Posts tagged ‘Lekha Hileman Waitoller’

We knew her back when: Lekha Hileman Waitoller

Last week, our friend and former colleague Lekha Hileman Waitoller began working at the Art Institute of Chicago as Exhibition Manager in the Department of Contemporary Art.

Her first big project: an upcoming exhibition of work by Steve McQueen, opening in October.

We’re impressed, but we’re not surprised.

Soon after arriving at ASU in the fall of 2008 to pursue an MA in art history in the School of Art, Lekha sought out opportunities at the ASU Art Museum and started as curatorial assistant. She worked closely with Senior Curator and Associate Director Heather Sealy Lineberry on a number of exhibition projects, large and small, from the collection and featuring international artist residencies and loans, exploring a range of disciplines and community programs and partnerships. In 2009, she curated the exhibition I Never Saw So Clearly, from the Museum’s permanent collection. The lively, smart exhibition focused on issues of identity and hybridity in contemporary art, informed by the research for her Master’s thesis on the work of Lorna Simpson and Steven Yazzie.

Then Lekha stepped in as interim curator in the fall of 2011. Her first big project was artist Jennifer Nelson’s Social Studies exhibition, Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project.

Lekha handled the project’s challenging content and ambitious scope (both hallmarks of our Social Studies exhibitions) with her usual aplomb, demonstrating grace under pressure whether she was helping lead a tour of a sniper school in the desert or facilitating a series of intense, and intensely moving, workshops involving people whose lives have been radically altered by a violent encounter.

The Museum also benefited from Lekha’s curatorial vision and organizational abilities when we revamped the Americas Gallery, on the second floor, which showcases pieces from the permanent collection.

We look forward to seeing what Lekha does in Chicago — the Art Institute is lucky to have her!

June 6, 2012 at 10:57 pm Leave a comment

Notes from Art Basel Miami Beach 2011

I’m starting to emerge from the haze of overstimulation and lack of sleep that is the Art Basel Miami Beach experience. This year Lekha Hileman Waitoller and I from the Museum went with a group from the School of Art that included Adriene Jenik, Director;  two faculty members, Susan Beiner and Mark Pomilio; and eight graduate students from a variety of media,  funded by a local donor. The benefit to all of us — particularly the grad students — is tremendous, as we fanned out all over the city to visit art fairs, private collections, museums, special installations and exhibitions. We noticed a number of trends, in particular painting that utilizes a range of processes and materials, and may not use paint at all, and text-based work diagramming systems and worlds, like the art world or the war.

Here are my highlights:

  • De La Cruz Collection, a spectacular building that rivals any museum and was thoughtfully installed with groupings of international contemporary works, dominated by paintings, that explored media and process
  • Pulse fair, established international galleries who represent edgier contemporary artists, I took copious notes and photos
  • Seven, an offshoot fair/installation by seven New York galleries, with, among other things, a small installation of new drawings and photographs by Anthony Goicolea, who will be in our Performing for the Camera show this spring
  • Bass Museum of Art’s perplexing exhibition of sculptor Erwin Wurm, which stays with me
  • the chance to spend time with work by two of the most important women artists of the twentieth century: at the Miami Art Museum Faith Ringgold’s paintings from the 1960s and 70s exploring race relations, and several installations in the private collections of Ana Mendieta’s performance videos and photographs
  • the main fair, Art Basel, which seemed livelier this year in terms of the art shown and the crowds and had great programs (we saw the Russian installation artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, among others)
  • the video programs in the pods at the main fair — which I immediately photographed for our installation crew — and projected at night outside on one of the largest screens that I have ever seen
  • and, finally, the opportunity to meet and connect with artists, curators, collectors and gallerists from across the country.

–Heather Sealy Lineberry, Senior Curator and Associate Director

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December 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm Leave a comment

This terrible thing has happened, I will never be the same: “Securing a free state” — Jennifer Nelson

When this project was percolating last year, thinking choreographically I
initially approached it with a dumb pun about the right to bear arms. I was
thinking about the way the mind fills the fire-“arm” with its
intention, and the way this intention penetrates social space with its
imperative to stop an attack (I’m taking a good-faith approach that those who
are armed for self-defense do not wish to do harm beyond stopping an attacker).
On the other side, I was thinking about the body’s integrity being violated by
violence, and the psychic and social consequences of that. I imagined a person
missing an arm to violence. I was wondering about phantom sensations in
the missing limb, and about the experiences of someone trying to heal by making
the body whole again through the use of a prosthetic limb. Can mind inhabit the
inanimate? What relationship can a person claim to the now public place where
his or her limb should have been?

