New for 2018: Guest Curators: Introducing Pennylane Shen

 VMF is evolving. The diversity of our curation process is beginning to reflect the diversity of our artists. In the first two years, we focused a lot of our energy on carving out a space for a mural festival to exist, moving forward we are investing in a more multi-faceted approach to artist selection and artist mentorship.   In addition to bringing Scott Sueme on board as the Graffiti Curator, we are over the moon to have brought aboard Pennylane Shen and Roxanne Charles to guest curate for the 2018 season. Their artist selections are not being made public until June 12th, so In anticipation of that announcement, let's get to know Pennylane.    What excites you about curating for VMF?  As a big proponent of how public art can and has transformed spaces, I’m looking forward to participating in this year’s curation process. Vancouver has so many extremely talented artists and image makers, it is an honour to select and pair them up with a wall. What excites me most will be seeing some of the work I’m familiar with, transformed on the large scale.    What are the challenges of curating for a public art festival like VMF?   The usual politics of curating any integrated or group show is always a challenge. Balancing which artist’s work looks and feels right next to another’s is not something we can control under the circumstances. This is an issue I personally find very difficult, as my experience has always been in curating shows within fine art venues with standard walls.    What is your background in the arts? OR What prepared you for this role?   I’m an artist consultant. I work with visual artists in Canada and around the world helping them achieve their goals in the industry or in their own practice. Seeing a little over 500 artists a year has allowed me to the grasp the spectrum of what’s out there and what can be done, as well as the trends in the industry that shift throughout each country.    What is really inspiring you right now to do your work?   In my travels and here in Vancouver, I sense a deep collective movement towards community building, shared ideas and empathetic design. I feel very lucky to be able to meet with individuals and have them be open-minded enough to share their work and practice with me, with the intention of getting better and working together. It involves a great deal of trust and risk, and it is something that never ceases to inspire me.    What has been a highlight of your career so far?  Travelling to various countries to speak to groups of artists and image makers has been the most rewarding aspect of my job so far.    What is the process you go through when curating an exhibition?   I like to work with an artist for some time before curating an exhibition with them. Developing a concept with the artist and seeing them through the entire process, I believe is a key component of curation. With group exhibitions it is important for me to consider each artists’ stage in their career as well as to make sure that each piece is relevant and speaks to the next one.    Do you have any advice for someone who would want to get into your line of work?  Get out there and see as many different kinds of exhibitions as possible, so that you fully understand the current climate of contemporary art and where your clients lie within that. This will also help when needing to speak about particularly genres, references or discourses, which is huge part of the job. Travel, inevitably, helps with this process. Make it a plan to see the work and inform yourself of a country or city’s particular background and taste.    Pennylane Shen @ www.dazedandconfucius.com

VMF is evolving. The diversity of our curation process is beginning to reflect the diversity of our artists. In the first two years, we focused a lot of our energy on carving out a space for a mural festival to exist, moving forward we are investing in a more multi-faceted approach to artist selection and artist mentorship. 

In addition to bringing Scott Sueme on board as the Graffiti Curator, we are over the moon to have brought aboard Pennylane Shen and Roxanne Charles to guest curate for the 2018 season. Their artist selections are not being made public until June 12th, so In anticipation of that announcement, let's get to know Pennylane. 

What excites you about curating for VMF?
As a big proponent of how public art can and has transformed spaces, I’m looking forward to participating in this year’s curation process. Vancouver has so many extremely talented artists and image makers, it is an honour to select and pair them up with a wall. What excites me most will be seeing some of the work I’m familiar with, transformed on the large scale.
 
What are the challenges of curating for a public art festival like VMF? 
The usual politics of curating any integrated or group show is always a challenge. Balancing which artist’s work looks and feels right next to another’s is not something we can control under the circumstances. This is an issue I personally find very difficult, as my experience has always been in curating shows within fine art venues with standard walls. 

What is your background in the arts? OR What prepared you for this role? 
I’m an artist consultant. I work with visual artists in Canada and around the world helping them achieve their goals in the industry or in their own practice. Seeing a little over 500 artists a year has allowed me to the grasp the spectrum of what’s out there and what can be done, as well as the trends in the industry that shift throughout each country. 

What is really inspiring you right now to do your work? 
In my travels and here in Vancouver, I sense a deep collective movement towards community building, shared ideas and empathetic design. I feel very lucky to be able to meet with individuals and have them be open-minded enough to share their work and practice with me, with the intention of getting better and working together. It involves a great deal of trust and risk, and it is something that never ceases to inspire me. 

What has been a highlight of your career so far?
Travelling to various countries to speak to groups of artists and image makers has been the most rewarding aspect of my job so far. 

What is the process you go through when curating an exhibition? 
I like to work with an artist for some time before curating an exhibition with them. Developing a concept with the artist and seeing them through the entire process, I believe is a key component of curation. With group exhibitions it is important for me to consider each artists’ stage in their career as well as to make sure that each piece is relevant and speaks to the next one. 

Do you have any advice for someone who would want to get into your line of work?
Get out there and see as many different kinds of exhibitions as possible, so that you fully understand the current climate of contemporary art and where your clients lie within that. This will also help when needing to speak about particularly genres, references or discourses, which is huge part of the job. Travel, inevitably, helps with this process. Make it a plan to see the work and inform yourself of a country or city’s particular background and taste. 

Pennylane Shen @ www.dazedandconfucius.com

David Vertesi