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2012 Future Curators Exhibition at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

"Self Portrait" by Iris Benedikt, a student at Etobicoke School of Arts.


Continuing on the epidermic theme of last years exhibition, Raw, the then “junior” now “future” curators show at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is titled Calloused, in the sense of one’s emotional skin being rubbed by the abrading experiences of life until a resolute hardness is worked on the surface. What is beneath the surface is presented in the work of 13 high school artists chosen by 13 high school curators, now on display in the tunnel space linked to Clifton Hall.

Now in its seventh year, the young curators exhibition is part of the continuing series in experimental art programs sponsored by the gallery’s education department. The department’s professional expertise, along with the currency of social media, has allowed curatorial art students to conduct investigations of great depth into the worldwide arts community, giving them an opportunity to expand their knowledge of the inner workings of a public art museum. Under the vibrant direction of Lindsay Kranz, curators met over the past four months to plan the exhibit taking part in each step of preparation, from writing text to creating invitations bringing their own creative perspective to a professional environment.

Culled from over 700 entries, the chosen work represents students from both public and private schools. In the underground passageway leading to Clifton Hall, well spaced and efficiently lighted, there is plenty of room to see each artwork in turn. There is a quality of empathy and compassion in the work. Though much is self-referential, there is a sense of introspection and a depth of feeling that belies stereotypic presumptions about the aesthetic ideation of high school students. I spoke with Brett Coppins, a teacher from Lewiston-Porter High School, and learned that a good 10 per cent of his students follow through with committed determination to enter the museum’s annual competition. A strong part of that commitment likely follows from the continuity of having the same instructor three years running—again with Internet access allowing students, over time, an in-depth study of artists provoking particular interest.

Part of last year’s premise was imagining an era “free of the pollution of technology”; that is not the primary focus this year. Students have concentrated on presenting their art with sophistication and grace. In addition to an underlying attendance to balancing form, scale, and surface treatment, these student artists project thoughtful personal insights into what modern life requires in the way of creating an armor to face the paradoxical present revealed in paintings, drawings, small sculpture, and ceramic mixed media.

The young curators show continues through June 17.

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