Image Paul Kaiser. Graphic Design Maura Frana.
House Project was an exhibition that focused on Connecticut artists, as well as objects and artworks from their collections. I curated it with the assistance of Maura Frana for the Westport Arts Center. The exhibition took place in a vacant home at 54 Bayberry Lane, Westport, Connecticut, for two days (April 25 -26, 2009).
Because the home was for sale, visitors wore booties over their shoes or went barefoot through the three-floor edifice, immediately making it a unique viewing experience. The environment was intentionally formatted to be an exploration of space and artworks. Walking the line between home show and gallery space, the exhibition questioned the easy acceptance of either format. Each room intimated a theme or played off the materiality of a group of works. The mix of objects, artworks, and the existing architectural elements, created a serpentine string of mini-exhibitions designed for this specific domestic setting. One curatorial goal for this exhibition was to creatively address how home can influence, enrich, and perhaps complicate the artistic process. The associations, like the installation, were loose and improvisational, giving each viewer the room to incorporate his or her own perspective about how the art might allude to or question domestic spaces and experiences.
This Connecticut-inspired exhibition is the first curatorial project I undertook as the Director of Visual Arts at Westport Arts Center. The thought of an exhibition inspired by Connecticut artists and in an empty house came to me before I knew a single artist in Connecticut, making it a challenging project to pull off in less than three months. Essentially, House Project is the result of my early explorations of artists and collections in the area. It brought together a mix of generations, ranging from Yale MFA students such as Alex da Corte and David Bush to longtime Westport artists such as Alberta Cifolelli and James Reed -- and then adding emerging local artists such as Mauricio Higuera and Jahmane to the mix. Bringing gems into the exhibition from artists' collections and ephemera in their studios was a way to introduce pop culture items, decorative arts, and historic works, including 19th century French etchings and lithographs, kitsch clocks for the kitchen, and artworks by non-local contemporary artists such as Jim Dine and Loretta Lux.
- Terri C. Smith