Encouraging Artists Is My Livelihood
What is part discoverer, part advocate, part storyteller? My livelihood as an art curator.
My childhood experiences in museums and living history farms made the past come alive. As an undergraduate art student, I was given the opportunity to curate an exhibition at the Great Plains Art Museum. I found my calling in the process.
I love fine art, but I don’t make any. My sense of fulfillment comes from facilitating art appreciation and encouraging artists to keep improving. I now do this through art exhibitions at the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art.
This last year, I found a talented Canadian artist who depicts the landscape of the upper Rockies and High Plains in a fresh and confident manner. I am working on an exhibition to introduce this artist and her work to an American audience for the first time. Working for the good of the artist results in good for the public. Our worlds expand.
As a curator, I am involved in all aspects of museum collections and exhibitions; preserving, packing, researching, writing, hanging. But my favorite part is discovering artists and talking with them about what they do. I am in the rewarding position to promote artists by working with them on a project or exhibit that we both strive will touch viewers in a memorable way.
“Look, what I found. Isn’t it beautiful?” my enthusiasm seems to say. “I want you to see it too!”
Ultimately, the work of a curator comes down to storytelling. Paintings, or other types of art, tell stories—about the artist’s personal experience and about the world around us. Art also allows us to project our own stories onto a work of art. The way objects are assembled tells a story. I think deliberately about the stories that need to be told.
Being an artist is a difficult job. You’ve got to have thick skin to be an artist because people will tell you what they think. Bluntly, at times. Artists often go unrecognized, misunderstood, underappreciated. The little I do to encourage artists is a breath of fresh air for them, and me too! Giving is better than receiving.
Amanda Mobley Guenther, originally from Grass Valley, Calif., is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is the curator of Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art in David City, Neb. Guenther is the author of Dale Nichols: Transcending Regionalism (2011). She lives in Lincoln with her husband, David.