Label Writing…It Ain’t No Joke = Part 2

My last post was an introduction to my latest project, my first curatorial one, writing museum labels for a satellite gallery on campus. Feel free to jump back to my previous post to catch up, but I’m sure you’ll get the idea from this one.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and more than one way to approach writing a museum label depending on the situation. My Director was very pleased with them, so I’m feeling great about this although  I’m a total newb and had to figure out a method that worked best for me. To be honest, I approached this similarly to how I write lesson plans, but maybe I’ll explain that later. My museum’s Director and I had already selected an artist, Pete Turner, (Step 1) and I had began researching the artist and learning about his style (Step 2).

Here’s the introductory label that I wrote:

“Pete Turner is a contemporary photographer best known for pioneering color photography in the early 1960’s, an age when color had yet to be adopted as a primary fine art medium. His striking images have been featured in advertisements, magazines, billboards, and jazz album covers throughout his career. An influential artist during the jazz movements of the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s, Turner has been described as, “ as much a part of the music’s evolution and the jazz culture as the musicians themselves.” His iconic images have graced the covers of hundreds of albums by legendary jazz musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, and John Coltrane. As a student of the Rochester Institute of Technology, Turner was educated by an open-minded group of teachers who encouraged him to explore and develop his unique style. Turner continued to cultivate his photography education in the least likely of places. Upon Graduation, Tuner was drafted into the military and stationed in Long Island City where he worked in an Army Pictorial Center on base, a position which allowed the young artist to build his portfolio when opportunities to work with color were both rare and expensive. These digital prints from the portfolio “Selected Color Images” illustrate Turner’s mastery of elegantly pushing the boundaries of composition and color.”

Next, I had to decide what exactly I wanted to say about the images. I spent a LOT of time staring at digital scans of the photos online, and also the printed portfolio.

Step Three: Observe

I observed the 7 images and matched each one up with a “partner” based on the aesthetics of each photo. When I’m lesson planning and trying to teach a specific concept or technique I need to have multiple examples to drill it into my student’s brains. In matching up my photos, I used that same  approach and paired photos that I thought made sense together and illustrated an important point together. Having an odd number left one  photo  to stand alone, so that image needed to say something on its own that it couldn’t in a pair. Make sense? It helped that many of these photos were not conceptually linked (aka they weren’t taken with the same idea in mind, as far as I know) so I was relying a lot on pure aesthetics, or how the photos look, despite whatever concept the artist may have had in mind.

Step Four: Write

I started with notes. I wrote thing that stood out to me in the images, shapes, ideas, and what I thought was most important. I thought about how what I saw in each image reflected on the artist’s style, and eventually formed those notes into brief paragraph.

Here’s one of my pairs that I love because I don’t think most of the connections are completely obvious at first.  I envision them hanging side by side, with the top image on the left. Check out the pair and my label written below:

“Ibiza Woman and Road Song showcase Turner’s masterful eye for subtle contrast, intriguing perspective, and line. In each image, a long line leads us deep into the scene. Small splashes of light and striking blocks of dark color are paired with soft yet saturated blues. Together, these elements create an illusion of depth, providing us with well-crafted glimpses into mysterious scenes.”

I won’t put up all of them, for the sake of trying to make these posts a little shorter, but I’d be glad to show anyone who may be intrigued!

Another task that I had no idea how to do at first, but have now completed and can add to my resume!= CHECK!

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