San Jose Museum of Art curator wants people to see their own stories


The San Jose Museum of Artwork is not just for “art” persons, says Lauren Schell Dickens. It’s for all kinds of people today, like family members with modest little ones and individuals who really do not generally pay a visit to museums at all.

“Everyone will come from a diverse position and engages with artwork in different ways,” the museum’s senior curator suggests.

We recently experienced the prospect to master a lot more about this San Jose native, who grew up in Sonoma County and now phone calls Oakland residence.

Q How did you get fascinated in artwork museums?

A I normally liked earning artwork but really don’t remember currently being really intrigued in museums as a kid. It was not until finally school, when I recognized that a museum encounter is far more than just seeking at paintings.

I examined theatrical mild style and design in college, and that training in imagining about lights, staging and the encounter of observing a portray are all section of how the tale of an artwork item is informed. It’s how artwork can be made use of to tell stories that genuinely hooked me.

Q What is it about visible art that captivates your awareness?

A I like all varieties of art — audio, dance, theater, literature — and many of the artists introduced at SJMA work in seem, motion, text, as well as visually.

Fantastic art operates on a register that logic or reason or language simply cannot contact. It can pull me in with splendor and then expose or display me something about the world, about folks and ordeals all over me that I hadn’t considered of or paid focus to right before.

Q What are the most demanding areas of your position? What are the most pleasurable?

A The most difficult element of my position is also the most pleasurable — I get to function with artists!

Artists play this kind of an critical role in culture — giving us new views on the globe and imagining alternatives for how we can inhabit this Earth collectively in approaches that are better than what we’re doing now. And they have wild, planet-modifying strategies. But artists desire major — as they should really — and controlling logistics and expectations of the several gamers included can be hard.

It can also be complicated to get audiences to slow down. Some people today want to seem at a sculpture and “get it” appropriate away, but comprehending, partaking can take time.

Q What was it like functioning at SJMA for the duration of the pandemic?

A The pandemic was definitely demanding. We had a wonderful exhibition on view that looked at art and prisons called “Barring Freedom,” which was only open up to the general public for nine times. It’s sort of heartbreaking, for us and the artists, when so significantly operate goes into a challenge that the general public doesn’t get to practical experience.

But we had time to pause in the course of the pandemic and definitely glance at ourselves, what we’d been accomplishing effectively that we wished to do additional of and what wasn’t doing the job.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - May 31: Lauren Schell Dickens, Senior Curator at San Jose Museum of Art, poses for a portrait on May 31, 2022, in San Jose, Calif. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)
Lauren Schell Dickens, Senior Curator at San Jose Museum of Art, poses for a portrait. (Dai Sugano/Bay Region Information Team) 

Q What is the museum’s mission — and what is your part in that?

A SJMA is about nurturing local community by means of modern artwork, highlighting stories of our a variety of communities and pursuing artists’ lead in partaking socially related subject areas like prisons, local weather disaster, immigration and id through artwork.

My occupation is to determine artists and artworks, the two regionally and from all over the world, that resonate with the lived realities of our South Bay audiences. The hope is that someone viewing the museum sees their possess tale — their history or goals or neighborhood or concerns — reflected in the artworks.

We want visitors to not only truly feel connected to their geographic neighbors, but make solidarities with communities around the earth.

Dickens’ favorite Bay Place museums

Headlands Center for the Arts: In the course of community open up studios, individuals can chat with residing artists and see will work in development at this Marin Headlands artwork hub — and the foodstuff in the mess is great


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