Barbara Morgan (American, 1900–1992), Pearl Primus, Speak to Me of Rivers (1), 1944, Silver gelatin print (printed 1970s – 1980s), University Museum of Contemporary Art, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Courtesy of the Barbara Morgan Archive. (UM 2009.12.1)

Behind the Scenes, Part 1

I was fortunate enough to play a small role in helping Katy Schimert install her wall drawing, Oedipal Blind Spot, at WCMA. It was a fascinating experience to get to know a working artist and not only learn about, but literally take part in, her creative process. When Katie Price, co-curator of Landscapes of the Mind, asked me if I would be interested in helping Katy install her piece, I was incredibly flattered but also unsure if I had heard correctly. Why would a famous artist or well-established museum trust a lowly undergraduate art history and studio major to help with such an important task? I naturally came to the conclusion that I would be sharpening pencils or pouring out jars of paint. Boy was I wrong. Who knew that installing a “wall drawing” could involve using a hammer and threading needles?

After a nice introductory dinner at the 6 House Pub with Katie and Katy the previous night, I arrived at the Museum on Tuesday morning, unsure of what was going to be asked of me. I found the project “task force”—Katie, Hideyo, Betty, and Richard—grouped around Katy and her large brain piece, A Woman’s Brain, that was to be situated on the floor of the gallery near Oedipal Blind Spot. I did not have long to admire the work before I was off to Aubuchon Hardware in search of a replacement light bulb that was to be attached near the edge of the brain. Eager to complete my first official duty as Installer with efficient professionalism, I came back as fast as I could with two bulbs, each a slightly different shape than Katy’s original. While there were not many bulbs to choose from at Aubuchon, I picked the two I thought would best fit into the piece. My fear that Katy would disapprove of my choices vanished as I watched her miraculously take the larger bulb and screw it directly into the brain. It’s still there, too!

To be continued. . .

- Ethan Buchsbaum, Williams ’10

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