Pavlisko has most recently exhibited at The University of Massachusetts, Boston and the Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, OH. His work is held in major national and international public collections including the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, Museum of Art & Design, New York, Carnegie Mellon University, PA, John Adams Institute, Amsterdam, and City of Naples, Italy.

Press Release: Natural Bridge

Katherine Taylor & Natalia Wróbel

October 6 - 29, 2017
Opening reception: Friday, October 6, 6-9 pm

Katherine Taylor, "Bird," Stainless Steel, 18 x 7 x 10 in.

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is proud to present Natural Bridge, an exhibition featuring sculptor Katherine Taylor and painter Natalia Wróbel, whose work transforms organic textures and firm shapes into other worldly objects and places. Rooted in nature, Taylor’s sculptures mimic animals but upon closer examination the texture reveals itself to other be drawn from other agricultural objects, creating sculptures that are animal-botanical hybrids. Similarly, Wróbel indulges in the atmosphere of her surrounding, using city sounds, canals, and flowering vines to create portals into liminal realms beyond our physical world.  Both Wróbel and Taylor use their artwork as a means to inspire beauty, truth, and respect in an otherwise imperfect reality.

Katherine Taylor’s process begins outside of her studio walls as she explores the mountains, forests and rivers to find patterns that provide inspiration for her work’s surface. Her choice of medium creates a sense of durability, yet upon close examination the details are delicate, refined, and exquisite. Taylor creates molds of familiar objects- leaves, melons, and tree bark. By casting and shaping in bronze and stainless steel, the earthly textures create the essence of dried elephant’s skin, sleek whale fins, and the boney backs of lizards. Insistent that nature can be brought from the mountains into her studio, “My current practice revolves around tree bark as an artistic medium. To isolate it, I take an impression of the bark using a silicone paste to pick up the pattern and details of the surface. The silicone is food-grade and does not harm the tree. Rather, it allows the tree to travel with me.” Her process allows nature to become part of an artwork that is responsive to the specific site, space and time. Whether small in scale or nearly life size, the sculptures exude a sense of grandeur and profound presence.

Natalia Wróbel, "The Great Mover," Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 in.

In her third exhibition at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery, Natalia Wróbel’s artwork spans from 2013 to her most current works completed in September 2017, created in New York City, Boston, and a recent piece from her time in Amsterdam. Her pieces reference ancient architecture, elements from nature, and neural networks to elicit imagined, meditative pseudo-landscapes. By weaving in subtle hatch-work of marks in complementary colors, more chartreuse greens and yellows, and a few thicker paint applications of the palest pink, Wróbel’s allows her artwork to evolve from her surroundings. She paints as a means to bring harmony to our world, “It is my duty to create beauty for others to behold and enjoy. There is enough suffering and darkness in the world. I will use my energy to create a peaceful resting place for the eyes, mind and soul.” Each painting carries a spirituality that is meant for each viewer to privately interpret, a place of sanctuary and meditation.

Katherine Taylor is a sculptor living and working in Houston. Taylor holds a Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College (1997) and an MFA from the University of Melbourne in Australia (2005). Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including exhibitions at Skoto Gallery in New York, the National Arts Club in New York, and the Hood Museum of Art in Hanover. She is in several public and private collections in the US and abroad.

Natalia Wróbel studied art at Dartmouth College, the New York Studio School, and the Lorenzo de'Medici Institute in Florence. Her paintings are featured in numerous private international collections and have been on view at notable Art Fairs including Art Basel: Miami, Art South Hampton, and Texas Contemporary. She received the New York Studio School Mercedes Matter Fellowship in 2012, and the Murray Art Prize in 2015. In 2016, her painting was selected for inclusion at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston Auction. In 2017, she was awarded a painting residency at the Berlin Art Institute. She currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany.