Emergent 2019 is shaping up to be another amazing exhibition showcasing the absolute best of our talented local VCE art & design students. It all kicks off in the Studio from Saturday 29 February to Sunday 15 March - come see some truly wonderful work from up and coming artists!
And in keeping everything local and student led, we chatted with our talented student co-curators Brayden Dopper & Hetvi Dave to learn what really makes them tick as well as their process for pulling together Emergent 2019!
Tell us about yourself!
Brayden Dopper: Hey! So, my name's Brayden, I'm 17 and a student at Gleneagles Secondary College, and I had the pleasure of being part of the team for Bunjil Place's Emergent 2019 exhibition! This year I'll be studying Studio Arts, Visual Communication, Psychology, Sociolinguistics, and German--which ties pretty close to my creative interests and constant inquiry. I think it's important to always be asking why, and as such I'm into neuroscience, sociology, and of course the creative arts. Basically I love learning about why we like what we like, why our brains are how they are, why certain things 'look good' where others don't, and applying all that to my creative work!
Hetvi Dave: Hi, my name is Hetvi, I am a year 12 at Berwick College, and I was the co-curator with Brayden for Bunjil Place’s Emergent 2019 exhibition. I am currently studying; Psychology, Visual Communication and Design, Chemistry, Maths Methods and English. I have always been interested in design and science subjects and finding a way to incorporate both of them into my projects.
Why did you apply to be a co-curator?
BD: My art teachers at school actually thought I'd be fit for the role and expressed the opportunity to me--which I am very grateful for--and as I saw it as a peek into the curating and gallery scene and an opportunity to ask a bunch of questions and learn a lot in a productive manner that amounts to a communal product! It was a golden opportunity for me, really.
HD: I had applied as I wanted to be able to experience how the selection process is done and what goes behind the scenes to create an exhibition. I had first heard about the program when the other curators came to my school to inform us about the new program they were organising for year 11 students and I was so excited for the opportunity.
Describe what was involved in being a co-curator?
BD: Once we had sorted how to tackle the Great Abundance of Snackage™ that was supplied for us, we went on to judge the entrants' work through rating them over a number of categories after some really engaged discussion about each work. Our judging really felt fair and respectful, and that amounted to the 23 applicants' works being in the exhibition. We had shortlisted entrants based on raw scores and then had lengthy discussions as to what would make the cut. Then, after having a chat in the Studio space we discussed the actual composition and curation of the works in the space. Hetvi and myself had grouped the works by theme and tone, relying on our experience in previous galleries and our intuition to make the space really cohesive and flowing. We also discussed the design of the space and were welcome to pitch our ideas--of which were held throughout the further curatorial process--our work really felt contributive and I'm glad for that.
HD: The first few meetings mostly involved us huddled together looking at the applicant’s work and scoring them based on the materials they used, their concept and other factors. This was the time where we had in-depth conversation about the meaning behind the artwork and tried to put ourselves in the artist’s headspace, which helped us to better understand the nature of the piece. After the applicants had been shortlisted, we started to group the artwork by the colour scheme and the overall theme which helped Brayden and I to think of the overall theme which would run in the exhibition space.
What did you enjoy about the process?
BD: Throughout the experience there was always some super in-depth discussion about the works and the exhibition as a whole. Although it was structured and organised it didn't feel so procedural, it was really an intimate and emotive process that valued open discussion and the means as well as the end. It was also more hands-on than what I had initially expected, with the organisation of works over the tabletop helped us really get a feel for how the exhibition would flow--it felt like a nice showcase of our abilities and our input really felt valued and contributive. Ultimately it was a super engaging and collaborative experience that's worthwhile for anyone to do in the years to come, and I'm glad I didn't pass up the opportunity.
HD: The entire experience was so enjoyable as everyone was really warm and welcoming and valued our opinion and there was always something to talk about whether it be about the artwork or just about us. Even though the whole process was supposed to be completed by a certain date, it never felt as we were being rushed to make a decision that we were unsure or not in support of. The experience was really inclusive, as we were included in nearly all the decisions that were related to the exhibition. To sum up it was a worthwhile and a remarkable experience to be a part of the behind the scenes of an exhibition and I am so thankful that I got to be a part of it.
What did you look for in the artworks selected?
BD: I'm glad that the Bunjil Place team values the variety of purposes of artworks without an agenda or preference of messages. As such we really looked for the success the entrants had in executing and communicating their concept and objective, and the technical and aesthetic skills with which they did so. Some works were very aesthetically strong, but lacked the communication of their theme, and didn't make the cut. Some works could be considered less a showcase of technical skill but rather the conveyance and representation of a concept--some of which we found very impactful and moving, and as such were included. At times we had disagreements regarding works, but I had found it very productive that our perspectives were challenged and we could come to an objective decision that we all agreed upon.
HD: We looked for multiple things in the applicant's work, such as their execution skills, the concept and the technical side of the artwork. Even in disagreements about certain pieces we looked at the concept of the artist and then decided if the artwork was included in the exhibition or not. Artworks with less focus on their concept and their theme but spend more on showing their technical skills were not accepted into the exhibition. Artworks that had shown that they had stayed true to their concept and their inspiration had made in in the exhibition as that not only creates impactful pieces but they were also more personal to the artist.
What do you want to do in the future?
BD: As much as the aspiration is to be a practicing artist, I actually have a really strong interest in teaching and education. I think skills of creative and lateral thinking aren't fostered as much as they should be in school environments, and I see a lot of students who may not be academically performing as well as they'd like, but have a creative exceptionality that's waiting to be developed. I'd really love to work with 'gifted' kids with learning difficulties or issues that as a result of their giftedness goes unseen (this is called twice exceptionality, or 2e) and vice versa--i think it's important to have environments to foster exceptionality beyond academia, and accommodate students with a difference in cognition that goes unsupported. So whatever role I take that can contribute to those goals is one I will gladly pursue. I think so long as I am giving back to the community and leaving a better environment for the students and creatives to come, I'll be content.
HD: Being in the last few years of high school there is enormous pressure put on you for selecting a possible future career option. I have always had an interest in art, design and science, even though they are polar opposites, I know I want to go in a field where both are used. While studying architecture at school for Visual Communications and Design, I though this might be a good way to mix both art and science, especially due to the increase in environmentally friendly buildings. I really enjoy creating a functional space that doesn’t contribute to an increase in carbon emissions but stills feels homey. I think that it is important to not forget the fact that we are under a big problem that is rapidity increasing; climate change. I think everyone must do something to decrease the impact humans are having on the environment and I want to help decrease the carbon footprint of humans.
What do you hope visitors will enjoy about Emergent 2019?
BD: We put a lot of work into the curatorial process as a collective. It felt like a strong collaborative effort that was engaging and was one that I personally really enjoyed, so I hope visitors can see our passion and the fun we had in creating the gallery experience as they walk through it. I hope visitors really take the time to soak in the hard work of our entrants, but I'm sure their unique messages will be conveyed with engagement and clarity, however of course the bottom line is to have fun! Enjoy the space, and really see it as a communal space of collaborative effort, I'm sure you'll all enjoy it!
HD: All I can say is we have put a lot of work in creating the exhibition, from going through the applicants to designing the exhibition space, which we have all enjoyed very much. We all hope that the visitors can see and acknowledge the effort we have put into creating the exhibition to display the artworks of the VCE students that spent an entire year in designing and that they just have fun and enjoy the experience.
Image: Installation view, Emergent 2018: VCE Graduate Showcase, 2019