Inevitable Deterioration – Teen curated art exhibit – Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

Georges Braque
High Round Table
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Through the art exhibit Inevitable Deterioration the library’s teen curators Maria Lopez-Hernandez and Quinn Waugh explore artworks that demonstrate the aspects of natural cycles and mental health cycles. View this exhibit in the library rotunda and main hallway through July 14, 2023.

Everything undergoes periods of physical or mental decay. In nature this is a cycle of regeneration. Nature decays, reclaims and eventually rebuilds itself. Even in their own circumstances everyone is going through a similar cycle. Mental decay is influenced by personal trauma or stress from the state of the world. While not the same situation, the emotions we go through each day are comparable to the cycle of nature. Striving to keep a balance and reaching an equilibrium brings healing.

What does a teen curator do?

Curate This is a semi-annual program that brings teens from area high schools together to curate an exhibit. To begin the participants decide on a theme or main idea. The teen curators put out a call for art from high school artists and select pieces that help tell their story best. By looking through the artworks in the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery permanent collection (items the library owns), they fill out the exhibit. 

Maria Lopez deciding where to place art.

The guest curators research our records and use the library resources to create text for the exhibit, which includes information for the artwork labels. They also write a curatorial statement (see above) that explains the story or idea the exhibit is organized around. 

Teen curators learn to mat and frame artworks as needed. Deciding where each of the pieces and text will be placed is an important part of the layout process. Finally, the teen curators hang the artworks with careful measuring and leveling, and arrange the cases. 

Voila! It is a finished exhibit.

2023 Teen curators

Maria Lopez, senior at Washburn Rural High School

I grew up in Topeka and I have always had an interest in art. I’m a painter but I can also draw pretty decently. I plan on studying art in college and becoming an art professor.

Quinn Waugh,  junior at Topeka West High School

teen curators sitting in Claire's Amphitheater

Maria & Quinn

I love all things art and have been around it all my life. My mother is a painter in Topeka who works at ArtsConnect. I’ve always been interested in curation and am considering pursuing museum or library work. This program is great for exploring these interests more thoroughly.

While I do some visual art with painting, my main art form is music, specifically singing. I have been singing all my life and am planning on joining a college choir. I moved to Topeka in 6th grade and I am lucky to have found friends and made the connections I have with other like minded people.

I have always loved art and I’m a working artist. I mostly do photography and digital art but I also paint and make ceramics. I hold a fine art degree from Washburn University. I just love creating things.

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