“Working with [faculty member] Hou Hanru pushed me to go beyond my own limits.”
At its most basic level, curating involves selecting and bringing together artwork and objects for display. For Frida Cano, an MA student in Exhibition and Museum Studies, curating is also about bringing together people—the creative act of making connections, finding throughways, and activating dialogue.
“I love talking with artists,” says Frida. “It’s one of my passions in life and in art. So I get involved with their ideas and their own processes, and after I get to know certain people, I start imagining all the possibilities of how I can feature their work.”
In fall 2010, with fellow EMS student Claudia Schidlow, Frida curated Artists Leading Artists, exhibited in two parts at the student-run Diego Rivera Gallery and Swell Gallery. Featuring work by SFAI faculty and staff, the show celebrated the academic tradition in which established artists teach and influence the next generation of artists, while the students inspire them in return.
This past spring, Frida curated Liminal Takes–Arte Contemporáneo Latinoamericano, a two-phase show presented at Root Division and the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, both located in San Francisco’s Mission District. “I was very interested in having a venue that could talk both to the general public as well as to the Latino community,” explains Frida, who lived in Mexico City until coming to SFAI. Raising questions of how Latino artists navigate in-between spaces of culture and identity, the show highlighted 15 artists (including several SFAI students) from 10 countries, working in installation, video, drawing, sewing, and other media.
In her own example of “artists leading artists,” throughout these pursuits Frida has valued the mentorship of renowned curator Hou Hanru, chair of the EMS program. “I was his student, his assistant [at the Walter and McBean Galleries], and his TA. Working with Hanru pushed me to go beyond my own limits and gain more skills, and at the same time do my own curatorial practice. It has been one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had in my life.”
* Fundación/Colección Jumex Scholar and Recipient of the Program Beca para Estudios en el Extranjero 2010-2011 del Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes