The class of 2022 has three seniors graduating from the Curatorial Studies program, about to embark on the next stages of their careers. Read below to hear from Lily Feinstein, Shannon Ferrari and Laila Islam about how they came to the Curatorial Studies program at Moore, their plans for after graduation and a closer look at each of their thesis projects, on view as part of the 2022 Senior Show in the Galleries at Moore until May 14.
Lily Feinstein (she/her) ’22 Curatorial Studies
I've always loved history, and when it came time to apply to college I was unsure what I wanted to do with that. Around the same time that I was thinking about college, I was a part of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Youth Council. Youth Council is a program that brings together teenagers from the Philadelphia area and gives them a chance to curate an exhibition at PAFA using the museum's collection. This experience, combined with my love of history, really made me see how much I loved curating and that I wanted to do it for a living! So when I saw that Moore had a Curatorial Studies program, I knew I had found the right place.
My thesis explores the many cultural representations of Anne Boleyn and how, due to a deliberate erasure of information following her execution in 1536, all representations of Anne say more about the time in which they were written and less about her. Anne’s story is constantly being rewritten by each generation to discuss issues relevant to their own time. Due to this phenomenon, she has become a historical chameleon. We never seem to want to get rid of her! In addition to reading about queens and royal women since I was ten, I was also really inspired by Susan Bordo’s book, The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen. I read it the summer of my junior year and thought the topic would make a really interesting exhibition! So, considering my love of queens and Anne Boleyn, choosing to center my senior thesis around this topic was a no-brainer!
My long-term goal is to get a Ph.D. in Early Modern Studies and move to England! Thanks to one of Moore's travel fellowships, I was able to go to England for two weeks in March of 2022 to do research for my thesis, and I loved it there.
After I graduate from Moore, I will take with me all of the wonderful experiences I have had while here! I have made so many lifelong friends and connections while also experiencing some of what the world has to offer.
Shannon Ferrari (they/she) ’22 Curatorial Studies with a Fine Arts & Textiles minor
I found out about Moore’s Curatorial Studies program through Alum Virginia Pollock. I wanted to pursue museum curating while at the same time pursuing my artistic practice. Moore’s Curatorial Studies program was the perfect fit!
My thesis project 427: Connecting with the Inner Child and Beyond explores my personal process of connecting with my inner child by using art and writing as a tool for personal growth. As my impending graduation approaches, I wanted to feel confident diving into the unknown. To do this, I developed my project 427 to help better understand my fear of change. I found the experiences I had as a child influenced this feeling. By using art and writing to connect with my inner child, I allowed myself and my inner child to work together to move past those experiences, instead focusing on imagining a healed future version of myself. Not only was I able to share my process through seven hand-painted postcards, but I created a space for people to do the same with their own postcards. All postcards written by participants to their future selves will be collected and uploaded to my website as a reminder that we all have control to invite in our desired future selves.
My plans to travel were halted because of the pandemic, so I’m taking this opportunity post-undergrad to travel. I hope to start my travels in Sweden. I know I will definitely be visiting lots of galleries and museums along the way!
When I leave Moore, I will be sure to take all the amazing memories I had. I met so many inspiring people at Moore, so I’m grateful to be able to remember all the fun we had together. I hope to stay in touch with everyone!
Laila Islam ’22 Curatorial Studies with a Fine Arts and Photography minor
When I was in high school, I hosted one-night exhibitions with my friends where we would showcase our art to our friends and family. Within months of hosting shows, I founded The Future Is Us Collective. The process of working with artists and creating spaces for people to have fun and view art felt so fulfilling for me. While hosting these shows I felt so aligned with my purpose. I realized I had to pursue an art career that involved talking to people and directly engaging with audiences and creating spaces for people. While deciding programs, I wasn't certain that I wanted to pursue a career where I’m an artist selling my work. I have my own personal art practice, but I find that I enjoy artmaking the most when I’m not trying to create something marketable or something that fits a criteria of being worth exhibiting. I also love writing and throughout my time at Moore I’ve realized that I honestly love writing about art and art movements the most. Curatorial Studies undergraduate programs are very rare, and Moore offering the program was almost kismet. It was a program in the city I already lived in and a program in a city with so many museums and art institutions that I found myself inspired by at the time.
My thesis exhibition Somatic Utopic Imagining explores how educational creative practices can be used in art studios as methods of collective healing. I’m interested in creating spaces where Black and Brown people can share knowledge, process trauma and build interpersonal connections through group artmaking. To explore this interest, I hosted a residency under my collective: The Future Is Us (TFIU) Group Residency. I used this pilot project as a case study to evaluate how effective Utopic Imagining and somatic pedagogy could be for Black and Brown creatives. Utopic Imagining is an Afrofuturist method of speculating the past, present and future, imagining a utopia, and designing technologies that support one’s envisioned utopia. Somatic Pedagogy involves a series of therapeutic group body-centered exercises and open discussions that are intended to encourage intimacy, healing and camaraderie amongst participants. My thesis research primarily consisted of me finding language for these practices, especially Utopic Imagining, a pedagogy I co-developed with my friend and one of the facilitators of TFIU Residency Reva Rutherford. I was really inspired by the philosophies of Afrofuturists like those of the late Sun Ra and organizations like the Design Justice Network when developing both Utopic Imagining and the programming for the residency project. My exhibition presentation involves a lot of components: there's a “sanctuary space” installation that people can enter and engage in guided meditations and exercises that were developed throughout the residency, there’s a curated zine that features writings and artwork created by residency participants, and lastly there are silkscreen prints of iconography that I feel encapsulate Somatic Utopic Imagining (these prints include a Ghetto Engineered Air conditioner, a portrait of Sun Ra, and a portrait of Dorothy from the film production of The Wiz). Now that I have groundwork and a clear vision for the residency, I would love to host a second iteration of this project. In general I’m excited to see where Somatic Utopic Imagining goes in the next stages of my career.
I’m grateful to work for public arts coalition Amber Art and Design as their studio manager and project manager. As studio manager, I direct all public platforms for the organization and oversee the several projects we lead throughout the year. A lot of my job consists of writing project and grant proposals for potential murals and community engagement projects on behalf of our team. I’m excited to take on an additional position of project manager for Amber, where I will contribute to an upcoming community engagement project for the former Police Administration Building located at 7th and Race Streets, also known as “the Roundhouse.” I’ve been working for Amber for a little over six months, and I’ve had the best time working for amazing creatives that have over a decade of experience serving communities through the arts and designing and fabricating murals. I'm learning so much about leading effective community centered art projects through this work which I know will be foundational to the rest of my career as a curator and social artist.
I also have a few exciting projects coming up with The Future Is Us Collective in collaboration with other amazing youth based art organizations in the city. I can’t share too many details, but follow us on Instagram @thefutureisuscollective for updates! :)
One thing I will take from my time at Moore is the understanding that curation is so expansive of a field it's almost overwhelming. Curation can be preserving and presenting historical artworks in museums, but it can also be an artist practice; curation can be a practice of cultivating experiences and spaces for people, it can even be creative writing. I’m so excited to be in a field where I can apply so many of my interests in whatever way I desire. Moore really taught me that art in general can be anything and that there are no boundaries to artmaking or within the curatorial practice. Even though the program is sunsetting, I’m deeply grateful for these experiences I had throughout my time at Moore and I’m proud to be considered an alumni of curators from this university. I’m excited to take this foundation of knowledge and apply it to my practices and my career.