Curator Interview: Stephanie Chefas

Platinum Blend 2 is the third exhibition curated by Stephanie Chefas here at the gallery. We are always thrilled to see the distinct voices and interesting perspectives of the artists that she brings to Modern Eden. We decided to ask her a few questions to delve a little deeper into her process and what it takes to put together an exhibition like Platinum Blend.
How long does it take to plan an exhibition?
It really depends on your resources and contacts. If curating is a new venture, it may take roughly a year or more to find a venue and bring artists on board. When I first began curating, it was also challenging to find a gallery who believed and supported my vision as a newbie. Running a gallery is a tough business, financially speaking, so not everyone is open to putting their trust in someone with no real prior experience. Anyway, the more you curate, the more relationships you develop and the easier it becomes. Fortunately, I've gotten to the point that if I needed to put together a show in less than two months, it's possible to do. Although, I'd prefer to have at least a good five or six months. 
What are the steps in curating an exhibition? 
If it's a themed show, obviously the theme needs to be fleshed out first. The next step would be to draw up a list of artists who you think would work well for the show and begin the invite process. Not every artist will have room for your show in his or her schedule or be interested in participating, so that's something to be aware of and to not take personally. It's a bummer at times when it happens, but it just means the timing isn't right. What happens after solidify the artist line-up is a plethora of emails relaying information, details, contracts, answering questions, gather art images, coordinating shipping, etc. If you're lucky enough to work with a good gallery (like me), the gallery will be there to help if need be and take on certain responsibilities such as press, website previews, installation, etc. 
Whew!
 
How do you find the artists for your curated exhibitions? 
Oh gosh, all over. The key is to keep your eyes (and mind) open everywhere. I make it a point to check out as many shows as I can, exposing myself to new artists constantly. I've even stumbled upon the work of an artist (who I now work with regularly) in a cigar bar while on vacation many years ago. The obvious places to discover artists would be social media, like Instagram and Facebook. It's kind of a 'lazy man' research tool because you don't need to leave the comfort of your couch in order to do it and can also be misleading because art has a completely different feel in person than it does through digital image. So it is important to experience the work in person if possible. The senses are able to grasp the artist's technique as well as the layers and texture within the work. The eye might even pick-up something that rendered as flat and undetectable in the digital version.  
Is there any deciding factors that may make you want to include or not include a particular artist in a show? 
I look for artists with a distinct voice and who possess the talent to back it up. Ultimately, his or her's work has to resonate with me. 
How do you find artworks to include in an exhibit?
Most often I request new work for shows and therefore not exactly sure what will be included until roughly a month leading up to the opening. It's an exercise in faith, meaning I have enough confidence in the artist to know that whatever is created will be excellent. When new work isn't feasible because either the artist may have a lot going on or the timeline is short, I'll usually receive a few pieces that aren't specifically created for the show from which I can choose. 
 
What is the rewarding part of all of this for you?
It's always refreshing to me when someone comes up during an opening and says that they've never heard of a particular artist in the show and that they really love the work. Moments like that remind me of one of the reasons I do what I do - to provide talented artists a platform to showcase their work and ideally reach a new audience. And the excitement I experience from the viewer makes it all worthwhile.

Platinum Blend 2 is on view through February 6, 2016 at Modern Eden Gallery. More information HERE.