Curator Lauren Nye visits PCA&D Oct. 22 to present Artist Talk
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Monday, October 18th, 2021
When Lauren Nye graduated with her BFA in sculpture and art history, she wasn’t sure where her career would take her.
What she did know was that she wanted it to be in the arts. She knew to take advantage of opportunities when they arose, and she knew to pull in experience wherever she could.
And when it came time to combine her skill set with that passion for art, a career in the field of curation just clicked.
The former Gallery Director at Isadore Gallery and at Tellus360, both in Lancaster, Nye now serves as Director of Exhibitions at Susquehanna Art Museum in Harrisburg. On Oct. 22, she visits PCA&D to discuss her career trajectory as a curator, to show examples of exhibitions she has curated, and to give advice to students interested in this career path. A 2010 graduate of Millersville University, Nye holds a BFA in sculpture and art history, and has been with Susquehanna Art Museum for eight years.
The event is sponsored by the College’s Photography & Video Department.
What was your biggest hurdle or challenge when getting started? (was it getting your foot in the door? A specific exhibition that was challenging? Making connections? Or something else?)
Lauren Nye: A significant challenge when starting my career was gaining the hands-on experience that I needed. No amount of theoretical learning in a classroom can prepare you for the peculiarities of designing and installing an exhibition, especially because each gallery or exhibition space is different. Real-world experience was one of my most important teachers. Offering to help with installations in different spaces, even on a volunteer basis, was a huge help for me. Getting to work with experienced art handlers and designers was key.
Artist Talk: Lauren Nye
Friday, Oct. 22, 2 pm
Open to the public; masks required
You went right into managing an art gallery right out of college, so was this the career path you always hoped to go into as an artist?
LN: I had no firm plan for my career out of college. I just knew that I wanted to work in the arts, and allowed myself to be pulled in different directions as opportunities presented themselves. I enjoyed working in my university’s galleries, and always offered to help install exhibitions so that I could have some experience to build from. I also worked as a studio assistant for a number of artists in the area. One of them was represented by a small commercial gallery in Lancaster, and he knew that they were looking to hire a new gallery assistant. He encouraged me to apply for the job, which I did.
What’s the most fulfilling part of being a curator?
LN: I love doing research and learning about new things while planning exhibitions. Because the museum I work for is non-collecting, each of our exhibitions has to be lent from outside sources. Each exhibition presents a new opportunity to take a deep dive into different subject matter so that I can write about the pieces on view and give informational tours. In this way, my job changes and presents new challenges throughout the year.
On the flip side, is there one thing that’s universally challenging about it for you?
LN: My job requires a high level of organization to keep all of the exhibitions running smoothly. We present 12-plus different shows a year of various sizes, media, and sources. They come from other museums, private collections, artists, and commercial galleries. There are many moving parts involved in planning each exhibition because no two are alike. And no matter how prepared I am, each show presents a different challenge that couldn’t have been planned in advance.
For you, what would be the ultimate exhibition to curate? A specific artist or topic, or something else?
LN: My personal passion for art tends to skew towards modern and contemporary movements, and I enjoy visual minimalism in exhibitions. One artist I’ve always been passionate about is Janine Antoni. Her ability to convey a concept without being limited to one medium is inspiring, and I have never had the opportunity to loan her work. It would be a dream. It’s also important that my personal tastes don’t encroach on my work at the museum, though. I’ve had the ability to install artwork by world-renowned artists, and it never gets old. Sometimes it borders on surreal when I’m holding a piece that I’ve studied in a classroom.
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