Relocated elements of art environments—and self-taught art in general—offer curators interesting challenges. At times, access to primary source material is limited and requires lengthy periods of research and investigation. Because of the nature of the works and the materials used in their creation, unprecedented or untraditional display methods are often required. However, of all the challenges curators face, the interpretation of the works themselves might pose the most daunting task of all.
Karen Patterson is senior curator at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC) in Sheboygan, WI. Her primary focus is the Arts Center’s premier collection of folk art, self-taught art, and artist environments. She incorporates these works into curatorial projects that explore a variety of contemporary themes. She also works with a range of artists, artworks, and commissioned site-specific pieces. In addition to curating the 2017 exhibitions series The Road Less Traveled, her recent curatorial projects include Ebony G. Patterson: Dead Treez, Ray Yoshida’s Museum of Extraordinary Values, and This Must Be The Place, an exhibition series exploring the relationship between artists and their formative places. Patterson completed her BA in folklore studies at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, and her Masters of Art Administration at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where her focus was the home collection of Chicago artist Ray Yoshida. Prior to joining JMKAC, she developed interpretive programs for house museums and heritage sites in Canada and the U.S. and cofounded a 12-hour public art festival, Nocturne: Art at Night, in Nova Scotia.
Valérie Rousseau has been curator of self-taught art and art brut at the American Folk Art Museum, NY, since 2013, where she curated the AAMC award–winning When the Curtain Never Comes Down on performance art (2015), and other critically acclaimed exhibitions, notably Art Brut in America: The Incursion of Jean Dubuffet (2015), William Van Genk (2014), and Bill Traylor (2013). Recent exhibitions included works by Eugen Gabritschevsky, Ronald Lockett, Melvin Way, Carlo Zinelli, Native American effigies, and Brazilian ex-votos. The founder and director of Société des arts indisciplinés, Montréal, from 2001 to 2007, Rousseau built an archive on art practices emerging outside the art mainstream and curated exhibitions, notably Richard Greaves: Anarchitect in 2006 at the Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland. Rousseau holds a PhD in art history and a master’s degree in art theory, both from Université du Québec à Montréal, and a master’s degree in anthropology from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. She is the author of numerous publications, among them Visionary Architectures (The Alternative Guide to the Universe, Hayward Gallery, 2013), Revealing Art Brut (Culture & Musées, 2010), and Vestiges de l’indiscipline (Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2007).
Katherine Jentleson is the Merrie and Dan Boone Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA. Jentleson is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Archives of American Art, the Dedalus Foundation, and Duke University, where she earned her PhD and wrote her dissertation on the rise of self-taught artists in the early twentieth century. Her exhibitions at the High Museum include Green Pastures: In Memory of Thornton Dial, A Cut Above: Wood Sculpture from the Gordon W. Bailey Collection, and Fever Within: The Art of Ronald Lockett.
Lisa Stone is curator of the Roger Brown Study Collection and adjunct associate professor in the department of art history, theory, and criticism, both at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her research, teaching, writing, and curating concerns artists who work independently from the academic mainstream, particularly environment builders whose work is often home/garden-based, ignoring or dissolving boundaries between home and studio, life, and art. A subtext of her research concerns the relationship of objects to creative practice. She works on a garden/ruin in Spring Lake, WI.