Natural Selection

Curation as an art form

By Alison Rooney

Samantha Palmeri has ordered two new business cards to reflect her separate, but related, working lives: artist and curator.

“I think of curating as another art form,” she explains. At the gallery level, she says, it involves the original vision, choosing the artists, choosing the artworks, hanging the artworks, marketing the show.

“The Marriage Table” (detail), by Samantha Palmeri

“You’re dealing with a three-dimensional space and your job is to find the best way to lead the viewers through that space,” she says. “You’re laying the foundation for their experience. Hanging is more about how the works relate to each other. In my own work, I think about the relationship of abstract forms, and curating has subliminal connections to that.”

Palmeri is curating and exhibiting in a three-artist show, Force of Nature, which opens on Saturday, March 30, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. at the gallery at Create Community in Nelsonville. It will run through April 28. The other artists are Jean Brennan and Greg Slick.

“Double Diamond Petroglyph,” by Greg Slick

While planning the show, Palmeri worked closely with the other two artists to make decisions, “which makes the process much more collaborative. All three of us have looked at the space and gone over the floor plans.

“I also went to both Greg’s and Jean’s studios to see the work and discuss what would work best. Each artist in this instance brought his or her ideas to the discussion of how the work best fit the space and with the other pieces in the show. Each of us has been working on new pieces specifically for this show.

“All that is air melts into solid” (detail), by Jean Brennan

“Texture will play an important part,” she adds. “Greg’s works are rough-textured stonework, picked at with a chisel. Jean makes clear glass vessels with natural pigment liquid inside.”

Two questions Palmeri says she hopes to ask with the exhibit are: What are the origins of art, the forces of nature that compel us to create? And: What links us to the evolutionary and material forces that led to cave painting 40,000 years ago?

“There is a primitive need for humans to put a mark down and call it art,” she says. “It can be intentional or not. All three of us are intrigued in some way with pattern recognition, visual memory, the expression of nature through the body, or the body through nature. These have been fundamental since the dawn of modern man.”

Create Community Gallery is located at 11 Peekskill Road in Nelsonville. (The entrance is around the corner, on Pine Street.) It is open by appointment.

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