Tarble Talk: How Tarble chooses its next exhibits

Mace Mackiewicz, Staff Reporter

Tarble Arts Center shows a lot of different exhibits off and hosts several artist lectures throughout the year. Hours of work go into choosing the artists and laying out the exhibits at Tarble.

Rehema Barber, the director and head curator of Tarble, said that there are quite a few ways Tarble goes about getting art exhibits.

One way they get artists is through collaborating with the art department. They go through the visiting art series that the art program brings to campus and brings some of those artists and their work to Tarble.

Barber said this had been the main way Tarble decided who to curate each year, but that they’re going to start planning ahead three years in advance instead of waiting to plan things out year to year.

“I would say last year’s program relied heavily on the submissions of the art department and their cultivation of those artists,” Barber said. “However this year we haven’t really gotten too many submissions.”

She and other curators from Tarble will go around to art shows in the U.S and see what’s being presented in order to get ideas of who and what to bring to Tarble.

Barber said that even though they are planning so far in advance, they’re still leaving gaps in the schedule for flexibility and letting the art department still have a chance to get shows in at Tarble as well.

They’re also working with other institutions through partnerships to bring more artists to the art department, Barber said. For example, Tarble is working with the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts to bring an artist to Tarble as well as with the Halsey Institute and other art groups.

When they decide who they want to come to Tarble, the curators go out and talk to the artists they want. Sometimes they co-curate what goes into the exhibit by theme or they get an artist’s current exhibition project.

Barber said the way they actually get the art to Tarble is through an art transportation system. They safely bring the works of the artists to Tarble in a controlled atmosphere so that none of the works get damaged on their way.

When the art arrives at Tarble, the staff lets the works acclimate to Tarble’s atmosphere before opening anything in order to try to keep them as safe as possible.

The art exhibits can be laid out in several different ways. Barber said that usually they will pre-plan what they want the exhibits to look like, but once they get things in the room they try their best to get everything organized in a way that allows the art work to flow from piece to piece.

“We only have a limited number of people so everyone does double duty,” Barber said. “We usually sit down and say ‘ok this is how we think things should look and this is where things should go.’”

Some artists are actually at Tarble to install their own exhibits and are able to put things exactly where they want them to be, Barber said.

Some of their pieces have to be handled carefully in a specific way in order to maximize their presentation. According to Barber, lighting can be very different from exhibit to exhibit.

All of Tarble’s art exhibits are insured as well as are under some form of security. Barber said that Tarble is also working on getting better surveillance.

Mace Mackiewicz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]