When I started my internship as the assistant curator of education at the Woodstock Art Gallery in September, I was often asked by friends and family what my role would entail.
When I started my internship as the assistant curator of education at the Woodstock Art Gallery in September, I was often asked by friends and family what my role would entail. Entering this position, the truth is I wasn’t really sure. Before joining the team here at the gallery, I had some experience in arts education teaching classes in South Africa, as well as some experience working in curation on internship in Halifax, but this position was really my first introduction to the idea of a crossover between these roles.
Fortunately, this job is a part of Young Canada Works Building Careers in Heritage, so the goal is to learn by doing. Some of my duties are more focused on curatorial tasks, such as connecting with artists and assisting with the permanent collection. Others concentrate on educational responsibilities, such as providing art classes and developing programming. Over the past few months, I’ve come to realize that my position is about actively approaching every task from both perspectives, and finding the balance between education and curation
So far, I have found the value of this united approach in the cross-pollination or exchange of influence between these different tasks. When working with learners in the classroom, I have been able to use information gained from working on curatorial projects to enrich the experience. Conversely, observing how learners interact and respond to the art they are seeing in the gallery setting provides insight to improve the effectiveness of exhibitions going forward. This new approach to consciously build education into the curation process has resulted in the upcoming exhibition Plates of Printers as part of the gallery’s winter exhibition offerings.
This exhibition will feature recent acquisitions to the Woodstock Art Gallery’s permanent collection, alongside the work of regional printmakers. The intention of this exhibition is to reveal the “before” and “after” in the printmaking process and highlight printing plates as significant art objects. The educational aim is to provide greater exposure to the printmaking process and explore what it means to translate a physical object into a printed image. Coming from a background in sculpture, I see significant value in printing plates as physical objects. The plates being presented in this exhibition are made of either wood or metal and have been skillfully worked, making them very attractive and satisfying in their own right. Beyond this, I see their importance as being tangible records of the artist’s work and choices. They operate as the evidence of the techniques used, and provide context and insight into the artist’s direction and creative process.
Alongside Plates of Printers, the Woodstock Art Gallery is excited to present two other new exhibitions. In the second floor main gallery, the gallery will showcase Given Her Due: Oxford County Women Artists 1880 to 1980. This group exhibition focuses on the work of the often overlooked women artists in this region from 1880 to 1980. In the Dr. Leonard Reeves Permanent Collection Gallery, guest curator Linda Jansma presents Dance Me to the End of Love, inspired by the song of the same name by Leonard Cohen. This exhibition traces the mysteries of life, through the search for beauty, love, longing and loss.
The Woodstock Art Gallery’s winter exhibitions opening reception is on Saturday, Feb.15, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature a curator walk and talk through Dance Me to the End of Love with Linda Jansma at 3 p.m. The opening reception is free, and everyone is welcomed to attend.
Connor MacKinnon is the assistant curator of education at the Woodstock Art Gallery. His position is funded through the Young Canada Works Building Careers in Heritage program. Connor is currently also an emerging artist-in-residence at the TAP Centre for Creativity in London