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Michelle Graves

Exhibition: Post Human//Future Tense
Gallery: The Arcade
Exhibition dates: November 1, 2010 - December 17, 2010

How did you find out about DEPS?
I found out about DEPS after attending a show that a colleague, Laura Elayne Miller, curated at the C33 gallery.  Seeing that show made me realize that I could and wanted to curate a show as well.

How long before the opening of your exhibition did you begin planning?
We started writing the proposal one year before the show, so that would have been my first graduate semester at Columbia.  It was a collaboration of the Interdisciplinary Arts and Media grad student group, IMAGe Unit consisting of Nic Ruley, Nick Sagan, myself (and Victoria Eleanor Bradford for the initial proposal writing.)  We decided to make it an international call for work so we knew it would take a lot of planning within that year. 

What inspired your vision for your exhibition?
The idea was inspired by a paper I wrote analyzing the theory of Post-Humanism.  Our generation (of young adults in a modern society) is basically the last generation to know what it is like to grow up without technology.  So we made a call for work dealing with the phenomenon of human presence among the technologically based society. 

What was the hardest part about curating your exhibition?
The hardest part was keeping every detail organized.  A new email address was made so we would all get the emails of incoming submissions, as well as the communication between artists, jurors, logistics of art deliveries, etc.

What was your favorite/most rewarding part about curating your exhibition?
My favorite part about curating the exhibition was actually the curating itself.  I love using my aesthetic taste and figuring out how to place art in a space so all of the pieces compliment each other as well as allow the work to breathe and stand out.  We conjured up an idea to paint the walls grey with white squares that the wall pieces were placed on.  The white square also framed the projections nicely. This particular exhibition focused on new media so there were a lot of videos with audio along with sculpture, painting, installations, and interactive work making the curation a fun challenge.  We also had the performance artist Dani Ploeger come all the way from Holland to perform and participate in a round table discussion for the closing reception.

Has this experienced helped to further your artistic or professional artistic career? If yes, how so?
This experience definitely gave me a boost of confidence to take a leadership role among my peers.  I realized (and what I love about Columbia) is that if you have an idea to do something like hold an event, make a site specific installation, curate a show, it can be done.  All that is needed is someone to take initiative and follow through from beginning to end.  I found that I enjoy being that person.

What accomplishments, artistically or professionally, have you done since your exhibition?
I have been in a few exhibitions myself, since this curation.  A video documentation of Death->Heart->Breath, 2011, an experimental lecture, was on display at the Philosophy and Performance Conference in London, which I attended.  I also completed my MFA thesis in April and was nominated for the Hyde Park Art Center "Ground Floor" exhibition of promising artists who recently completed one of Chicago's top level MFA programs in 2012.

What is your best advice to other students who want to curate an exhibition?
My advice to students wanting to curate a DEPS exhibition is to have multiple people, including faculty, read through your proposal.  They will have great advice to give your proposal depth and breadth.  Also, follow through with your ideas!!!  It is so easy to say that you want to curate an exhibition but to actually follow all of the instructions and stick with the entire process from beginning to end is an amazing way to learn and achieve that sense of accomplishment that we all yearn for. 

What advice could you give about balancing a busy schedule with work, school etc and curting an exhibition?
The best way to keep organized is to write everything down in a calendar.  Write down all notes and made to do lists.  Writing it down (or typing it) makes your brain work so much more efficiently and can help you become a powerhouse of a creative person.

For more information about Post Human, please visit our exhibition archive
For more information about Michelle Graves' artwork, please visit her website.

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Fear into Fire: Reclaiming Black Male Identity Through the Art of Tattooing

Michelle Graves
Post Human/Future Tense