Archive for June, 2018

Meet Our Curators: William Coleman and Amy Hopwood

William L. Coleman, Ph.D. is Associate Curator of American Art.

What is your role here at the Museum? 

My focus is on the world-class colonial and nineteenth-century American collections, with a particular interest in landscape painting. In addition, I am assisting Curator of American Art Tricia Laughlin Bloom with the catalogue Arc of Abstraction and the overhaul of our modern and contemporary galleries. Day to day, I conduct research on both objects we already own and potential acquisitions that could fill gaps in the collection. In addition, I assist scholars and members of the public with inquiries about early American objects and represent the Newark Museum to the wider museum and academic communities

What makes your work at the Museum important?

This institution has one of the most important collections of early American art in the world. As a result, this part of the collection is the subject of frequent inquiries from a wide range of constituencies, including other institutions who hope to borrow our works for temporary exhibitions.

What projects are you working on currently and long-term?

My immediate priorities are to devote more attention to our still life and genre paintings, hugely important in their period but often overlooked here because the major landscape holdings demand so much attention. In the longer term, I am laying the groundwork for a variety of projects that relate to my piece of the collections, including an idea for a show on global art colony movements.

Where is your favorite place to have lunch in Newark?

La Cocina on New Street for delicious Cuban food.

Do you have a favorite collection piece? 

My current favorite is Albert Bierstadt’s intimate but virtuosic Sunshine and Shadow, now on view in gallery N115. This intimate work in oil on paper mounted on canvas is very different, both in its subject and scale, from those people might expect from the artist. His virtuosic handling of light in this beautiful little painting urges greater attention to the technique at work in his sweeping Western views, not just the big ideas that technique was used to convey.

Amy Hopwood, Associate Curator of Decorative Arts

What is your role at the museum?

For me, being a curator means developing, protecting, researching, exhibiting and promoting the Decorative Arts collections to the Newark Museum members, to the public and to students and scholars. Each day brings the possibility of a new inquiry; an offer of a donation; discussion with the Registrar’s department about cataloging, storing, conserving, lending or displaying the collection; or speaking with the Exhibitions and Education departments and docents about interpretation. All of these discussions give me opportunities to study the objects within the Decorative Arts collection, in order to know them better and build a foundation for all the other projects connected to the collection.

What is your background?

During college, I interned at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and created my own project to catalog and research historic clothing discovered in the Amherst College Theater Department’s costume collection. The 19th- and 20th-century clothing had been donated and used as theater costumes over the years.

What’s important to know about curating decorative arts?

I studied at the Winterthur Program in Delaware, where I learned how to handle and study objects and discovered what questions to ask about them: What do the materials, construction and decoration of an object reveal about the people and culture that made it? What was the original use and how might that have changed over time? Given these layers of meaning, what stories can the object describe to a museum visitor? I applied these questions as Curator for Costumes and Textiles at the San Diego Historical Society. I look forward to applying these ideas to the Decorative Arts collection here at the Newark Museum.

What makes your work at the Museum important?

I mentioned the Registrar’s department in the first question. We work together as a team for all the behind-the-scenes work to bring objects into the collection, store them safely, and exhibit them here or through loans to other museums. I see all of my work as part of a machine with lots of interconnected parts. I enjoy discussing projects with all of the curators so that we can intertwine objects and ideas across all of the collections. I also work with the Exhibition, Education, Publications & Marketing, and Members’ departments to insure that all of the exhibitions, docent tours, school tours and public programs integrate my curatorial research with the interpretive approaches used by the educators, docents and Junior Explorers.

What projects are you working on currently and long-term?

Currently I am developing two exhibitions based upon a collection of French couture jewelry and a collection of 1920s and 1930s art glass. Both exhibition will have their own theme, but I want to introduce the visitor to how the objects were made, what the materials and designs reveal about their makers and time, and provide a connection to the Newark Museum’s connections. The visitor might also see their own glass and jewelry in a new way.

Where is your favorite place to have lunch in Newark?

I have a special fondness for diners, so I’ll name Central Restaurant and The Deluxe Diner as my favorites

Do you have a favorite collection object?

This is a tough question as there are so many incredible choices. Even though it is not in the Decorative Arts collection, Gold Cakra Lamp by the Korean artist, Choe U-Ram (2014.1) is high on my list. I love the designs created by the moving parts, how it is influenced by the viewer’s motions, and the feeling of calm that the visual patterns and movement creates. With all of the interruptions and multitasking of today, I love to stand and look at this artwork, soaking up its beauty and peacefulness.

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June 11, 2018 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment


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