To be a curator, you need to have a range of skills. A curator is also an art historian, administrator, bookkeeper, public speaker, educator, designer, and sometimes social worker and psychologist, among other things.

And curators are, typically, also writers. They must produce texts of various kinds to accompany and interpret their curatorial work.

I have spent more than 20 years curating exhibitions and other projects and writing about the art, artists, and ideas contained in them.

The opportunity to do this residency at Historic Joy Kogawa House has given me the time to step back and take a long view on my curatorial work, as I enter, for the first time, into writing not about the work of others, but about my own.

Over the course of the month, I have found my writing fueled by many conversations, some planned (the series of workshops for emerging BIPOC curators hosted, in partnership with Or Gallery, as part of the residency) and unplanned (informal chats with friends as we walked through Stanley Park or along the Arbutus Greenway).

Screen shot of Michelle and the participants in the final workshop for emerging BIPOC curators.
Screen shot of Michelle and the participants in the final workshop for emerging BIPOC curators.
While being a curator is a complex role that requires a seemingly disparate range of skills, at its core, curating is premised in the ability to see and appreciate the relationships between things – art, of course, but also concepts, issues, and people.

At a moment in time when so many societal structures are being analyzed, questioned, and challenged, curatorial thinking can be very useful, and perhaps that is why there is this growing interest in digging into the practices and philosophies of curating.

Michelle Jacques