We spoke to the Hong Kong-based curator and artist Donna Yuen about the art ecosystem, the challenges of being an art curator, and how she came up with an exhibition theme.
- Can you tell us about your background?
I am an artist and curator and am fond of installation and painting. So after I studied Art Administration, I was looking for a place where I could host exhibitions. But then I found it tricky to turn the place into an exhibition venue on an execution level. So finally, this place has become an art studio and attracted a group of art enthusiasts who are artistically driven and full of passion.
What I love the most about this studio is the spark between artists with different backgrounds and skills and the ideas connecting and colliding while vision and horizon both widen at the same time.
- Why would you establish the Art tu: Gallery?
The primary reason is to rebalance and restructure the art ecosystem. I always have a question: Why sometimes can the artist only get the small parts of the profits. I want to make an impact, and I want to try selling our own artworks to earn higher profits. And hence I established Art tu: Gallery. We understand that a gallery’s running cost is enormous, so Art tu: Gallery is an online gallery that sells art pieces online and exhibits at local art fairs like the Affordable Art Fair.
- What are the challenges of being a curator?
Being an artist, we only have to focus on working on our artworks. However, as a curator, I need to find a place for an art exhibition, handle all of the administrative paperwork, ensure the language conveys the message of the art piece, prepare marketing and promotional materials for the exhibition, and so on. The aim is to make sure every visitor can understand the messages that the artists would like to communicate through the artworks, or at least, they can have some learnings or takeaways from the exhibition.
- How do you come up with an exhibition theme?
Most of my exhibition themes are always about exploring the relationship between artists and curators inspired by my Master’s research topic. I always regard the whole exhibition as one of the artworks. And the other theme that I work on most is “What is an art exhibition?” I think this is the question that most curators would ask themselves, and I would like to find the answer through working on exhibitions.
- How do photography and other art forms work together and influence each other?
From a curator’s point of view, photography is an essential tool for documentation. Therefore, it is convenient and vital for us to take photos of the artwork and post them on social media or use them on the marketing materials for promotional purposes.
Donna Yuen BIO:
Donna Yuen is an independent curator, artist, illustrator, children’s book author and also the founder of Art tu: Gallery. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2012 and obtained a MVA in Art Administration in 2016. She focuses on participating in the work of curation and exhibition management and considers an exhibition as an art piece, she uses different narrative methods to organize the multiple relationships between people, objects and spaces from the interpreter’s angle. In recent years, she has developed industrial materials such as metal, cement and fiberglass as her creative medium.