Curator Viera Levitt visited Chester College of New England on October 13 as part of the Visiting Artists Symposium Lecture Series. So Good staff member Daniel Partridge had the opportunity to speak with her about her work.
Daniel Partridge: With your degree of experience, how has curating better fueled your interest in art?
Viera Levitt: As a curator, I have been very lucky to be able to watch artists at work and to discuss their art with them. This has given me more appreciation for the thoughtfulness and craft that goes into the making of a piece of art.
DP: Do you feel that being the youngest director of public art museum in the history of the Slovak Republic has allowed you more or less freedom in the contemporary art community?
VL: I certainly had suddenly more friends after becoming a director!
I had the freedom to organize ambitious projects and to work with great artists. I also was able to create joint projects involving well-respected contemporary art institutions throughout Europe. But, while fortunately I never was forced to compromise my expectations for a high level of quality in my shows, I was nonetheless pressured as the director of a regional museum, to include the works of so called ‘local artists’. Being a director also involved a set of social expectations, most of which, but not all, I enjoyed.
DP: Having traveled so widely, what drove you to finally settle in the U.S.?
VL: I had an Artslink residency at Graduate Studies at RISD in 2002. It was my first experience in the US, its museums, galleries and non-for profit organizations such as AS220 in Providence, and I met great people, particularly one, that I ended up marrying.
DP: Is there a certain presentation or event throughout your career that you feel defines you best? If so, please elaborate.
VL: I usually get into whatever show or project I’m working on at the time. The ones that define my curatorial preferences are those that tend to be interactive or those that create temporary communities appreciating art in unexpected venues. Two projects in that vein are; “Training” that involved renting an entire car in a regular train in Slovakia and having artists and curators working in tandem to install mediate art to a public of travelers (http://training.rgb.sk). And the second, a recent project that shared the similar element of travel bringing art to the public instead of public to the art – Mobile Art Project that I curated in collaboration with the Hera Gallery in Rhode Island (http://vieralevitt.org/mobileartproject.htm)
DP: Do you have any advice that you believe is crucial to those considering a career in museum curating?
VL: It is the one I got from Czech curator living in Italy, that brought an exceptional show of Bruno Munari to the art museum in Slovakia where I just started to work as I pursued my Masters of Art degree. She said that I would be a good curator because I have the most important quality needed for the job–curiosity. I believe it is true. Looking around, seeing artwork, trying to understand them, asking, discussing, even asking again. So yes, that’s also my advice–be curious!