Meredith Lynn is the Assistant Curator and Director of Galleries at MoFA. In this post, she shares a few of her favorite online exhibitions.
What is an online exhibition?
One of the true (and perhaps only) joys of the pandemic has been watching the artform of the online exhibition take off. Six months ago, museum professionals and patrons alike groaned at the clunky virtual white cubes with awkward navigation and distorted images of art cut and pasted to the walls. But the remarkable projects that museums and artists have undertaken in the past few months have shown that online shows can create joy, wonder, and surprise – just like their in-person counterparts.
In this post, I will highlight just two projects that I have recently enjoyed very much. Both push at the definitions of what constitutes an exhibition and have shown me ways that MoFA can move forward, utilizing some skills we already have and potentially inspiring some new ones.
First, the Katonah Museum of Art in upstate New York is currently showing the quilts of Bisa Butler. The work is remarkable – beautiful, nuanced, and deeply surprising to those of us who have not kept up with contemporary quilting. The museum has published several videos on their website, and while none truly captures the exhibition, they do show us a more personal side of the artist and her process. I recommend checking out the video Bisa Butler: In the Studio. You will be jealous of her space, her art collection, and her incredible style and talent. I found her discussion of her time at Howard University to be particularly inspiring to me as a teacher.
I also recommend an interactive feature on the New York Time’s website that explores a wood print by Katsushika Hokusai in great detail. The site takes us in and out of close-ups of Ejiri in Suruga Province, offering insights into the process and the context for its making. Jason Farago offers us a master class in visual analysis, breaking down the image bit by bit, eventually telling a bigger story of 19th Century Japan and the problematic cultural exchange that fueled Europe’s romantic views of Asia and inspired French modernist painters.
What I love about both of these projects is the work. The art itself is great, and the digital features bring us closer to it, rather than emphasizing our physical distance.