and use biological and chemical weapons on them. I especially like that kind of poetic reinterpretation of another time juxtaposed against [Andrei] Molodkin’s CRUDE, which looks at capitalism and oil now—and how much our two cultures are alike.
How do you work with embassies or governments to find artists like these? It differs. For example, I’m going to Russia in May partly because I showed the Russians. The Likhachev Foundation is sending me. So I’ll look at artists; visit galleries, museums, and curators; and put together an idea of what I’d like to do. Last year I went to India, and I’m working with people there. The idea is to either find a curator you want to work with or do it yourself. You don’t want a show that is canned and being circulated. Generally, though, the embassies make the introductions—then you work out the kind of show you want to do, the budget, and negotiate what the government will do. We don’t raise anywhere near enough money for the kind of programming we do. Governments pick up the tab for transportation, printing, all that.
Susan Yanero, Helicopter, 2012
“The challenge was to figure out a way the museum could be relevant to the university and to Washington.” Is foreign governments’ financial support something you can count on? Yes, now we’re at the point where they want to work with us. And there are other donors: the Molodkin show, for example—a Russian oligarch paid for everything.
We are not academic, focused on faculty and students the way many university museums are. But we do collaborate. Right now, they tell me who will be the visiting artists next year. I’ll research them and say, let’s do a show on this one. Or we’ll say, we’re thinking of bringing this person—is this someone you’d be interested in as a visiting artist? That way we work together from the beginning: the artists can come and teach and have a show up at the same time.
The museum has been What cross-programming getting lots of press. Are happens between you being approached university departments more often now about and the museum? taking shows and artists You want to take advantage of the expertise available on campus—although when we from elsewhere? put a show together, it’s regardless of extraaesthetic considerations. We’ll ask, how can we involve people more? But the theory is, a strong program generates interest, not the other way around. The School of International Service and the law school have done symposia that went with shows. And one of [our] next exhibits features work inspired by [Argentine writer Jorge Luis] Borges. A faculty member in the literature department had heard about it and put me in touch with an organizer. We’ll be teaching classes around the show.
How do you collaborate with the art department, which shares the Katzen Arts Center?
Definitely. The museum is the only venue here that can do politically charged shows. And because I have an interest in West Coast artists, especially the Beat Generation, I hear about shows like that. Art from the coast doesn’t seem to travel very well, but it’s great work and needs to get exposure here. I just got offered a show of Diebenkorn drawings from the 1950s and ’60s that have never been shown anywhere before. I’m really excited, though of course I’ll have to look into it a bit more.
Spring 2013 Exhibitions April 6–May 26 Lee Haner: Mischief Painting Borges: Art Interpreting Literature Timothy App: The Aesthetics of Precision, Forty-five Years of Painting Saturation Point: Nudashank Presents Jordan Bernier, David Armacost, Jamie Felton, and Alex Da Corte Crossing the Bifrost: MFA Thesis Exhibition Let’s talk #americanmag 25