But as I thought further, it became clear that the project would go deeper. I
would shift away from “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”
to the heart of the Amendment: “the security of a free state.” What
is a securely free state? What does that mean intimately? How do we carry this
in our bodies? We live with mortal vulnerability, and with the possibility,
however statistically slight, of facing violent conflict. We look for ways to
live with this terror, particularly if we have already been wounded and our
trust has already been broken. The evolving project sets out on this deeper
quest. So when we approached Michael Pack, owner of Artificial Limb
Specialists, about a field trip to his site, I carried both my first intention
and the evolving question.

Michael’s work, as a designer of custom prosthetic devices, is that of a
life-changer. He works with clients, most of whom have suffered a traumatic
injury from war or accident (rather than the #1 cause for limb loss: diabetes)
for months or even years to get the right prosthetic fit. It truly makes the
difference of whether a person can live a full and free life or not. Danny
Lujan, a client of many years who was present on our Thursday night field trip,
said that his psychological recovery from the loss of his lower leg only began
when the limb fit perfectly and he didn’t need to think about it anymore. We
spent the evening learning what it takes to design prosthesis to fit perfectly —
to become an extension of the body — and speaking with Danny about his emotional
relationship with both his lost leg and his prosthetic one. We also got a tour
of the workshop — a sculptor’s delight — for casting and shaping these amazing
devices. Michael’s clients compete in triathlons, scuba dive, rock climb, and
play with grandchildren. Danny was able to move forward literally and figuratively
after his accident. He got a degree, found his wife, and has a rewarding job.
But he says the first several years were really hard. His sense of personal
security changed. He feels more vulnerable. He still feels the lost leg,
sometimes it still hurts. Michael explains that a patient needs to bond with
their prosthetic leg to move forward, and for some people, life events make it
so difficult to take a forward-looking view of  loss: This terrible thing
has happened, I will never the be same.  How will this cause me to grow?

We’ll be examining that question in more detail on the field trip on Saturday,
October 29th to St. Luke’s Behavioral Health. Check it out — there are
participatory events for post-traumatic growth.

This Sunday at 11:00 a.m. we’ll eat pastries at a sniper training range while
discussing letting one’s guard down with sniper training instructor William
Graves. Please contact Lekha Hileman Waitoller if you would like to join us
(480-965-0497; lwaitoll@mainex1.asu.edu)

Jennifer Nelson, Social Studies artist

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All images by Sean Deckert.

October 20, 2011 at 10:04 pm 1 comment

Contemplating security from very different perspectives – Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project

Thursday, October 13 marks the first field trip for Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project, currently underway at ASU Art Museum. Jennifer Nelson’s Social Studies project, which focuses on security, takes us to two sites that will force us to contemplate security from very different perspectives.

On Thursday, we will visit Artificial Limb Specialists (2916 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85012) at 6:30 p.m. for a tour of the design facilities where custom prosthetics are made.

An individual who lost a limb  and uses a prosthetic will speak with us about how he inhabits his limb, what the prosthetic means for him emotionally, and his feelings of security or vulnerability with the limb.

On Sunday, October 23 at 11 a.m. we will visit a sniper training school that provides realistic training opportunities for individuals in law enforcement, military as well as civilians. We will observe a group of students as they go through their final exercises in sniper training and will discuss the topic of security from the perspective of someone who is prepared to encounter and deflect threats. The address for this field trip will be provided only to those who sign up to attend the tour. Car pools to the facility can be arranged.

Space for both fieldtrips is limited—for questions, or to sign up for either, please contact the project’s curator, Lekha Hileman Waitoller at lwaitoll@mainex1.asu.eduor 480-965-0497. Attendance to both field trips is suggested in order to more
fully understand the dialogue unfolding in Securing a free state.

