MOA Behind-the-Scenes: Exhibition Basics

More than 1,500 people came to the BYU Museum of Art on December 7 for the opening of We Could Be Heroes: The Mythology of Monsters and Heroes in Contemporary Art. The event, though, was months in the making.

What does it take to put together an original exhibition? The next few months, the MOA will feature interviews with several key players, including Jeff Lambson, Curator of Contemporary Art, who devised and curated the exhibition.

This month, we chat with his ever-able assistant, Seth Baldridge about the basics of the exhibition and about his role as curatorial assistant.

MOA: What kinds of art works are showing up in the exhibition? What will be its main attractions?

Baldridge: The exhibition will feature contemporary paintings, sculptures, installations, and video works. I think some of the main features will be the giant, one-eyed monster in a dress, the Loch Ness monster sculpture, and (with the recent Bigfoot sighting in Provo Canyon) the Bigfoot sculpture.

MOA: What does your role as curatorial assistant entail? What s it like working with Jeff?

Seth Baldridge, Curatorial Assistant

Baldridge: Jeff is mainly responsible for choosing artworks to put in the exhibition and for coming up with the main idea behind it. My job is to research those ideas and the individual artworks to help flesh out those ideas and find more ideas that relate to the works. Working with Jeff is really exciting, because he has a great understanding of contemporary art and the different kinds of topics that contemporary art addresses.

MOA: How does We Could Be Heroes bridge the gap between ancient traditions and pop culture?

Baldridge: The trends in modern superhero narratives can be traced back to ancient mythology, such as the signature costumes (Hercules’ lion skin, Spiderman’s webbed bodysuit), the sidekick (Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Batman and Robin), unique weaknesses (Achilles’ heel, Superman and Kryptonite), and the list goes on. We plan on explaining these connections in the text of the show.

MOA: How might BYU students relate to all this mythological thinking?

Baldridge: Biblical traditions have also played a role in forming the superhero mythos, with stories like David and Goliath, Samson, Moses, and others. In addition, heroes in the scriptures, like superheroes, have a history of being used to teach acceptable behavior.

MOA: What was the most satisfying aspect of working on exhibitions like We Could Be Heroes?

Baldridge: I think these works are fresh and exciting. I like the idea of people coming to the MOA for some unexpected surprises!

MOA: Why do you think people will love this exhibition?

Baldridge: There are going to be a lot of fun, interesting and accessible works, as well as some that will really challenge the viewer and their perspectives. Plus, there will be many familiar images that viewers will recognize and appreciate.