Curatorial Practice

Integrating curatorial practice

Curatorial practice is a bit of a buzzword lately, with courses and programs in Curatorial Studies offered at Art Colleges and Universities all over the world. The IB, in line with 21st century skills and practices, has designed the new Visual Arts curriculum to include aspects of curatorial practice. This will be most evident in part Part 3, The Exhibition, but these skills are reflected throughout the new curriculum.

What do we really mean by curatorial practice in terms of the IB Visual Art student?

curate comes from Latin: curare meaning "take care"; to curate is to oversee and care for a collection.

The art student is obviously not overseeing a collection in a museum but she is taking care of her own work, learning how to articulate it, how to present it, how to place it in context with other artwork. She is also looking at work by other artists and learning to be curious about the artist’s intentions, the various influences present, and the strategies used to communicate with the viewer.

For our purposes, students need to learn to do the following

  • Formulate an informed individual response to artwork encountered.
  • Develop intentionality in art making and awareness of own work in relation to other artists.
  • Consider how meaning is communicated in their artwork.
  • Develop the ability to be discerning and selective of own work.
  • Recognize “failures” and see them as room for growth.
  • Consider methods of display.
  • Become aware of the artist- viewer relationship
  • Look for coherence and connection among art works.

curatorial practice objectives quick look

How do we encourage this kind of learning in our art students?

Why artists make art

Students learn to…..

  • Formulate an informed individual response to art work encountered.
  • Develop intentionality in art making and awareness of own work in relation to other artists.


Supporting Activities

  • Visiting exhibitions, local galleries, meeting artists, studio visits, interviewing artists about their intentions, paying attention to how exhibitions are curated and documenting with written reflections in the Journal.
  • Relate the above to own art making (What are my intentions? What are my influences? My inspirations?)
  • Using artist’s statements to gather information and understanding about the artist’s intentions and “purpose”
  • Transcription activity, revisiting and transforming an artwork Transcribing an Art Work
  • Investigating Appropriation, “citing” other artists – the difference between knowing citation and plagiarism, explore this ToK question, what is originality?
  • Placing oneself as an artist in context, who are your influences, your inspirational figures, where does your work sit in relation to art you've encountered? This could take the form of a mind map, or a list, or a collage in the journal.

How do artists make work?

Students learn to……

  • Consider how meaning is communicated in their art work.
  • Develop the ability to be discerning and selective of own work.
  • Recognize “failures” and see them as room for growth.


Supporting Activities

  • Use critiques as an opportunity for learning to present work, discuss intentions, verbalize connections. The Critique
  • Go to visit an artist in the studio, or invite a visiting artist to talk about their own working methods and how they select work for exhibitions.
  • Journal reflection on pieces that feel like “failures”, examining why, and how they might lead to new developments, experimentation. ( Self Reflection)
  • Write reflective commentaries on individual artworks by a chosen artist (this can be in tandem with the artworks being compared in the CS). Write similar reflections on own artwork.
  • Compare two artworks by the same artist, one that you deem successful, one less so and explain your reasoning.
  • Select a few of your own pieces that “work together”. Now explain and justify your selection in the journal. Design a method of display (see activities below)

How is art presented?

Students learn to…..

  • Consider methods of display -What are methods of display? And how does this impact the viewers experience and understanding of the work?
  • Become aware of the artist- viewer relationship
  • Recognize coherence and connection among art works


Supporting Activities

  • Stage several mini exhibitions throughout the year, besides the final show. Try targeting a specific audience, ie primary school, how would you curate a show differently according to the audience?
  • Invite students to create site specific installations ( Installation Art ) that arise from the given context.
  • Discuss strategies for displaying work and engaging the viewer, i.e. designing the space, placements of works in relation to each other, viewer interactivity, lighting, plinths, supports, hanging, etc.
  • Select a few works that go together and design a method of display. The layout for this can be done in the Journal first. Explain how the works are connected and justify your choices.
  • Write exhibition texts for artworks: collect examples of exhibition texts from exhibitions visited or viewed online. Practice writing texts each time you finish a studio piece.
  • Create a virtual exhibition (Curating a Virtual Exhibition ) that explores artworks around a theme. Write an introduction and exhibition texts.

Curatorial Practice-integrating

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