Student News, Field Work Term

Curating a Future

As the Robert Frost Stone House Museum opens for its second season under Bennington College’s stewardship, visitors to the property will be invited to reimagine Frost and his surrounding environment with (Im)Possibilities of Landscape, a senior curatorial work presented by Sophia Gasparro ’19.

Image of a postcard on bulletin board

The show will run from May 9 - June 1, with an opening reception held at the museum on May 9 from 6:00-8:00 pm.

The project is motivated by Gasparro’s curatorial interest in making art publicly accessible. (Im)Possibilities of Landscape will utilize Bennington College’s unique collection of artwork, including selected pieces like Wallace Putnam’s 1959 Horse and Cart on Beach and Charles Burchfield’s 1915 studies for paintings, and explores representations of landscape, domesticity, and sense of place.

“I feel that it’s important to share our collection both with students and the broader community,” said Gasparro of the show’s Frost House location. “The shared history between Frost and Bennington College, which dates back to the 1930s and spans into the future, allows for a reexamination of the possibilities of both the work and the space.”

Gasparro, who studies art history and curation at Bennington, discovered these interests during the course of her time in college.  

“I came into school thinking I’d study ceramics or international relations; I didn’t have any specific idea. I wanted to try out a lot of different things,” said Gasparro. However, after taking Toward a Rigorous Art History during her first year, she felt a path shaping. “The next fall, I met Vanessa Lyon, who is my advisor now, and she’s become a big help in guiding my steps.”

Gasparro’s Field Work Term experiences have included working at the interior design firm Digs By Katie, curating displays for the historic Merchant’s House Museum, and, most recently, interning in museum services at Christie’s New York headquarters.

“I’m interested in museum work, and my Field Work Term at Christie’s offered a different perspective on the art world,” said Gasparro. “I had been curious about how auction houses partner with museums to find works in their collection they want to sell, as well as how auction houses market themselves to museums.”

While at Christie’s, Gasparro researched and compiled data on museums and collections the organization wanted to contact.  

“I was surprised how wide-reaching and inclusive their research was,” said Gasparro, whose data gathering including compiling a list of every curator who worked for a public library in Texas.

One of Gasparro’s favorite parts of the experience was attending auctions and previews, which included seeing artworks at gallery events.

“The auction previews are free to attend; anyone can go to look around, ask questions, and find information on artwork. You can make an educational event out of it, even if you’re not there to spend money,” said Gasparro.

During Gasparro’s Field Work Term, Christie’s hosted its Americana Week auctions, which included an auction dedicated to Outsider and Vernacular Art.

“I loved seeing how those pieces were auctioned and displayed,” said Gasparro. “It included a lot of art I’d never seen by artists I hadn’t known about. It was both artistically educational and a good opportunity to see how Christie’s portrayed that art to their audience.”

After graduation, Gasparro intends to find a place for herself within the art world.  

“I could see myself in a museum or gallery setting,” said Gasparro. “I now have knowledge of the art market and how buying and selling works, but I’m also interested in how to make collections accessible and public.”

The combination of Gasparro’s art history studies and Field Work Terms have equipped her with a wide-ranging skill set.

“The work I’ve done is all connected through ideas of display, marketing, and preservation,” said Gasparro. “They were all unique experiences, but they all led me down a path.”

 

By Natalie Redmond, Associate Writer