I've spoken before in this space about wanting to keep the multi in our multidisciplinary artist residency. In addition to the many visual artists we have hosted we have invited a poet, choreographer, theatrical director, writer, and now a curator. Mark Sloan is a fantastic visual artist, prolific author, and skilled arts administrator but his super power is curating. For the past 20 years he has been the senior curator and director at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC. He has curated hundreds of exhibitions, many of which have toured nationally and internationally. He has often dramatically advanced the profile and careers of emerging and mid-career artists through his spectacular exhibitions and publications. Mark was responsible for our discovery of one of our earlier Cassilhaus fellows Aldwyth. The post tells the whole wonderful story.
I've known Mark for a long time and we really wanted him to come for the residency. It took a bit of cajoling to get him to carve out the space in his densely packed schedule to come but once he did it seemed like it was meant to be. He grew up in this area so he didn't need any orientation but it also meant lots of friends and family that had designs on his time here. We tried to provide a "cone of silence" so he could actually retreat into the woods here.
I remembered Mark mentioning a curators gathering he organized a few years ago called the Kudzu Summit where he brought top contemporary curators from across the Southeast together for a multi-day workshop. I asked him if we could organize a smaller version of that at Cassilhaus and he was very enthusiastic. I decided to dub it Cassilhaus Contemporary Curator's Camp. :) We had 16 curators come from North and South Carolina and Virginia (one via Skype) for a full day workshop and exchange. Despite the jokes about archery, lanyards, and camp songs, it was an unqualified success and a rare opportunity for these folks to have collaborative exchange and work through questions or issues about upcoming exhibitions.
Mark asked each participant to talk about their work and upcoming projects.
One of the participants in curator camp was Dr. Mark Long, a political geographer and curator from the College of Charleston who has been one of Mark Sloan's long time collaborators. They are currently working on an exhibition (likely Fall of 2016) called Southbound about southern photography. They took advantage of their time here to do studio visits and develop a comprehensive artist list for consideration for the show.
The day after curator camp Mark took me and Laura Ritchie, the Director of the Carrack in Durham and another of the curator campers, to visit famous NC outsider artist Clyde Jones. Clyde is well known for his chain saw critters and for refusing to sell his art to anyone. He will only give it away.
Mark also gave a talk at Cassilhaus about how he does his work from organizing exhibitions to details on producing publications. The room was thick with photographers. It was almost exhausting to hear the breadth and depth of his efforts sometimes across multiple continents and multiple years to pull together his singular exhibitions. Despite often being faced with limited resources, everything he produces is at a world class level.
It was an incredible joy to have Mark spend time with us. He has much to teach, has infectious energy and enthusiasm, and is an all around spectacular human being. Thanks Mark for sharing your gifts.
Heaven is satisfied curiosity. --Paola Antonelli