In the Davis Gallery at Houghton House, amidst a growing crowd of HWS students, faculty and friends stands a young woman, gazing intently at a painting of an austere child. Momentarily distant from the countless hushed conversations flowing throughout the gallery, the young curator is caught in a moment of well-earned tranquility.
This is Francesca Pittelli ’14, an art history major, European studies minor and a passionately creative mind whose curatorial collaboration with Professor of Writing and Rhetoric Cheryl Forbes brought Milton Avery’s “Cry Baby” and dozens of other works to Davis Gallery for a 14-day exhibition titled, “From the Outside Arranging In.” For Pittelli, seeing Avery’s piece hanging in Houghton House is the culmination of months of work, and perhaps more importantly, an impressive personal triumph.
Having spent the summer interning at the prestigious Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute located in Williamstown, Mass., Pittelli had the opportunity to exchange ideas and concepts with active curators while cultivating her passion for the arts.
“While at the Clark Institute, I had the opportunity to talk with the curator at Williams College Museum of Art,” Pittelli says. “They held a show similar to the one hosted here at HWS where faculty, coaches, and school and community members got to freely arrange pieces of art picked out by the curator.”
The work at Williams inspired Pittelli to try out a similar concept, allowing the individual to select his or her own pieces in order to make the event more personal. At the opening reception, the added touch of personalization drew a diverse crowd from both the HWS and Geneva communities.
Pittelli’s work on “From the Outside Arranging In” spanned two semesters, beginning in the fall of 2012 and culminating with the opening on Friday, Jan. 25. While the process of bringing the exhibition to Davis Gallery was laborious, Pittelli found solace in Forbes’ guidance. Forbes assisted in selecting an array of pieces that would comprise the show.
“Professor Forbes really knew what was needed,” Pittelli recalls. “Her distinct vision combined a variety of pieces, ranging from Avery’s “Cry Baby” to pieces created by Hobart and William Smith students.”
Bringing the exhibit to life required Pittelli to wear an assortment of hats, ranging from writing press releases to physically hanging the chosen pieces in the gallery. During the exhibition opening, the young curator’s mind was busy planning.
“There will definitely be a second show this semester,” Pittelli says. “We have people in mind who we have yet to ask, but we are definitely starting right away.”
The second gallery is set to open in March; however, with a closing date of Feb. 9 for the first show, students and faculty still have time to take in the inaugural effort. The Davis Gallery at Houghton House is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday with limited hours 1- 5 p.m. on Saturdays.