Installing the 2014 Scholastic Art Awards

Work in progress: Supplies for installing the 2014 Scholastic Art Awards. Photo by Chelsea Emelie Kelly

Work in progress: Supplies for installing the 2014 Scholastic Art Awards. Photo by Chelsea Emelie Kelly

Picture this: Fall semester, high school years. You eagerly await your first art assignment, hoping to be given the added bonus of self-expression. A few weeks pass and you hand in your artwork, hoping it might be considered by your teacher for submission to the Scholastic Art Awards jurying process. Fast forward a few months–the jurying has been completed and… Congratulations! Your piece has been given a Gold Key award. You mark the Awards Ceremony date on your calendar, where your artwork will be on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum, and then… you wait.

But ever wonder what happens to your work while you’re waiting? Let’s take a look at the behind-the-scenes portion of the whole process.

Art Preparator Kelli Busch affixes one of the labels to the gallery wall. Photo by Chelsea Emelie Kelly

Art Preparator Kelli Busch affixes one of the labels to the gallery wall. Photo by Chelsea Emelie Kelly

First, all of the artwork that has been juried in to the show is organized into categories and given a label code. These codes help the installers identify two things: the category it falls into (example J = jewelry), and the number of pieces in each category. The entire code assigned to each piece (for example J15) helps identify which artist it belongs to, so that a proper label can be placed next to it after it has been installed.

After the coding is finished, it’s time to distribute the art. I’m the installer, who carefully chooses places that the artwork will fit well, not only in spacial dimensions but alongside whatever will be seen next to it. There has been between 350 and 400 artworks to arrange in previous years–and all of it needs a place in the galleries!

Art Preparator Kelli Busch prepares labels for the gallery walls. Photo by Chelsea Emelie Kelly

Art Preparator Kelli Busch prepares labels for the gallery walls. Photo by Chelsea Emelie Kelly

Each piece is laid out, measured, and spaced accordingly on the wall or on a pedestal. Then, and only then, all of the labels are placed next to each piece. All of this happens in a matter of about a week.

At the end of that week, all of the artists, their family, friends, and teachers, show up for the Awards Ceremony to see their art on the walls of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

It's not done yet! Lighting and labels still need to be added to this gallery wall before the opening on February 8. Photo by Chelsea Emelie Kelly

It’s not done yet! Lighting and labels still need to be added to this gallery wall before the opening on February 8. Photo by Chelsea Emelie Kelly

Editor’s Note: Join us for this year’s 2014 Scholastic Art Awards Celebration on February 8, 2014, at the Museum–view the finished installation as well as celebrate young artists from all over the state of Wisconsin! We hope to see you there.

Kelli Busch, Art Preparator

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One Response to Installing the 2014 Scholastic Art Awards

  1. Helena Ehlke says:

    great blog, Chelsea & Kelli!
    Helena Ehlke, Coordinator, The Scholastic Art Awards – Wisconsin

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