A great example for how to integrate a discussion about budget cuts, democracy into a class project.
From March 3rd to 19th, students in a course on curatorial methods taught by Professor Susette Min (AHI 401) at UC Davis presented Meet the Regents, an exhibit focusing on the California Master Plan for Higher Education and the role of The Regents of the University of California in relation to the recent UC budget crisis. As their press release stated: “Under Article IX, Section 9 of the California Constitution, The Regents are given “full powers of organization and governance” of all the UC campuses. The decisions to appoint Mark Yudof as UC President and to approve to increase student fees 32% were made by The Regents. Who are The Regents?”
Meet the Regents was co-curated by the students of AHI 401: Alison Flory, Ruthye Cole, Kevin Frances, Jane Oh, Elizabeth Ottenheimer, Lucille (Lucy) Potter, Dayanita Ramesh, Stan Nghia Trinh, and Camille Wheat. Two of those students Interview with Dayanita Ramesh and Lucille (Lucy) Potter agreed to be interviewed for UCIRA’s State of the Arts this summer after school was over and there was time to step back and reflect on this project. All photos by Jane Oh.
Going into this class, did you know that you would be making a project that was so timely and focused on the University of California budget and administration?
Lucille (Lucy) Potter: Originally, no. I’m a double major in biology and classics with little-to-no art/art history experience. I went into this course hoping to challenge myself in a new field and become acquainted with the world of museum curatorial studies.
The first day of class, we were presented with three different routes the quarter could take: purely theoretical with focus on lectures and field trips, the classic route of the course in which we would all propose different exhibit themes/designs and decide on one, and finally that we would each propose different curatorial visions for one topic: The UC Budget Crisis. While I’m not sure what the final vote was, I’m pretty sure there was resounding support for this latter choice… We were excited to have such a relevant yet versatile focal point to work with!
Dayanita Ramesh: Not at all, although I’m extremely pleased with how it all turned out. I’m actually an art history and international relations double major. One of my ideas for post-university is to possibly work for a museum or some kind of art institution, which is why I decided to take the class. I wanted to learn more about what it means to be a curator and how a show is actually set up in a museum. I had no idea that our class would become a group of curators. It was actually kind of amazing to work with so many different people to create and produce the show.
When Professor Min announced that we could curate our own show regarding the budget crisis, I think we all came to realize the power of our position. We already the space to display on campus and plenty of ideas, we just had to decide how to move forward.