Making Her Presence Known: behind the scenes of student curation at the Weatherspoon

Posted on September 06, 2022

Three students stand or sit around a museum exhibit made of cloth birds and flowers on a mannequin.

The Weatherspoon Art Museum is a place for students to find inspiration and to create. New exhibits encourage interaction with art and reflection on its cultural purpose.

This year, students in Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art History Nicole Scalissi’s Sophomore Seminar and the Art Museums and Exhibition Spaces class with the Weatherspoon Head of Exhibitions Dr. Emily Stamey will participate in researching a major promised gift of 20th Century Mexican prints for an exhibition in Spring 2023.

“Collaborating with students and learning from their research, perspectives, and voices, the Weatherspoon team expands its own knowledge and creativity — simultaneously learning more about not just the artworks in our collection, but their relevance to our students,” says Ann Grimaldi, curator of academic programming and head of education at the Weatherspoon.

As part of an independent study project in fall 2021 at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Angelica Henry ’22 curated the exhibition Make My Presence Known (previously on view January 15-April 2, 2022), learning from museum staff to choose the objects, come up with a thematic focus, design a gallery layout, and author all of the gallery texts.

In this short video, Henry takes the listener through her process of selecting the pieces on display, and why each one brings significance to the entire collection. “’Make My Presence Known’ is about offering an accessible space for students, for people that don’t necessarily find themselves in museum space, people that feel comfortable in museum space…providing a space that feels safe and as though you’re understood.”

She also talks about the value of this mentorship and curatorial project to her as a student and aspiring arts professional.

Henry’s mentor Dr. Stamey notes, “I learned so much from Angelica — both in discovering aspects of the works in the exhibition that I hadn’t considered before, and thinking through the ways in which I research and write as I try to share those skill sets with someone else. The smart questions she brought to each of our working sessions kept me thinking long after we’d left the museum for the day.”

The Weatherspoon looks forward to continuing collaborative work with the community of UNCG faculty and students.

Upcoming and ongoing exhibitions at the Weatherspoon art museum include:

  • Sheena Rose: Pause and Breath, We Got This (2021-2022)
  • The Eye and the Ear: Animations by Mary Ellen Bute (May 14-September 10, 2022) 
  • Bestiary: Animals as Symbols and Metaphors (June 11-December 3, 2022) 
  • Gilded: Contemporary Artists explore Value and Worth (September 10, 2022-April 8, 2023) 
  • Allora & Calzadilla, The Great Silence (September 17, 2022-January 7, 2023)

Written by Dana Broadus, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications


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