–Lekha Hileman Waitoller, Interim Curator

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Photos by Jennifer Nelson.

October 12, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Opportunities to participate — Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project – Jennifer Nelson, Social Studies 7

Photograph courtesy of Sean Deckert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Nelson’s Social Studies residency at the ASU Art Museum has been going for about two weeks and we’ve already been to two shooting ranges, a sniper training school and a prosthetics design facility. As if this weren’t enough firsts for me, I also, in a trust-building exercise, allowed a SWAT team commander to lead me around a gallery with my eyes closed (although I cheated when I noted that I was being led into a dark corner). This project is shaping up to be a huge learning experience with nary a dull moment, and we have barely begun.

Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project is the second in a nonconsecutive series of projects by Jennifer Nelson on the Bill of Rights. While the Second Amendment is commonly thought about only as “the right to bear arms,” Jennifer selected another clause as her starting point for the project: “the security of a free state.”

Throughout the residency, group conversations, field trips and a public panel will engender a dialogue about security—how individuals find it and how we, collectively, think of it. Contemplating private and public security gives rise to a host of complexities, which and can at times seem incompatible. This dynamic negotiation of rights between the public and the private is what this project considers; in fact, it is what Jennifer’s body of work usually considers. (Read about her collaborative project Limerick Cookbook for an example.)

Jennifer, her husband and collaborator, Dimitri, and I have been laying the ground work for this project, which has taken us to the sites mentioned above. This past Saturday and then again next Saturday (October 8 and 15) are the first public opportunities for community members to come to the Museum and take part in the project. From noon-1:30 next Saturday, as we did this past Saturday, we will think about security through activities and conversations that are facilitated by two martial artists, an NRA certified firearms instructor and a trauma therapist.

Check out the full calendar of events below, which will continue to grow as the project develops. (We’ll be updating this blog with new opportunities and events as they arise.)

Lekha Hileman Waitoller, Interim Curator

CALENDAR OF EVENTS:

SATURDAYS IN THE GALLERY: On Saturday, October 8 and 15, members of the public have the opportunity to work with Jennifer from noon-1:30 p.m. These times provide a chance to explore martial practices and therapeutic exercises as we examine strategies for achieving personal security, and ponder what that means in a collective context. Visitors will work in a small group with a martial artist, a shooter and a trauma therapist specializing in somatic treatments to develop choreographies of self-defense and recovery.

Please wear loose-fitting clothes and athletic shoes, and because the gallery is chilly, some may want to bring an extra layer. Please arrive on time and plan to stay for 90 minutes.

PANEL DISCUSSION:
On Saturday, October 22 at 1:00 p.m. we will have a public panel with rotating moderators in the gallery for a discussion of the question: How do people find security? Come prepared to participate in what promises to be a lively discussion.

FIELD TRIPS:

A series of field trips will consider the link between the mind and its extension beyond the body. These include a visit to a prosthetics maker and fitter, which will be thought of as sites where sculpture is made and where one is driven by the need to feel physically whole after a violent interruption of their bodily integrity. The other is a trip to a sniper training facility, which will be considered a performative space where defensive security is practiced.

To sign up for the field trips, please contact Lekha Waitoller at 480-965-0497 or lwaitoll@mainex1.asu.edu

  • Thursday, October 13, 6:30 p.m.: a visit to Artificial Limb Specialists in Phoenix, where we will tour the prosthetics design facility and speak with an amputee who will share his experience about the physical transformation he has been through.
  • Sunday, October 23, 11:00 a.m.: a tour of GPS Defense Sniper School to understand the physical and psychological training for snipers.

This exhibition is supported by a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

The project was initiated by John D. Spiak and is curated by Lekha Hileman Waitoller.

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October 10, 2011 at 8:48 pm

The Americas Gallery gets a facelift — and the Museum gets an Interim Curator!

Lekha Hileman Waitoller, who wrote the post below about our newly revamped Americas Gallery, has been the Curatorial Assistant here at the ASU Art  Museum since 2008. Today we’re happy to announce that Lekha has agreed to serve as Interim Curator at the Museum until the end of 2011. Lekha received her Masters in Art History and Theory from ASU this spring, with a thesis titled “Destabilizing the Archive: Steven Yazzie, Lorna Simpson and the Counter-Archive.” She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism (with an emphasis on Photography) and one in Spanish from the University of Missouri.

