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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Fine Arts

Curator fills in gaps in artist’s exhibition

Having published books and articles internationally, art critic and scholar Rachel Hooper held her first lecture and Q&A session about her curatorial exploration in a compilation, called “Jsut That Way” during a curator’s talk on an ongoing exhibition Thursday evening at the Blaffer Art Museum.

She discussed her work with Texas-native, Andy Coolquitt, who has his first solo exhibition, “Attainable Excellence,” on display in the museum.

“After working with him for all these years, I can’t quite put into words exactly what I see in his art-making,” Hooper said. “And that is exactly what excites me.”

She presented a chronicle of his artwork and photographs while sharing insight of his studio practice and also shed light on Coolquitt’s hiatus when he quit graduate studies and studio practice to work at the Texas School for the Blind in Austin.

His years of work with the blind inspired him to return to exploring his sculptural concerns. The idea of prosthetic art that had a physical connection with space and interactors consumed him and inspired him to return to making art.

“Watching his creative process over the years has taught me some important lessons for my curatorial practice,” Hooper said. “First, trust your instincts. Give into creative exploration even if it takes you to unexpected places, and make art a part of your life in as many ways as possible.”

Blaffer’s educational curator Katherine Veneman described Hooper’s discussion as adding another dimension.

“Her talk shed a lot of light on the exhibit,” Veneman said. “We’re so fortunate that for all the exhibits here, the curators are here. It helps all the visitors and viewers.”

Art history assistant professor Sandra Zalman enjoyed Hooper’s lecture.

“It was the right balance,” Zalman said. “It was engaging and casual, but it wasn’t unprofessional.”

The audience congratulated Hooper on her scholarship that helped launch the artist’s career.

“Believe me. This is Andy,” Hooper said. “I’m just along for the ride.”

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