Curator Spotlight/ Q and A: Caroline Haller
Caroline Haller is a North-Carolina based independent curator. Haller has an undergraduate degree in art history from Sweet Briar College and a graduate degree in art history from Lindenwood University. As a curatorial intern, Haller collaborated on several exhibitions at the North Carolina Museum of Art, including the reinstallation of its permanent collection. Currently, Haller serves as the personal assistant and curator to conceptual artist Philip Lawson. Additionally, Haller works as a curator for Art Dealer Street, writing weekly blog posts and planning exhibitions. Haller’s specializations include women artists and underrepresented mediums of art. Haller has a particular interest in art that explores domesticity, the female body, the male gaze, and marginalized mediums of art.
Did you always know you wanted to be a Curator?
No. However, I was born in Charleston, SC, and have been surrounded by arts, culture and history my whole life. When I attended Sweet Briar College, I had planned to major in archeology. I had a professor from England, who taught an 8 am Art History class in a dark, basement classroom. All my classmates were falling asleep, but I loved it though! I fell in love with Art History and went on to major in it! I completed a curatorial internship in 2015 at the Charleston Museum in Charleston, SC. This internship really solidified that I wanted to be a curator. Then, in 2020, I started working in the Modern and Contemporary art department at the North Carolina Museum of Art, which renewed my interest in Contemporary art. Now, I am working towards a career as a full-time Curator! I have found working independently very rewarding because I can work on a multitude of projects in many different veins.
How did the idea for this exhibition, From and To: reFuge, come about?
I wanted this exhibition to feel timely and engaged with the multiple perspectives that artists around the world are dealing with regarding shelter and refuge. That being said, this exhibition is meant to examine the physical space of shelter. It is an important concept that Contemporary art can help us understand the struggles and unique perspectives of people around the world. This is particularly important today because of the many ongoing refugee crises around the world. It speaks to how migrants adapt to their new places of refuge. With all this in mind, I sought out artists who were working with themes of domesticity, home, shelter and refuge in their art.
How did you find artists to participate in the exhibition?
Honestly, Instagram was the unexpected place I located many of the artists for this exhibition. Being a visual content based social media platform, it is a great resource for emerging artists to sell and display their art. It is also a great place to find artists who are interested in having their art featured virtually! These artists are so awesome and working so hard! They deserve to be shown and their work discussed. So, I was so happy to be able to do that and feature them.
What do you want viewers to take away from this exhibition?
When I started working on this exhibition, I expected there would be a lot more images of the iconic four walls and roof that we call a “house.” There certainly are those images that visually reference the physical “home,” but I realized through creating this exhibition, that refuge and shelter are truly ideas or concepts, not physical spaces. So, in a sense, there is actually a bit of an oxymoron with this exhibition. While the exhibition looks at the physical spaces of refuge and shelter, it does so through acknowledging that those physical spaces become shelters because of the mental and conceptual aspect of that individual’s creation.
The other thing I am really interested is bringing to light is this idea of domesticity in discord. In other words, I am interested in the breaking down of what we consider the perfect “home,” or the white picket fence notion. There is honestly so much that could be unpacked here. But I have an infinity for artistic mediums that have been labeled craft or “lesser arts” because of their association with feminine qualities. For instance, cross stitch, fabric mediums, and fans, are all seen as domestic crafts because they were typically produced in the home by women. In the 19th century, the Arts and Crafts Movement, and artists like William Morris, really sought to change the association of decorating the home with feminine craft.
However, today we still have issues with mediums other than painting and sculpture and often label them as “lesser.” Then, you add in the complexities with gender associations, and there is still a lot of work to be done!
Any final comments?
Please check out the exhibition! I am so thankful for all the friends, family and mentors who have continually supported me! I am so excited for you all to experience the exhibit. All the pieces in the show are available for purchase. Please support these artists and take home your own piece of this show!