Alamo City Arts

Meet the inaugural curator for Artpace San Antonio's newest program

Meet the inaugural curator for Artpace San Antonio's newest program

Artpace San Antonio 2016 exhibit
Erin Jenoa Gilbert is the first curator for Artpace's new program. Artpace San Antonio/Facebook

Artpace, the San Antonio organization offering residency and exhibition programs for contemporary artists, recently welcomed its first resident as part of the new Curatorial Residency program.

Erin Jenoa Gilbert, an independent curator from Chicago, is participating in a six-week program, through September 3, by visiting about 20 art studios throughout Central and South Texas to talk to artists who have created works on the themes of borders and migration.

The new program expands on Artpace’s International Artist-in-Residence program, which invites nine artists each year — a Texas artist, a national artist, and an international artist, all selected by a guest curator — to participate in an eight-week residency culminating in a two-month onsite exhibition.

“The Curatorial Residency represents a deepening of our programming and our commitment to South Texas artists,” said Artpace Executive Director Veronique Le Melle. “Through the International Artist-in-Residence program, hundreds of Texas artists have met with renowned international curators. The Curatorial Residency expands on this service by bringing even more national and international discourse to our region and continuing to promote the unique creative energy of South Texas.”

Through the new program, Gilbert will help tell the story of South Texas by building professional relationships with regional artists who often don’t have access to art critics, leading curators, and promotional opportunities, Le Melle said.

She will develop a writing portfolio with articles and blog posts to bring national and international attention to regional artists that will be shared through new and traditional media.

The program will also enable Gilbert, the first curator who is not an artist, to propose a future exhibition at Artpace.

The California native once lived overseas. Her family moved to Malawi when she was 9 years old, where her father worked for four years at a government agency that helped build schools and hospitals for refugees and refugee camps, she said. Living there informed the way she understood people and citizenship, and when her family moved back to the U.S., it led her to apply to the residency program in San Antonio.

“I lived in Marfa before and spent time in Texas, but I was particularly interested in what it meant to have a border, legal and illegal immigration, and refugee populations in the U.S.,” she said.

Gilbert said she is also interested in female artists who are exploring femininity and feminism in the present era.

“I want to walk away from a visit with an artist with the sense that they might be someone to collaborate with on a future project,” she said. “I have an exhibition I’d like to present in the next few years that considers these notions of migration, immigration, and refugee population.”

Gilbert is one of about 300 people who apply each year to the Texas Open Call to be considered for Artpace’s programs and exhibitions, including the International Artist-in-Residence program, Hudson Showroom, Main Space, Chalk It Up, workshops, and more.

Residency includes travel expenses, a living stipend, a materials budget, an apartment, and studio and exhibition space. Resident artists have access to fully equipped wood and metal workshops and a video-editing workstation, in addition to technical and administrative support.

“The International Artist-in-Residence program is what our organization was founded to do, and over the years, we’ve been home to many artists who have gone onto stellar careers,” Le Melle said.

“We’ve been home to some amazing artists and have worked with some fantastic curators internationally. I’m hoping this new component will grow to have as much of an illustrious list as our Artist-in-Residence does.”