Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Blog Duet: Curating the Examined Life

Crazy Ali Poet of Turkey Photo by Marcy Burns

An unexamined life is not worth living. ---Socrates

An examined life is worth curating. ---Janet Riehl

Like a museum curator chooses what to put in the exhibit and where to put it, we all choose where and when and with whom to place the events that make up our lives.--- Christa Avampato in New York

What is a curator? Wikipedia tells us the word "curator" comes from Latin cura or care, and means manager or overseer in this original form.

In a cultural heritage institution such as an "archive, gallery, library, museum or garden" a curator "is a content specialist responsible for an institution's collections ...and catalogs. [concerned with] tangible objects whether it be inter alia [Latin for "among other things"] artwork, collectibles, historic items or scientific collections."

The curator decides "what objects to collect, oversees their care and documentation, conducts research based on the collection, and shares that research with the community." In the United Kingdom, the term curator applies to those who "monitor the quality of contract archaeological work...managing the cultural resource."

In contemporary art a curator organizes exhibitions. "In this context, to curate means to pick objects and arrange them...finding a theme to link a set of works, or finding works to fit a desired theme. In addition to selecting works, the curator often is responsible for writing labels, catalog essays, and other supporting content for the exhibition."

Christa Avampato in New York:Curating a Creative Life writes about how she came to the subtitle for her blog. I was intrigued by the phrase "Curaging a Creative Life" and asked her to say more. Christa says she was inspired by window dressers, set designs, and museum exhibits when she first moved to New York City over a decade ago. She wanted "to be someone who designs and chooses what goes where and how it all hangs together. I wanted to be a curator."

Christa Avampato says, "I am also intensely interested in narrative and story lines. I am a writer. And I curate that writing."

What is the hardest job of a curator? Choosing among the treasures.

Christa Avampato says, "We are choosing, and therefore curating, the different pieces of our lives. Our lives are creations always evolving, morphing into something different than they were yesterday... With every new interaction, there is a new learning and we incorporate that, somehow, into how we approach the next interaction, and so on.

"Like a museum curator chooses what to put in the exhibit and where to put it, we all choose where and when and with whom to place the events that make up our lives."

I really like this phrase and concept. You see, I'm a documentarian, a daughter of a documentarian...and my recent passion is journal harvesting. Hey, out to St. Louis and help me curate my life, would ya?

And while you're here, we'll do workshops on my favorite book by Carol Lloyd, Creating a Life Worth Living, possibly the most useful book on transition and life design and choosing for creative people ever written.

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2 Responses »

  1. Hi Janet! Thanks so much for your kinds words and for linking back to my blog. I really appreciate you asking the question about curating a creative life. I'm so glad you prompted me to write that piece!

    All my best,

  2. Thank you Christa and Janet. I'm always looking for gentle words to describe myself.

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