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Students curate exhibit at Snite Museum

Students select photographs for exhibitStudents select photographs for exhibit

During the Fall 2010 semester Assistant Professor of Art History Micheline guided students in FINA A-470 Problems in Art History, “Curating an Exhibit,” through the process of curating an exhibit at the Snite Museum at the University of Notre Dame.  Since none of the ten graduate students and three undergraduate students had produced an academic exhibit before, Nilsen pushed them to step outside their comfort zones. The exhibit, Nineteenth-Century Landscape Photography of the Americas: Artists, Journeymen, or Entrepreneurs? , was organized solely by the students with Nilsen’s guidance.

The students researched many ideas and theories of what constitutes landscape, the development of photography in the nineteenth-century, and what an exhibition needs to be successful. They were responsible for, choosing what photographs are to be exhibited, the secession of photographs, what overall focus the exhibit has, along with many other marketing tasks. In doing so, the students found themselves, often debating what approach should be taken to make the exhibit a success. Through research and conversation throughout the semester and visiting other exhibitions, the class was excited by and compelled to the photographs that depicted landscapes in the Americas. These photographs are from the United States, Mexico, and Brazil, created by several artists, such as the American; Timothy O’Sullivan and Brazils Mark Ferrez.

 Along with curating the exhibit, Nilsen was able to find funding to publish an exhibition catalog. This catalog contains student essays with information about the artists, the photographs, and historical context of the landscape photography. This catalog will help the viewers to have an overall understanding what urged these photographers to take their work out into the openness of the landscape. It also explores the purpose of the photographs, and the reason why nineteenth-century landscape photography is being displayed in museums for the first time as art and not just artifact.

The exhibition opens February 13, 2011, and runs through March 27, 2011. It will be held in the Scholz Family Works on Paper Gallery, at the Snite Museum, on the campus of Notre Dame. The opening reception is Feb 13, 2011 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.