Meet Georgia Erger, Curatorial Fellow for the Hawn Gallery at Hamon

Georgia Erger is Hamon’s first Curatorial Fellow for the Hawn Gallery. She joined the staff last month at the beginning of July 2016. As Curatorial Fellow, she is responsible for much of the work in the Hawn Gallery, including development and installation of three exhibitions for the fall and spring semesters, publicity, and archival management of the gallery’s exhibition history. Previous to coming to Hamon, Georgia was Program Assistant, John B. Aird Gallery, and the Windgate Postgraduate Intern in Museum Studies at the Baum Gallery of Fine Art, University of Central Arkansas. Georgia completed her BA in art history at the University of Toronto, University College, and her MA at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. We are thrilled to have her. Let’s get to know her better…


What drew you to the field of art curator? Who has influenced you the most in your career up to this point, and why?

For as long as I can remember, I have always been consumed and fascinated by art. I first thought that I would like to be an artist, but after practicing studio arts for most of my young life, I realized that my true passion was for art history, criticism, and curation. I was far more intrigued by examining and theorizing about artwork and wandering through exhibitions and museums, than by producing my own art.

I have always been incredibly captivated by the curator, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. I first encountered her work whilst writing my fourth-year thesis on Arte Povera, the Italian art movement that was coined as ‘poor art’ due to its unconventional processes and non-traditional, often organic materials. Christov-Bakargiev had written the seminal text on this radical 1960s and 70s art movement. I was still debating in what career direction I wanted to go, and was thrilled by the idea that someone could delve so completely into what I considered to be the most visually striking and emotionally-charged art works. She has since been an impressive figure in the field, curating biennales and international exhibitions such as dOCUMENTA(13). I have since been influenced by other female curators and directors at the Baum Gallery of Fine Art (Conway, AR) and the John B. Aird Gallery (Toronto, ON) who I have had the great benefit of actually working with and learning from.

As the new Curatorial Fellow of the Hawn Gallery at Hamon, can you tell us about your plans for the fall exhibition?

We will be presenting an exhibition by the St. Louis-based artist, Basil Kincaid. There will be an installation in the Hawn Gallery featuring work from Kincaid’s most recent series, R3clamation and the artist will also develop a performance piece to be presented in conjunction with the exhibition. Basil’s work is aesthetically stunning and powerfully emotive. He reclaims seemingly innocuous materials and debris and repurposes them to create assemblage artworks that speak to a collective past, present, and future. Basil’s Reclamation Project began in 2012, and is a community-building initiative that is intimately relevant to the current political and social climate in the Southern/Midwest United States. In addition to the textile art installation and the site-specific performance piece, the exhibition will also feature video work by Basil.

The exhibition is scheduled to open on Friday, October 28th and will run throughout the fall semester. Basil will be at Hamon in October to install the exhibition and will perform and speak about his work at the exhibition’s Opening Reception.

Which artists do you find most intriguing or interesting right now?

One of my favorite artists working today is Abraham Cruzvillegas, a Mexican conceptual installation artist. He uses found-objects, often collected at the site in which he produces the works, to construct beautiful sculptures and installations. His career has deservedly flourished, and he exhibits internationally. I’ve had the good fortune of seeing a few of his exhibitions, but will forever be seeking out more of his work.

I’m intrigued by artists who are experimenting with new media — film, video, interactive and immersive installation — and pushing the boundaries of what we consider to be “Art” with a capital “A.” This would include such artists as Camille Henrot, Harun Faroki, Tacita Dean, William Kentridge, Stan Douglas, and Ed Atkins.

I’m also always fascinated by the artists who span both decades and art movements, regenerating and reinventing their work. William Kentridge, again, would fall into this category, along with David Hockney, and Giuseppe Penone. Finally, nothing thrills me more than walking into a group exhibition and discovering contemporary artists I’ve never before encountered or heard of.

What do you find most rewarding about curating an exhibition, and most challenging?

I really enjoy collaborating with artists and other art professionals and academics. There are so many moving parts when putting together an exhibition, and as a curator, you are lucky enough to experience all of it. I find it especially rewarding to work with the artist and develop the concept of an exhibition. I enjoy both the hands-on aspect of installing an exhibition and the academic aspect of composing curatorial statements and essays. In many ways, the most rewarding and challenging part of curating for me is one in the same: creating an exhibition that is both intellectually stimulating and complex and also cohesive and accessible.

I previously worked in a university museum and found the university campus to be an exciting setting in which to present art. I’m looking forward to taking advantage of the unique opportunities the Hawn Gallery’s location within Hamon affords and to engaging with the many students, staff, faculty and members of the wider Dallas community that utilize the library.

Finding Shelter: An Exhibition of Contemporary Fiber Art, Baum Gallery of Fine Art, University of Central Arkansas, Conway AR, January-February 2016
Annual Student Art Competitive, Baum Gallery of Fine Art, University of Central Arkansas Conway AR, March 2016

Have you found any interesting or useful materials at Hamon that has helped you with your curatorial work in the Hawn Gallery so far?

I think it’s a very special thing to have a library devoted solely to the arts and I have found – and will continue to find, I am sure – many useful materials at Hamon. I have been taking advantage of the many subscriptions Hamon has to art periodicals and am already finding myself falling behind! I have consulted many of the library’s texts to research artists that we are considering for upcoming exhibitions. In planning any exhibition, you encounter ideas, practices, and art movements that are unfamiliar to you, and it is incredible to have so many resources at my fingertips. I love walking through the stacks on the way to my office; I inevitably find books completely unrelated to what I’m researching or working on, but I have to look at them anyways. In the end, all knowledge is beneficial, and that’s the beauty of having access to libraries.

Besides art, what are your other interests?

I have to admit that I’m pretty absorbed by art. I do absolutely love to travel, and my travels are often dictated by the museums, galleries, and art that I want to see. But I have found that by seeking out art, you are often afforded an enhanced experience as a traveler: you end up in places you wouldn’t have otherwise and are gifted an intimate understanding of a city or place and its culture. I also love to read, particularly fiction. As an undergraduate, I minored in English and Classics and I find myself still pursuing those interests.

Thanks to Georgia Erger, Curatorial Fellow, Hawn Gallery, for participating in this interview!

Featured image: Dan Steinhilber: Primary Developments, Baum Gallery of Fine Art, University of Central Arkansas, Conway AR, September – October 2015

Images: courtesy of Georgia Erger

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