July 18-21, 2013
Where does the museum end and the “real world” begin? What can institutions teach us about the organization, exchange, valuation, and application of knowledge? What happens when traditional exhibition strategies and approaches go out the window?
On July 18-21, 2013, Portland-based artist Harrell Fletcher, in collaboration with the Exploratorium, will lead The Best Things in Museums Are the Windows, a four-day trek that follows a line of sight from the Exploratorium’s new home at Pier 15 on San Francisco’s waterfront across the Bay to the summit of Mt. Diablo some 40 miles away. A pioneer in the Social Practice movement, Fletcher has created this immersive, participatory project as an Artist-in-Residence at the Exploratorium.
“The title of the piece is a quote from the artist [Pierre] Bonnard,” says Fletcher. “The idea that you go to a museum and look at the paintings—which is great—but then you look out the windows and see how you can apply what you’ve learned in the museum to the world outside. You can see it anew because of that framework that’s been established in your mind.” He adds, “I think, even more so than other museums, the Exploratorium is about the experience you have there and how you apply it to your life in the world, your understanding of big and little things out there."
Loosely tracing the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) line, the path of The Windows will be seeded with demonstrations, screenings, talks, and workshops designed by members of the walking group and partnering individuals or groups from a variety of relevant communities and disciplines. These official stops, which are free and open to the public, will be native to the land and sea the group will traverse. The public is also invited to join the group and walk from site to site during the journey. An active web component will launch in late June 2013 at www.exploratorium.edu/arts/the-windows with descriptions of the stops and a “window” of time in which they are to take place.
A screening of selected films by the Exploratorium’s Cinema Arts program will lead people into ways of thinking about landscape on the evening of Wednesday, July 17, 2013, prior to the group’s departure the next morning. Another al fresco screening will entertain campers and members of the public at the foot of Mt. Diablo on the evening of July 20. A calendar of events at www.exploratorium.edu/visit/calendar/the-windows will be updated as the commencement of the trek approaches.
Like much of his work, the project reflects Fletcher's interest in artful investigation, community collaboration, informal learning, and shared experience. By extending the Exploratorium’s activities and ethos into everyday environments, The Windows works toward the greater integration of a cultural institution within its surrounding community.
“As we’ve learned over the last 40-plus years, the Exploratorium isn’t simply a place, but is instead an approach—a belief that the world is an open classroom to be investigated,” says Jordan Stein, Assistant Curator with the Center for Art & Inquiry at the Exploratorium, who worked closely with Fletcher on the project. “The Windows carries our institutional talent and curiosity across the Bay and up to a point of reflection, literally and metaphorically bridging the gap between here and there.
About Harrell Fletcher
Born in 1967 in Santa Maria, California, Harrell Fletcher has worked collaboratively and individually on a variety of socially engaged, interdisciplinary projects since the early 1990’s. Fletcher received his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and his MFA from California College of the Arts. He studied organic farming at UCSC and went on to work on a variety of small Community Supported Agriculture farms, which deeply impacted his work as an artist. His work has been shown at SFMoMA, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, Tate Modern London, The Drawing Center, Sculpture Center, and Smackmellon in New York, among others. A participant in the 2004 Whitney Biennial, Fletcher has work in several museum collections. He is an Associate Professor of Art and Social Practice at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.
About the Center for Art & Inquiry
The newly established Center for Art & Inquiry serves as a research-and-development center for the arts within the larger learning laboratory of the Exploratorium. The C.A.I. leads the Exploratorium’s arts strategy, expanding the museum’s focus on art as a medium for exploration, inquiry, and discovery. Working with program directors from across the museum as well as a council of national advisors, the center oversees the museum’s long-running Artist-in-Residence Program, hosts research fellows, and initiates special projects to advance work at the intersection of art and interdisciplinary learning. To learn more about the Exploratorium’s programs in the arts go to http://www.exploratorium.edu/arts.