“Water Falls” Woolpunk, 2011
Curator and current M.A. in Museum Professions candidate Samantha Becker's debut exhibition, "New World Water," opened at the University's Walsh Gallery on November 7. Her culminating exhibition combines sculpture and art to present the differing interactions and perspectives of water across the world. Arranged in an elegant and free-flowing style resembling a body of water, Becker's show was a display of natural curatorial intuition with a careful selection of art concerning issues of pollution, climate change, community, diaspora, and individual perspective.
Every human being, animal, and piece of wildlife interacts with water differently depending on their environment. "New World Water's" purpose was to present these differing interactions. For some people, depending on specific life experiences, water is dangerous and deadly, while for others, it can be beautiful and serene. In certain areas of the world, water is a representation of wealth and used for leisurely activities, while in others it is a necessity that is often unavailable or polluted. Despite these differences, "New World Water" underscores that water is a staple in every culture and society and provides a sense of community. Historically, communities were formed on riverbanks out of necessity; today, communities contribute to either the maintenance or detriment to the public water supply. The need for water is one of the only commonalities between every human being on Earth.
"New World Water" uses sculpture, painting, and artifacts to present different perspectives of water and the many ways in which humans interact with water. For example, in Smith's untitled piece, an oil painted canvas with a dark background and pops of color depict a dark, night sky and a man standing in a boat, holding a long outrigger to steer. On his boat and outrigger are colorful cultural belongings indicating travel. Smith's piece depicts the use of water in diaspora and immigration, and the danger and unknowingness associated with such maritime travel.
Other pieces in the show reference the human contribution to pollution and climate change, which is symbolized frequently with plastic bottles or objects commonly found in landfills. In her piece titled, "Polar Bear Plight" artist Crasco depicts polar bears in an ice cap on material with varying transparency. The polar bears are slightly more transparent than their setting, signifying that they are disappearing from the scene because of the increasing temperature and decreasing levels of ocean life. Becker also included historical references to water and water management, such as the famous Roman aqueducts and bathhouses.
In January, Becker will become the first-ever student of the Museum Professions' "Producing an Exhibition" course to travel her show. It will open at the Benjamin J. Dineen III and Dennis C. Hull Gallery at Hudson County Community College in Jersey City, NJ. Participating artists in the show are Keren Anavy, Dotty Attie, Aileen Bassis, Adam Brent, Nancy Cohen, Nancy Crasco, Sally Gall, Tai Hwa Goh, Ellie Irons, Anne Percoco, Nyugen Smith, Allan Wexler, and Woolpunk.
"The opportunity to curate at the Walsh Gallery brought me an immeasurable amount of experience and knowledge that I hope to further apply when I open my own gallery. I am so grateful to have the guidance of Jeanne and I hope that everyone enjoyed viewing the exhibition just as much as I enjoyed executing it," Becker said.
Gallery Director and instructor within the Museum Professions program Jeanne Brasile highlighted the learning benefits of the gallery for students and stressed the importance of participating in experiential learning throughout graduate school.
"This was a valuable experience to curate an exhibition before graduation with guidance and assistance of seasoned gallery staff. It allowed Sam to utilize the gallery as a laboratory for learning," Brasile added.
The M.A. in Museum Professions is designed for individuals interested in pursuing careers in museums or related cultural institutions. In addition, the College currently offers an M.A. in Communication with several areas of study. Moreover, four dual-degree options, including three accelerated B.A./M.A. programs and a dual M.A. degree with the School of Diplomacy and International Relations are offered.