Do come see the Americas Gallery, and, if you get here before August 27, you can also see Self-Referential: Art Looking at Art, an exhibition of works from the permanent collection that Lekha curated.


One of the great things about living in the desert in summer is that things slow down. Most of us find ourselves pulled in fewer directions and better able to hunker down and chip away at our long to-do lists.

For some time now the curatorial staff at the ASU Art Museum has been talking about how to make changes to the Americas Gallery—the gallery dedicated to works from the collection, including historic gems like our Georgia O’Keefe, David Alfaro Siquieros and Edward Hopper, (include hyperlinks that I have provided) that would otherwise be less available to our visitors, since our focus is on contemporary art.

Years ago, much thought went into how to show these favorites. The resulting installation was an active salon-style installation of portraits called FACES, a chronology of WORK in the Americas and a selection of paintings that describe PLACE/SPACE.

This summer we gave the gallery a facelift—a major one. Keeping with the original themes, we re-thought the Faces comparison through figurative sculpture—historic and contemporary—highlighting the ways artists have selected particular media and styles to convey meaning. The installation is purposefully spare, inviting the viewer to make comparisons between the dissimilar works.

Alison Saar’s Hi Yella (1991), left, stands in contrast to Hiram Powers’ George Washington (1849). Photo by Daniel Swadener.

Another major change is in the PLACE/SPACE installation, which loosely traces artistic styles describing both public and domestic spaces from the early 19th century through today. The earliest paintings look at landscape as a defining component of the United States’ national identity, while the most contemporary selections transition from Surrealist depictions to landscape demonstrating the collision of the personal and political.

Activating the gallery is a sculptural installation by the adventurous conceptual artist Dennis Oppenheim. The Last Dance plays on both PLACE/SPACE and figurative sculpture, as the work presents two figures suspended from the ceiling, comprised of nopal cacti. And play it does—animated by a fan motor, the figures “dance” to the tune of “Skokiaan.”

Dennis Oppenheim’s The Last Dance, 1994. Photo by Stu Mitnick.

We hope that you will enjoy what we’ve done with the Americas Gallery and that the powerful works on view will provoke questions and dialogue. Please let us know what you think!

Lekha Hileman Waitoller

Curatorial Assistant

August 24, 2011 at 6:26 pm 1 comment

Defending Diablo

NOTE: This is a composite photo-illustration of an anaconda by PR Assistant Karen Enters, not an actual representation of Diablo…

Last month, I defended Diablo in front of Arizona State University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

Diablo is the 6-foot Anaconda snake that will inhabit one of Juan Downey’s sculptures for the fall exhibition The Invisible Architect.

I have done a lot of things as a contemporary art curator, especially as the role has become more collaborative in the creative process and with the community. I have worked with artists on site-specific installations inside and outside of the Museum, commissions, residencies and socially-engaged work. (John Spiak’s blogs on this site about Gregory Sale’s Social Studies project are a great example.) But this is the first time that I’ve had to defend a live animal “protocol” or investigate the eating (and defecating) habits of large snakes.

We will be borrowing Diablo from the Phoenix Herpetological Society, and they will be caring for him throughout the exhibition and have fully vetted his three-month habitat.

Curiosity and spectacle aside, the reason that I’m doing this is because it is a very powerful piece. Downey first installed the work in 1973, and it was originally produced for a show at The Americas Society in New York. The snake lives during the exhibition on a spectacular hand-drawn map of Chile and is a reference to the North American multinational copper company the Anaconda Mining Company. Anaconda was active in Chile before the nationalization of mining in Chile, which is one of the factors that led international business and its governmental surrogates to eliminate elected democratic president Salvador Allende and replace his government with the Pinochet military regime.

Over the next few months, we’ll be building the platform for the piece and finalizing the exhibition design towards its opening in late September. Many thanks to Lekha Hileman Waitoller, curatorial assistant, who has been managing this effort. She has an interesting new line on her resume.

–Heather Sealy Lineberry
Senior Curator and Associate Director

August 5, 2011 at 6:31 pm


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