Kara E. Gagnon

This past week was a whirlwind of activity. Nestled in the heart of midterms, our gallery opening seemed to be a sudden culmination of all the issues addressed by our class so far. This past Saturday I had the opportunity to go back to Dreitzer with my parents. This was the first time I had been back to our exhibition since the opening on Monday night. The space seemed very different on this visit. As my parents slowly made their way along the walls I tried to see what they saw, I tried to look at the exhibition as though it were my first time in the gallery. I was quite impressed with the professionalism of the presentation. I also was most impressed with our thorough presentation of the works. Although I tried to look at the gallery with fresh eyes, I couldn’t help but to think about all the discussions that took place. I was reminded of the struggle with the captions and the issues with the stretching of the canvases. Each issue that was addressed was evident in the final product; I think our presentation was very self-aware.

Although I wish I could have made more of a contribution to the exhibition, I understand that it was such a big job, and the reason it was so successful was because we all did what little part we could. The best of the whole process was learning about the paintings and then applying the new knowledge to and appropriate method of display. I wish I could have been present for more of the interviews, but I was lucky enough to hear Franco’s response to the art. I was also glad I could be part of physically creating the exhibit. Seeing the labels on the wall, and knowing that I had a part in actually cutting them out and obsessing over the their edges, added to the satisfaction of the professional presentation of the show.

However, I think that the most exciting part of the whole project is that we are only at the beginning. The more that we accomplish, the more I become excited about our further projects with these paintings; the library exhibition is an excellent chance to let the project grow. The original exhibition was exciting, but it was clearly the jumping off point for further projects, the audio, the catalogue and the website. Unfortunately, I was unable to put a considerable amount of time into the Dreitzer exhibition because of other commitments, but I see now that the opportunities to work with these paintings are still available. I look forward to what we can do as a class and the opportunities I still have to explore the project further.

This website has been developed by the Museums and Public Memory (Anth 159a) class taught by Professor Mark Auslander at Brandeis University. Images have been reproduced with the permission of the African Refugee Artists Club.