Q&A with Ciara Ennis
Director & Curator of Pitzer Art Galleries
This fall Ciara Ennis took over as director and curator of Pitzer College's art galleries including the Nichols Gallery and the new Lenzner Family Art Gallery in Atherton Hall. In addition to this role, Ennis is teaching a first-year seminar titled Curating: Past & Present and will also teach Studio Practice during the summer session. Megan Daniels '08 asked Ennis a few questions about her new job and art at Pitzer.
What is your educational background?
I grew up in London and earned my bachelor of arts in painting at Norwich School of Art. After studying painting at the Kunstakademie Karlsruhe for two years, I attended Central/St. Martins School of Art before pursuing my master's in visual arts administration, curating and commissioning contemporary art at the Royal College of Art.
Which galleries have you worked for in the past?
After graduating from the Royal College of Art, I went on to work as project coordinator (and later became project director) at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. I had the extraordinary opportunity of working directly with Chief Curator Paul Schimmel who taught me everything I know about curating. I later worked as associate curator at the Santa Monica Museum of Art and for the past two years I have turned my attention to large-scale thematic exhibitions at UCR/California Museum of Photography.
What attracted you to Pitzer College & what do you hope to accomplish here?
Because the galleries are fairly new (the Lenzner Family Art Gallery opened in September of this year) they don't have much of a history, which is really exciting to me. It presents an incredible opportunity and challenge to create a vibrant contemporary art program that not only exists within Pitzer, but also has its own identity outside the 5Cs. Pitzer is a unique environment. I've never worked in a place like this, where everyone seems genuinely happy to be here, it's extremely rare.
My aim as director and curator of Pitzer's art galleries is to create exciting and engaging contemporary art spaces that demonstrate a wide variety of aesthetic and narrative viewpoints. I strive to present exhibitions of the highest quality that uplift, educate and challenge, and to show art that increases the public profile of the gallery and Pitzer through innovations and risk-taking. I want students to feel that these galleries are theirs and that they don't always have to go to L.A. to see what is going on in the art world.
November 17, 2007 - January 12, 2008
Taking place simultaneously at the Nichols and Lenzner Family Art Galleries, Antarctica will be the subject of the largest photographic exhibition ever shown at Pitzer College. This exhibition, the first curated by Ciara Ennis at Pitzer, brings together the work of three extraordinary artists: Joyce Campbell, Anne Noble and Connie Samaras. Their collaborative work explores the subject of Antarctica, the coldest and most extreme continent on Earth. Each artist's work approaches the subject with differing yet interconnected critical frameworks. The result is a rich transcultural dialogue that seeks to serve as the de-exoticism of a landscape that has been romanticized, idealized and rendered epic.
Globalization: Choices & Changes
September 7 - October 20, 2007
IN THIS EXHIBITION Annu Palakunnathu Matthew and David H. Wells '79 approach the topic of globalization in India in different ways. In The Virtual Immigrant, Matthew explores the fluidity of identity and the dislocation of call center workers in India who technologically “migrate” during their workday. In The Newly Global and the Eternal, Dualities in South Asia, Wells investigates interactions between local culture and globalization's forces for change.
Humanitas: Inaugural exhibition
September 17 - October 31, 2007
FOCUSING ON individual and collective identity, Fredric Roberts' photographs taken in India, Cambodia, Bhutan, Myanmar and China explore the complex narratives and entwined relationships between people and the places where they live. Exuding compassion and unusual empathy, Roberts' powerful color works elegantly capture the disparate cultures, elaborate rituals and ever-shifting landscapes that he encountered along the way.