Art History professor Andrea Pappas was the curator for the 2008 de Saisset exhibit Eye on the Sixties: Vision, Body, and Soul. Not only was it a blockbuster show with works from many big names of the 1960s, but Santa Clara University students were actively involved in its creation.
Pappas taught a course (Exhibiting the Sixties) focusing on the era's art and on museum curation; students from the class got to write artist biographies for the Eye on the Sixties catalog, record audio tours, and organize special events for the show. Through it all, they got a close-up and detailed view of how museum shows are put together.
"They had a lot of energy about it," she says of the students' efforts. "Their writing was better, because this was real. It mattered."
She says taking the students to the Bay Area home of the show's benefactors, Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson, was illuminating.
"Art in a museum is still in an artificial environment. Most art is meant to be lived with, to have a family live with it," Pappas says. "My students saw a Pollock over the sideboard, a Diebenkorn over the couch. It changed the way they thought about art."
"This kind of real-world experience is what Santa Clara University excels at," Pappas says, "because the small community allows undergraduates to work closely with their professors."
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