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Gabby Coll

Gabby Coll

2019/20 Emerging Curators Institute Fellow.

How did you meet each other? What interested you in a collaborative project together?
We “met” when I started working at JXTA, in May 2018, but quickly realized we had gone to elementary/middle school together!

We found out we were both interested in applying to the program through our mutual colleague and friend, Tia Simone-Gardner. She actually suggested to me that we think about applying together, if it was something the program would allow. Once Adrienne and I started talking, we realized that we were excited about similar things, and that there was some energy around Adrienne’s previous project Burn Something Zine (BSZ). Plus, applying together made sense; we already worked together so we knew collaborating would be viable, we’d be able to hold each other accountable, bounce ideas off of each other, and carry on the energy of Burn Something, which was/is a collaborative project in itself.

You both have roots in the literary arts – Gabby wrote for the Walker Reader, MPLSArt, Current Blog and In Studio Magazine, while Adrienne founded and directed Burn Something Zine. Tell us more about your project with the Emerging Curators Institute.
Our project will carry on the work started in 2014 with BSZ, which was a submission-based zine of written and visual work by women and gender non-conforming folks of color in the Twin Cities. We will carry on this work by curating an exhibition of visual work that responds to the themes present in the Burn Something series – including memory, loss and longing, care, survival and the impacts of personal and cultural trauma on the bodies of POC. We hope to re-integrate and reinvest in this local community; we plan to involve the original contributors to BSZ in at least part of the process (and they’ll be invited to submit work to be considered for the exhibition, too). We hope that this project for the ECI will be a catalyst for further work and community-building; we hope to eventually publish an anthology of this work!

How will your fellowship with the Emerging Curators Institute further your practice?
This is probably different for both of us, but for myself, I’m excited to research for and produce an entire exhibition from conception to final exhibit/programming. I’ve had professional experiences in museums and galleries, but, even though I studied Art History in undergrad, I’ve never curated an entire exhibit from start to finish. I’m excited to flex my creative muscles, meet more artists in the Twin Cities, and face the inevitable challenges that arise when curating/producing an exhibition or event.

What advice do you have for emerging curators, performers, artists, or creatives?
Say yes to opportunities that you’re excited about, but set boundaries for yourself. There’s nothing worse than burning out (I know from personal experience). It’s never inappropriate to ask for compensation for your work, and it’s important to work with folks who will value your perspective and input. Also, keep your ear to the ground! There’s so much happening in so many different corners of this city/state; it can be overwhelming, but it’s mostly exciting to build up your network of friends, peers, and collaborators.

When it comes to communal spaces, institutions, or programs, what would you like to see more of in Minneapolis?
In institutions: more meaningful investment in and prioritization of diversity and inclusion initiatives (not just lip service). It’s one thing to say that you’re committed to welcoming more diversity, but what work are you doing to actually (and continually) make these spaces accessible? 

More programming that centers the voices of POCI and other marginalized communities – this is one reason being a part of the ECI is so exciting; there’s been a real commitment to prioritize this in all of the programming.