Her name may not appear on the press release, but Allison Peller has been critical to the organization of the New.New York exhibit (curated by Artist / Photographer / Curator / Educator, John Silvis) at the Essel Museum in Vienna. With the exhibit (open NOW, since November 23rd) quickly approaching, I wanted to get a few words from Allison on the experience of assisting with this exhibition, and her path as a worker in the cultural field.
Allison Peller was born in Washington on military base Fort Lewis and has lived in Missouri, and Maryland. Ms. Peller, her siblings, the Dr., and Mrs. Peller eventually returned to Washington State, for a time. The family now resides in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The first time Ms. Peller came to New York was as a 5-year-old child with her family. During this visit they attended an exhibition of Monet’s bridges at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The work left an impression on her young mind, noting, even then, the aesthetic difference that it made, “As Monet started going blind.” They visited the Museum again when she was in Middle school, on another family trip, and she knew then that she truly loved New York, and the art that was accessible there.
A story her father likes to tell, which follows their first trip to New York, is of an incident where he pointed to an art print, proclaiming, “Look! It’s a Monet!” Allison calmly corrected him, “No Dad, that’s not a Monet, it’s a Manet.” This is the moment it became clear to her family that her interest went beyond the children’s books, but stretched into a real curiosity of the field. Her confidence in this direction came later as she matured and explored her options for further study.
She attended Bethel University’s undergraduate program for Art History, and Studio Art in Minnesota. She choose the program specifically for the advantage of spending a semester in New York at their Center for Art and Media Studies (NYCAMS). She thought that the semester would quench her love of the big city, seeing her self as more of a “country mouse,” but instead she fell in deeper love, and returned to New York upon graduation for a post-baccalaureate fellowship for curatorial studies under the mentorship of NYCAMS director, John Silvis.
While still in her undergraduate studies, she was trying to be “practical,” by exploring interior design and other applied versions of her creative bent. But it was futile. When she finally faced that fine art history was indeed her passion, and she should be pursuing curatorial work “for real” – she obtained an internship under the museum director at her university, and later went on to an internship at the Pace Gallery in New York, where she also was employed until recently when she began working as a freelance curatorial assistant.
Her Post-Baccalaureate fellowship began in the Fall of 2009 under the mentorship of John Silvis. She started as an assistant for the exhibit “Incarnational Aesthetics,” and culminated with her own curatorial project “Regeneration: Root Beer Float Social,” in the Spring of 2010. During this period she became the point-person for events such as a fashion show, curated exhibits, and student shows; also facilitating the transport of work and the website updates for each project. Although she had co-curated an exhibit during her internship with the Bethel University Museum, drawing from their collection, “Regeneration” was the first time she had the freedom to make curatorial decisions on her own, building an exhibit that she could truly take ownership of. In her words, “I felt like it looked really good once it was up. It felt really good.”
In the instance of the current Essel Museum exhibition, New.New York, Ms. Peller again came on board as an assistant to John Silvis, but on a scale that she had not yet worked. There are 19 artists in the exhibition (two of which work together as a collaborative team,) all working in New York, with several installation works being installed on-site, in Vienna, opening this Thanksgiving week. Silvis brought Ms. Peller on-board early-on to aid in preparation such as studio visits, (taking measurements, photo documentation,) managing images and videos for their Tumblr page, and keeping details organized for the shipment of work. Peller also assisted Silvis in the portrait sessions for each artist, which would be included in the catalog for the exhibition.
The Essel Museum is hosting the exhibition as a part of their emerging artist series as an example of the work currently coming out of New York City. What ties this group together is not necessarily their “young” or “emerging” status, rather their aesthetic ties to a New York heritage while contemporarily “re-imagining how they use their medium. For example, the Ladd Brothers use beading, textiles, and ribbon,” which, “came out of a [garment/fashion-related practice,] and used those influences to make these really beautiful stacking sculptures.” Another example she gives is of Robin Kang’s brick installations that are essentially built of photographs of bricks printed on acetate and used to construct new structures. Overall the exhibit focuses on this act of “changing the formal paremeters” or giving a new twist to familiar material; Keeping the definition of the New York art scene open to the entire city, not just one borough, furthermore, not one industrial zone.
Allison Peller had prior experience working with a few of the artists who were on the exhibition roster, and plans to build on those relationships. (This includes Reid Streilow, who was also among the artists in her Regeneration exhibit.) She also hopes to continue to put herself in the way of Silvis, as he has played a critical role as a mentor to Peller. She has only begun investigating graduate programs for Art history, but will continue to be actively involved with emerging artists, making studio visits, and building her own curatorial values and style as she emerges onto the New York art scene herself.
New. New York, Curated by John Silvis
Essl Museum, Vienna, Austria
November 23, 2012 – March 31, 2013
Opening Reception: November 22, 2012 from 6-8pm
Gartenbaukino film screenings November 23, 2012 9pm
[photo courtesy of the Essel Facebook page]
Jude Broughan, Vince Contarino, Brent Everett Dickinson, Rob Fischer, Ryan Ford, Egan Frantz, Rico Gatson, Robin Kang, Steven and William Ladd, Sarah Lee, Christopher McDonald, Ann Pibal, Lisa Sigal, Shelly Silver, Reid Strelow, Siebren Versteeg, Letha Wilson, Tamara Zahaykevich.
“New York, often described as the world capital of contemporary art, is the focus of exhibition activity in the Essl Museum this autumn. NEW. NEW YORK offers an insight into the work of 19 young artists from New York. A vibrant young art scene has developed in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in recent years, with numerous ateliers, culture initiatives and alternative art spaces. It is here that the American artist and curator John Silvis made his selection of artists for the coming exhibition in the Essl Museum.
All 19 artists are at different stages of their careers; what they share is that they use familiar materials and media in their work in an often surprising form, and in doing so produce “something new” in order to distinguish themselves from the traditional art canon and to develop their own forms of artistic expression. They all work with familiar media such as painting, photography, sculpture etc., but they change the formal parameters, combining, for example, materials such as concrete and photography in a refreshing way. The fascination with presence and the object seems to be an apt investigation in our media saturated landscape accentuating the absence of the human hand. The work in New.New York does this by deconstructing existing art genres, slowing down time, re-purposing material and resurrecting old technologies, without attempting to issue its own manifesto, instead the viewer is presented with diverse artistic visions and forges anticipation for the unexpected by infusing art objects with the potential of transformation.”