Updated: Apr 20, 2020
When we create art work, the primary goal is for it to be seen. Be it in a gallery, private collection, or some other alternative, the primary goal of art is for work to be seen and experienced. So, when creating a work the artist must take into account how they plan on displaying that work! I’m all for winging it when making work but the display isn’t the natural flowing of thought that the process of making the piece is. Building in the mount for display or understanding how certain pieces will relate to one another when displayed together is pivotal in the art making process.
I remember putting up work for my senior art show, the culmination of our school experience, and this person had brought in 4 or 5 wonderfully crafted sculptures and when asked how she wanted to hang them she had no idea. I was kind of blown away because sculptures aren’t like flat works, you can’t really just say fuck it and slap it on the wall, you’ve got to have some idea where this is going to hang, sit, or whatever. There were also people who were hanging 2-D work and had no idea how to make a cohesive display. It was mesmerizing some of the things people had ignored in their time at school! This shit is important, if you want your work to be seen, you’ve got to have an idea of how it’s going to be displayed because you’re not always going to be there to hold your work up and say, “look what I did.”
So, what I’m really trying to get at in this short blog is practice your displays, consider what you’re doing to mount the work. One of the best ways to practice this is in critiques, obviously this practice is mostly focused on the work, but we can’t really experience a work fully if it’s just leaned against a wall can we? No. So if you’ve got a piece that you’re not sure how to hang, talk with your peers, experiment with different ways to display it. If you’ve got a collection of pieces, lay them out, find the best way to create a cohesive display, one that shows what you’re trying to say by creating this series. No one is going to see your work if you don’t know how to display, folks! So practice it, it’s much easier to have a professor let you know your display didn’t work and then workshop how to make it better than to have a gallery owner laugh in your face out in the professional world. It’s an easy skill to overlook but it’s a necessary one.