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What have you learned from running Subterranean?
I started the space when I was a senior at KCAI. The gallery taught me how to write my first press release, and it took me two weeks to get through it. I feel so much more competent in my writing, and I feel like going to graduate school would help me continue to push that and give me reasons to really hash out the concepts I'm working with. At the gallery, I'd end up writing about other people, and it would tie back to my interest in the context of the space: What does it mean that it's here?
For all the schools I applied to, my work at Subterranean was central to the process. I used a couple of undergrad pieces in my portfolio, but it was really about showing my works in an institutional setting. It's all about referencing the domestic in an institutional setting.
That's related to how cities get gentrified. My gallery is the absolute common Kansas City basement that's completely unfinished, and I've transformed it. The midtown basement feels iconic to me. When I go to people's houses, I'm always like, "Can I see your basement?"
Is that kind of project something art people are talking about?
I'm not sure, and that's part of why I want to go to graduate school and study. And I've been living in this basement with no windows, and I get into cycles of my projects.
Who or what did you model Subterranean on?
I guess my predecessors are people like Michelle Grabner. She runs a space in Chicago called the Suburban. I always find out about these people way late in the process. I'm always finding out too late. She runs this space in the suburbs of Chicago, and she creates art objects like, for example, works that are paintings on canvases, and on the back you'll see stuff stuck to the back of the canvas, home objects. Like, this [object] was in the vicinity of the piece and it got stuck to it. She's always questioning the line between where art should be in daily life. I'm in the same mode. The art I interact with on a daily basis makes up the ways I organize the world and plan my life.
How, for instance?
With Curatorial Studies, I was really feeling tongue-in-cheek about this thing I was thinking about doing. I was inherently feeling very skeptical about it. I was like, "Look, I'm studying curation."
Titling an exhibition Curatorial Studies was a pretty deadpan move.
I have a group of friends who are my editors, and I send stuff to them across the country, and they send me thoughtful and wonderful edits back. A couple of them, when they read my press release for that show, were like, "I don't know about the title."
This whole process has been about me trying to find out what a curator does. I'd meet with people for a month straight, and that definition is changing so rapidly anyway: Tumblr and other kinds of things, anything you like.
Has the word curate lost its currency?
I just think the word has changed in meaning, unless you are the museum curator at a big institution.