October 27, 2013
As part of the Corcoran College of Art and Design’s Master of Arts in Exhibition Design Fellowship Program, I was partnered with fellow student, Mary Noxon, to design the first show of the fall semester for Gallery 31, the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s experimental exhibition space.
Mary and I worked closely with Gallery 31 director, Joseph Hale, as well as with the show’s curator, Mexicali Rose Media/Arts Center director Marco Vera, and with muralist, Fernando Mendez Corona. The show was the culmination of a visiting artists program run by the Corcoran College of Art + Design and the Mexican Cultural Institute of Washington, D.C., in which Corcoran students and alumni collaborated with Vera and Corona on a mural installation in Gallery 31, and on other arts/community projects around the city.
“The exhibition not only displayed the work of Mexicali artists, but also the contemporary artwork being produced by artists in Tijuana and Rosarito as a display of Baja California border solidarity… Corcoran College of Art + Design, located right next to the White House, provided an ideal platform in trying to send a message with the exhibition about what’s happening on the border besides all of the atrocities, adversity and misrepresentation uttered about in Washington.” Marco Vera for ArtBound. (read the full article here)
The show presented many challenges, both logistic and conceptual.
There would be mural paintings displayed alongside a selected body of artworks, and although we had access to the works for design purposes before installation, the subject matter and foot print covered by the murals was to be a more in-the-moment kind of thing. For the sake of planning, Mary and I arranged the works as a first-draft layout in the space, with ample room for the future murals (the parts of the schematic design covered in hatching, below).
This photo of the the entrance of the Mexicali Rose Media/Arts Center guided our decision-making about the look and feel of the show. We hired a Corcoran undergraduate student to hand-paint the lettering on the title wall—in fact, all of the lettering in the show, including the artist labels, were ultimately hand written. The scrappy, makeshift quality of that look really became the unifying design concept.
Some panoramic shots show the space in it’s final form. We used a series of three red lines of various weights, painted at the same level around the entire gallery, as a way of visually anchoring the works that were not part of the mural, and allowing the eye to follow them around the room.
Everyone had a lot of fun with this project, which is apparent in the installation shots.
The below video goes into more detail about the work of Marco Vera and Fernando Corona, and about the scope of their collaboration with Corcoran students during the visiting artists program—including some awesome time lapse footage of the murals being painted!
Mexicali Rose at Corcoran College of Art + Design from Mexicali Rose on Vimeo.