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News Bites: Elizabeth Hertl Named KCAD’s Inaugural ArtPrize Curatorial Fellow

Posted June 11, 2015 in GalleryArtPrize

A new ArtPrize initiative, the Fellowship for Emerging Curators, is designed to give upstart local curators an immersive professional experience during the upcoming seventh iteration of the radically open art competition.

As one of four ArtPrize 2015 venues participating in the new initiative, The Fed Galleries at KCAD has selected local artist and curator Elizabeth Hertl as its inaugural Curatorial Fellow. The other three participating venues are the Grand Rapids Art Museum, SiTE:LAB, and Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, which chose KCAD alum Ethan Ross (’14, MFA Photography) as it’s Curatorial Fellow.

Hertl graduated from Aquinas College in 2010 with a BFA in Painting, and has been involved with ArtPrize at the curatorial level for the past five years. She served as an assistant curator to the Diocese of Grand Rapids for the Cathedral Square venue in 2010 and 2011 before moving to a co-curator role in 2012. She then assumed full time curatorial duties for the venue in 2013 and 2014. Most recently, she curated “Weft, Chain and Stitch,” an exhibition showcasing local fiber artists during Art.Downtown. 2015.

Liz Hertl and Michele BosakElizabeth Hertl (left) and KCAD's Curator of Exhibitions, Michele Bosak (right)

“I really enjoy bringing artists together who maybe at first you wouldn’t think go together,” said Hertl. “I love the challenge of finding those similar themes because it allows me to bring in my own perspective.”

The immersion experience for ArtPrize Curatorial Fellows is twofold: Hertl will work closely with Michele Bosak, Curator of Exhibitions at KCAD, to help coordinate and execute The Fed Galleries’ ArtPrize 2015 exhibition while simultaneously curating her own ArtPrize exhibition at 250 Monroe with Bosak’s guidance and support.

“I’ve had Liz on my radar for some time, so it’s exciting to now have the opportunity to work with her,” said Bosak. “I was looking for someone who would be totally committed to learning new things and getting the most out of this experience, and Liz absolutely fits the bill.”

Hertl’s exhibition at 250 Monroe will focus entirely on fiber arts, continuing a long fascination with the medium she says has grown as she’s been exposed to more and more contemporary fiber artists in recent years. She currently has verbal commitments from 17 artists, including two international artists, and hopes to have a final roster of around 20.

“I've only seen a few all-fiber shows at ArtPrize before, so I’m excited to see how this exhibition is received. Everything about fiber is so utilitarian; I love exploring that intersection of craft, fine art, and usability.”

250 Monroe is currently being prepped for renovation, making the space a veritable blank canvas in which Hertl will be free to experiment. After ArtPrize, the renovation will continue and the space will look drastically different.

250 MonroeHertl and Bosak getting the lay of the land inside 250 Monroe

“There’s a lot of room and it’s very raw, so they’re giving me a bit of liberty, which I love,” she said. “I like to think of the exhibition as this wonderful period of time that’s never going to exist again.”

Currently in the midst of rennovation, 250 Monroe provides Hertl plenty of curatorial freedom

As she finalizes her exhibition, Hertl will accesses not only to valuable resources that a larger institution like KCAD can provide, but also to the sage advice of an experienced curator in Bosak. She can help Hertl navigate both the conceptual side of the job as well as the more administrative aspects such as soliciting sponsorships, securing lighting, and dealing with artists’ questions and concerns.

“What I love about this Fellowship initiative is that ArtPrize is really shining a light on the curatorial process and what it adds to the entire experience of the event,” said Bosak. “It’s really emphasizing the shows as a whole, rather than identifying individual pieces that can win, and acknowledging that venues themselves can have a lot of power.”

Click here for more information on the ArtPrize Fellowship for Emerging Curators.