Archive - January 2015

Happy 2015!

Posted January 10, 2015


Karen Starr

How the "Living With Art" exhibition at the Akron Art Museum came to be

Posted January 9, 2015

Last Spring, I received an email from Gina Thomas McGee, Associate Educator at the Akron Art Museum, who had an idea. She and her colleague Alison Caplan, Director of Education, were thinking about me in regards to a new series the museum was doing called, "Collection Interventions". 

"Collection Interventions" are exhibitions in The Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation Gallery in which the museum displays works from their collection in a surprising or unconventional way, not just in a typical gallery setting. The goal for the particular exhibiton they had in mind for me, called Living With Art, would be for visitors to explore and view art in an actual living space set up in the gallery. I would use works from the museum’s collection as people might display them in their homes, and design the gallery like I would design a client's home. (A designer's dream!!!)

So, after doing a happy dance in my desk chair upon reading the email, I immediately said "I'm in!", and set about to daydream about how I would approach this project to best reflect how I design.

The following week, I visited the museum to take a close look at the Corbin Gallery. Gina had sent me the floorplan so I had the dimensions I would need, but I wanted to get in there to spend some time really feeling the space, and to get a sense of how I might lay the room out eventually. That was a very fun day...the ideas really started forming about how I would approach the exhibition and I also had an incredible feeling that day of just how cool it was that I had been given this opportunity! So exciting!

As soon as I committed to this project, I knew that I wanted to approach the decor in true Hazel Tree fashion - by incorporating locally-made furniture and lighting whenever possible. (Lots more on that as we go!) I also knew that because the gallery is long and narrow, I would need to somehow break it up into different types of living spaces....all in that one room. 

To give you a glimpse of what I saw that first day, the images shown are of the Corbin Gallery with the then-current exhibition, as well as the floor plan for the gallery and the lobby outside.

Next week, I will talk about the day I spent at the museum behind the scenes, viewing the internal collection database and getting to know the team I would be working with.

This is The Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation Gallery, shown with the then-current exhibition. In February, Karen Starr and local furniture and lighting makers will transform the gallery into living spaces.

 The O'Neil Lobby outside of the Corbin Gallery will also get transformed into living spaces for the exhibition.