Methods of Display

Show it off

For Part 3, The Exhibition students are required to set up and present a selection of work, considering methods of display.

assessment objectives:

Students need to recognize coherence and connection among their chosen art works and be aware of how the method of display affects the viewers experience.

coherence and connection refers to a sense of continuity and connection among the works. The pieces share some common interests and fit together to create a unified body of work. This doesn't mean that the works all need to address the same subject or theme. You can present a body of work that is related through exploration of visual qualities or through exploration of ideas and concepts.

What are methods of display?

Essentially, how art work is put on view, placed, hung, lit, arranged and presented to the viewer.

Students should be able to explain "How do methods of display impact the viewers experience and understanding of the work?"

In the image here, the student has arranged her work in a semi circular shape, with some pieces on the wall (2D pieces and paper dresses ), on an easel, a tabletop and with a sculptural installation in the corner. The overall experience is enclosed, intimate, but spacious. The work is unified through both content (exploring issues of stoning and violence towards women) and visually, through use of materials and overall color scheme.

Points to consider when setting up the show :

  • What is the best use of space available?
  • How will you sequence the work? Chronological, size, content? What is your reasoning for this?
  • The lighting
  • Is there any interactive work that requires viewer participation?

Tip: Make sure you refer to these decisions in the Curatorial Rationale

Gain practical experience with these 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?
  • Observe 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. Explain how the works are connected and justify your choices.
  • Explore Exhibition Hanging Styles
  • 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 personal documentary collection of objects and devise a method of display
  • Go to a contemporary art gallery showing artworks you know nothing about and experience the difference between uninformed and informed response.
  • Consider the relationship between Artist and Audience
  • Curate a Virtual Exhibition that explores artworks around a theme. Write an introduction and exhibition texts.

2D methods of display

Teaching idea: Students make a selection of 6-10 their own drawings, prints or photos. Try out at least 3 different methods of displaying these pieces. Be unconventional!

  • On the wall in a row at eye level
  • On the wall in a square formation
  • On the wall at floor level
  • On the wall upside down
  • Arranged flat on a table
  • Illuminated with spotlights in a dark room

Photograph the results and compare.

  • How does display impact the viewer experience of the artwork?
  • How does display impact the meaning or message communicated?
  • Which method is most effective? Why?

3D Methods of display

Try the same thing with 3D work using a variety of supports, plinths, surfaces, backgrounds and lighting

Forget frames

Most work does NOT need a frame, unless the frame is part of the exhibition concept. In fact, many times framing places the work firmly in a conventional, old fashioned context, and it does not photograph well either (glare etc.) Encourage students to experiment freely with whatever space you have, they might find the work acquires new meaning or interest simply from how it is arranged. Drawing directly on the wall can also be a fun option, if you have permission.

I tried a variety of arrangements before deciding to place these small collages of composite trees at different heights and orientations on a wall. What other methods of display could have been used?

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