Let’s start with your background and how you came to work as Exhibition Production Coordinator at MOCA?
I started working in theater design and production in high school, after my soccer career was cut short due to a soccer ball flying straight up into the air and landing directly in my eye, causing bleeding behind my cornea. At the time, I was on two teams and a starter, but after the accident, I found myself on the bench, and the sidelines has never been a comfortable place for me. I had been playing for ten years, so it was difficult to leave sports behind. But, none the less, I did, and I ended up majoring in theater production and direction at UC Santa Cruz, the place I call my boot camp. The program has a hands-on approach, an environment where I flourished.
After graduating, I moved to NYC and found work right away. After two successful years in the big city, I realized I wanted to work in film, so I reluctantly moved back to Los Angeles and worked as an Art Director. Even though I had found my way into the Art Directors Guild in my twenties, there was still something that was missing, so I started investigating grad schools. Art Center College of Design in Pasadena was close by, with one of the top programs in industrial design, so I applied and I was accepted.
After two years of intensely investigating my creative process, I earned a MS in Industrial Design and had no idea what I wanted to do with it except make things, so I did. During the day, I worked as a Project Designer and Manager for a design/build architecture and construction company, and at night, I continued to make things based on my research from my thesis. I ended up opening a showroom to display my industrial designs and showed works, which I called “industrial art.” For three years I managed a space in Silver Lake. I launched my products and also exhibited works that related. At the time, there were over a dozen galleries. One by one, they started to close, and I started planning my next move. When an opening for an Exhibition Designer at MOCA popped up, I knew this was the next move.
What does your job entail?
In my job I work with the curators to design the wall layouts for the exhibitions in the three buildings of MOCA. I do the plans, get the permits, and supervise the construction. Also, I am responsible for all the text within the exhibition; the labels, titles, text panels, diagrams and signage. MOCA has a specific style, and it is my responsibility to ensure that there is cohesion between the exhibitions. As a contemporary art museum, we often have large installations in our exhibitions, and I do research so that the work is installed correctly with the artist’s intentions.
I don’t actually install the work; there are installation technicians that specialize in this. My job is to prepare everything before the work arrives. So that when the work arrives, it can be installed smoothly and correctly, and the the space is prepared and designed so that the works can be installed correctly and smoothly. Most recently, I worked on “Art in the Streets,” which was very challenging, primarily due to the sheer volume of artists and works and the short prep time we had.
Your favorite artists?
Living: Chris Burden, Antoni Tàpies, Rachel Whiteread
Dead: Louise Bourgeois, Eduardo Chillida, Eva Hesse
Up-and-coming artists who most excite you now, and why?
Jamison Carter, Sandeep Mukherjee, Carolyn Castaño. These are artists who I have enjoyed watching evolve over the years, and I am never bored, only excited and intrigued at every opening I attend and work I see.
How do you go about choosing work, what’s your thinking process, where do you begin as a curator? In this particular case, and in general?
Authenticity is important to me. Is it something I’ve seen before? If it is, is it being done in a new or clever way? Does it draw me in? Does it make me curious? Do I want to know more? Does it make me feel? How does it make me feel? Sometimes it can be completely instinctual; other times, formal; while, other times, the instincts are based on formalities.
So talk about the work here, the ten images you chose for this gallery?
When I started looking through the images, I had no preconceived idea for what I would choose. I let the images speak to me and they chose themselves. I did screen grabs of the images and started organizing them on one page. When I had a handful together, their similarities became noticeable, and specific qualities that linked the images together created the curation.
Credit: Caulton Morris
What are some of the mistakes you see artists make in terms of getting their work out, into the world?
Some people’s mistakes are other people’s charm and good fortune. What works for you won’t necessarily work for others. Be yourself and follow your own instincts. However, professionalism, respect and courtesy go a long way. It is a very small world: everyone knows each other. Treat others they way you want to be treated, then you will always represent the person that you are. This can be very difficult in stressful situations.
Advice for young artists of any age? How to best represent themselves?
Respect and courtesy.
Editor’s note: This is the first photography series chosen by a guest curator, and these ten images will soon appear in a permanent gallery, Gallery 6, on the Saccades Project website, alongside guest-curated galleries that will now follow every month for the rest of 2011. Special thanks to each artist, and, of course, our friend Stacie B. London for sharing her incredible energy, enthusiasm, eye and expertise with us.