Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Interview: David Russick

Aside from being an artist and professor, David Russick is the director/curator of the Herron Gallery. This fall will be his tenth year holding this position at the Herron School of Art. So I have asked David if he would mind answering a few questions for what I hope to be the first in a series of brief interviews with local artists, collectors, and arts professionals.

1: How do you see the role of a contemporary curator in an educational environment?

DR- "I see my role a bit like that of a librarian. In the age of computers and the internet, one can easily make the argument that there is no need for wide spread access to libraries. But I think most of us would agree we would hate to see them go. Likewise, anyone interested in art can view endless examples via their computer. The gallery is important because it provides the spectator with the actual artwork. Like books, first hand exposure to art is a luxury. Happily, thanks to public libraries and galleries, both are luxuries everyone can afford."

2: Do you think that your goals will be any different when Herron begins their MFA program?

DR- "No."

3: How do you go about making choices when you're organizing an exhibition?

DR- "There are many steps, and in each step I try to think like the person involved in that step. For instance, when I am thinking in the broadest sense of what to show, I think about the viewer, what will be most interesting to look at. In the case of working at Herron "the viewer" I am concerned with is always the students. I assume that if I put up an exhibit that engages them and enhances the education they are receiving here at the school, it will certainly be interesting to some reasonable portion of the community at large."

"As my ideas develop, I consider the artist, or artists that will be involved, the collectors, or other institutions that will be involved, and so on. In each case, I try to approach that person or group in a way that will engage them and attract them to what I would like to do. Curating is like raising a child...it takes a village for sure, but there is no substitution for an enlightened and engaged parent. That is the role a curator must play. Stay on course with your ideas, but remain open because it is first and last a communal experience you are after."

4: What plans/goals do you have for the future of the Herron Gallery over the next 5 to 10 years?

DR- "To keep on keeping on. Herron Gallery has demonstrated for nearly thirty years that there is an endless stream of interesting contemporary American art and that the people of this community enjoy seeing what they can of it. As I said before it is a luxury which people, I think, expect in a major metropolitan area."

5: What has been your favorite exhibition you have brought to the Herron Gallery since you became Director? Why?

DR- "I am not sure which has been my favorite, but I can tell you I have never been more pleased with anything than I am with the Public Sculpture Invitational. I think it looks really great on our new property, and it adds something important to day to day life on the IUPUI campus. It also exemplifies what I like to see happen in group exhibits. The mix between well known artists and not so well known artists is the greatest divide between the works included, but because the overall quality of the works presented, that divide is not even noticeable. I love that."

6: What are some of the highlights that we should anticipate in 2006?

DR- "Next month we open Selections from the Thompson Collection. No one will want to miss the opportunity to see this fantastic collection of African and African-American artists. It will be both beautiful and impressive. An expression of real commitment to art. After that, we will open a one person exhibition of the watercolors of Robert Lostutter. Lostutter is, arguably, the finest watercolorist alive today. Both these exhibits should not be missed...both are opportunities to see amazing work not often on public display."

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