Collectively written by
Alison Bergblom Johnson, Alexandra Buffalohead, Keisha Williams.
Dear ECI Community,
In an effort to provide more transparency, we as the 2020 jurors for the Emerging Curators Institute’s (ECI) Fellowship would like to share a statement about our jurying and selection process for the second year of emerging curators. First and foremost, we acknowledge the immense influence that white privilege has on the arts and cultural sector as a whole and more specifically within the curatorial field. We would also like to acknowledge the reality of colorism and the privileges that come with it. Historically and in the present day, the curatorial field and arts and cultural leadership are dominated by white male identifying people in most organizations. That is why ECI is vital to the future of curatorial practice in Minnesota and beyond: ECI was created to expand the field and ask critical questions about the current practices of curating.
However, in this we must also recognize that our applicants come from many intersectional and diverse backgrounds, identities, interests, experiences, cultures. ECI and the 2020 jurors will not contribute to the historic and current erasure of BIPOC identity: this includes various Native Nations and their right to multitudinous interpretations of the use of “Indigenous” (in North America and globally). We will not play into the colorism and whitewashing of identity that further contributes to cultural erasure and it is not our responsibility (or that of anyone) to dispute the heritage or qualifications of the selected applicants.
The wealth of talent in the Minnesota arts and cultural sector has meant that this year’s application process was highly competitive. There were a significant amount of well-planned, moving and thought-provoking applications. As part of the selection process we reviewed all proposed exhibitions, image samples, statements of interest and resumes to independently score. Jurors were provided with applicant names. All applicants were able to speak to their own experiences and backgrounds in the method of their choosing. After proposals were scored, the highest scoring applicants were collectively discussed by the jurors to make a final selection of the four fellows.
We were asked to consider each application with the following criteria:
a) Emerging status – defined by a limited amount of experience in the field of curation,
b) Promise of exhibition proposed,
c) Diversity in ideology, background, discipline, geography and ethnicity,
d) Opportunity to benefit – how would the program impact the applicant.
In addition to this criteria, we as jurors declined to move forward with applications without evidence of a strong connection between the community the work was focused on and the applicant. The jury process was collaborative, and also aware of the potential and labor represented in many, many thoughtful proposals.
We are very confident in our selection and believe that all four of the new ECI fellows fit strongly into the review criteria and organizational mission of ECI. All emerging curators will be encouraged and challenged to bring in intersectional dialogue, knowledge, and expertise not only from their personal backgrounds but the mentors, partnerships, research and artists that they wish to collaborate with. As has become very prevalent in the curatorial and wider arts and cultural world, curators can no longer be the sole contributor to narrative; a truth that ECI and the 2020 jurors hold firm. We believe in fostering a learning environment of critical exchange where emerging curators break past the traditional definitions of “curator” —one of sole creator and expert of a narrative of their choosing. ECI seeks to honor BIPOC visibility in the arts on their terms as both a revolutionary shift to the curatorial field and as a necessity for future curators.
We firmly believe that our selection of new ECI Emerging Curator fellows bring a wide range of diverse and intersectional experiences that will enrich not only each other, the Minnesota community and the ECI program as a whole.
Alison Bergblom Johnson, Alexandra Buffalohead, Keisha Williams