Curated by Deborah Loxam-Kohl
Artists: Patricia Lee Sunduk, Melissa MacLean, Lisa Christie, Kendall Willson, Teyana Neufeld, Hannah Everitt, Paige Faraci, Michèle Grenier, Pamela Mark, Gita Moore, Helen Robertson, Elizabeth Glowacki, David Abrosimoff, Suzie LaRose
Kootenay School of the Arts at Selkirk College (KSA) in Nelson, BC, is dedicated to graduating students who will be able to make a living through their art and craft studio practice in Jewelry and Small Object Design, Clay, Fibre (two-year diploma) or Metal (one-year certificate). The curriculum emphasizes studio skills, creativity and business practices, directed by a faculty of practicing artists and craftspeople. Field trips, visiting instructors and opportunities to exhibit and sell work add to the student experience.
The KSA Grad exhibition is a culmination of the student’s strongest, most developed work, produced in the final year of study; for some it is their first public exhibition of work. In addition to the opportunity it provides for exhibition of the work in a dedicated public exhibition space, the weeks of preparation leading up to it are an exercise in fine-tuning the small details of the work, considering the presentation of the piece, resolving display issues, and installing the work (often for the first time for larger, more complex pieces) – essentially a primer in working with a public gallery.
Through this process my role has been less of a curator, selecting works around a set theme, and more of a coordinator, acting as a bridge to facilitate the process. By the time I visited with the students in their studios in late March, the majority had settled on the work they intended to show and it was more a matter of addressing display options to ensure the secure and professional presentation of the work. This involved one-on-one discussions about the intended display methods, the benefits and disadvantages of each and how they might support or detract from the work and how its read or perceived; and offering suggestions on hanging/installation hardware and methods so the student could make an informed choice about the presentation of the work. From there, the next step involved assessing available display options (from the selection of plinths, stands and built-in wall cases maintained by the gallery) or building/acquiring structural elements to support the work; and considering added measures for items requiring additional security or stability (such as small items of jewelry or a functioning water fountain).
The final exhibition is a representation of both the skills learned over the course of their education and the brief but intensive primer the students received on installing the work for exhibition. The latter complements the former, adding depth and understanding to the skills learned in the classroom and studio, providing the students with a well-rounded education in the practice of being a professional artist or craftsperson. This exhibition marks the completion of studies and the start of studio practices, for which they are well equipped.