Paper Trails challenges the preconceived notions of contemporary art and engages in aesthetic and conceptual conversations. On view through December 23 at Zane Bennett Contemporary Art in Santa Fe.
October 27–December 23, 2023
Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, Santa Fe
Could you tell us how you arrived at the idea for Paper Trails?
Looking at art history, it’s easy to think inspiration flows from famous artists to their less-famous contemporaries. But that’s a fallacy. Just look at the European modernists, who riffed on—or ripped off—lesser-known craft and design aesthetics from around the world. To understand how we’ve arrived at this moment, we must flip a lot of hierarchies that have formed in the traditional telling of art history. Calling the show Paper Trails was a cheeky way to call for a retracing of legacies. By putting famous and obscure historical printmakers in a room with contemporary artists, we’re rerouting lines of influence. It’s a bit forensic but in a playful way.
What are some of the challenges of putting together a cross-collection show?
The curatorial process was surprisingly smooth, partly because one of our goals at form & concept is to show that craftspeople have always been as concerned with storytelling in the same way artists from the Zane Bennett print collection are. By placing contemporary craft objects next to famous fine artists from the Zane Bennett collection, I’m hoping to generate an instant understanding of this in viewers. The hard work of former curatorial staff like Kylle Aragon Wallis and Marissa Fassano also helped the show’s aesthetic and narrative connections click into place.
Paper Trails is full of conceptual throughlines, not all of which are obvious. Can you tell us about your choice to leave some of the paper trails obscured?
Early in my curatorial career, I fixated on symmetry in exhibitions. There had to be a thematic or aesthetic “throw” and “catch” across every corner spelled out by copious wall text. Growing as a curator meant trusting the viewer to explore beyond the curatorial conceit. I have all sorts of ideas about why I placed squiggles by Sol LeWitt here or baskets by Tamara Burgh there, but you’ll have to tease those out for yourself. Or better yet, I’m hoping Paper Trails challenges viewers to become detectives and find links that I never imagined.
Finally, what is your favorite part of the show?
The front corner is probably my favorite zone. Robert Motherwell’s French Revolution Bicentennial Suite, with its jagged forms and red, white, and blue palette, forms a backdrop for craft objects that challenge notions of Americana, including porcelain cowboy boots by Jennifer Ling Datchuk and a blood-red pie by an anonymous artist—that corner is churning with humor, violence, and mystery.
To discover your own paper trail, visit the gallery at 435 South Guadalupe Street, Tuesday–Saturday, 10 am-5 pm, or explore the exhibition guide.