Guest Curator Creates Deliberate Disconnect In New Exhibit

Guest Curator Creates Deliberate Disconnect In New Exhibit

January 27
21:20 2015

Julian Gill / Staff Writer

At first glance, visitors viewing the new UNT art gallery exhibit coming this Thursday might not know what they are looking at.

“Lost in Trans” will showcase painting, print work, sculptures and installation pieces without any titles or contextual information. The opening reception will be in the gallery this Thursday from 5-7 p.m., and the exhibit will run Jan. 29 through March 7.

“I’m trying to allow people to come in and not feel like they have to be tied to what my narrative is,” guest curator Tempestt Hazel said.

Hazel, executive director of Chicago-based online magazine Sixty Inches from Center, selected artwork from Chicago artists Jeffrey Michael Austin and Derric Clemmons, as well as UNT’s chair of studio art Annette Lawrence.

However, guests at the exhibit won’t know who created the pieces unless the artist’s name is on them.

“That’s the goal,” Hazel said “to erase the didactic and to erase the information so that you have to, as a viewer, find confidence in yourself.”

Austin is displaying a piece he started making just two weeks prior to the event after tossing his original idea. Hazel describes it as a “giant mound of dirt.”

She says Lawrence transforms her journal writing into a visual representation that “straddles the line between chaos and order,” while Clemmons uses symbols and language in his work to convey a story.

Their work will be mixed with art Hazel selected from UNT’s private collection.

“I think she felt like we all had a sensibility that worked together with the stuff in the collection,” Lawrence said.

Hazel first visited UNT on the recommendation of Associate Professor of Studio Art James Thurman, whom she met as a fellow juror at the Oklahoma City Arts Festival.

“As I learned about what she does professionally, I thought she might be of interest to my colleagues and students at UNT,” Thurman said.

She served as a juror for the 54th Annual Voertman Student Art Competition in April, where hundreds of artists in the College of Visual Arts submitted their pieces to be showcased for a cash prize.

In her second visit, Hazel is free to select and arrange the art in her own way, leaving it up to the viewer to find the relationship in the work.

“I want them to decide that whatever relationship they see in the work is theirs and to own it, and it’s right,” She said.

All of the pieces will be revealed once the viewer rounds the corner of a large wall–built specifically for “Lost in Trans” upon Hazel’s request–at the gallery entrance.  She wants people to see nothing as they walk in the door.

“I’m trying to break against what you expect to see,” Hazel said. “This is the first time I’m really going to play with curatorial traditions and shake that up, which is scary to me.”

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