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This 1950s inspired lounge offered visitors a more detailed look at the social and historical context to this exhibition, with an interactive element that allowed visitors to reflect and share their own stories, remembrances, and ideas about the period. The space included period inspired furniture, a jazz playlist, 1950s magazines, and photographs of the artists. 

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What visitors had to say: 

“It was like a reading room. It’s a place for people to hang out. First you are seeing the visual and then it’s kind of bringing you into the artists’ space and where their heads were at with what was going on at the time. You’re not just seeing the art; you’re seeing what was going on. I think it was really well done."

The Playlist

The playlist in this space incorporated the many musicians that the women of abstract expressionism referenced in interviews and writings.  This included Miles Davis, Big Joe Turner, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday, Buck Clayton, Lester Young, Bessie Smith, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Charles Mingus. You can listen to the full playlist here.

Visitor comments:

  • “I like that you get a place to sit down and listen to music and read about them without having to keep moving."
  • “I like the jazz music because it brings you back to that time.”
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The Magazines

Visitor comments:

  • “The magazines really give you a sense of that time. I grew up at that time so it was kind of like ‘ohh’ [laughs].”
  • “The ads are great. Aren’t they incredible? We were growing up with this stuff. It’s kind of scary.”
  • “They smell musky. I feel like I’m back in my basement.”
  • “I like the table with the 1950s magazines where you can enter the culture and have some little uncomfortable deja vu of those times.”

 

The Activity

The women featured in this exhibition were so much more than artists, they were also explorers, rule-breakers, activists, and friends. For this activity, visitors were encouraged to share a time that they were one of these things as well. The activity table included images of the women and a short quote or story about them for inspiration. See a few of our visitor responses below:

Visitor comments:

  • “These women were all working in the 50s and represent a new era or a groundbreaking era, which relates to all these categories.”
  • “This exhibition is all about women who did all those things. You’re trying to find ways for people to connect themselves to the artist and those categories. It’s really interesting to see how many people can relate to the art and put it into their own lives.”
  • “The idea of asking people to write down their experiences is a great idea. I’m still thinking about it!”
  • “It invites people to see themselves in the same roles as the artists, as explorers, and rulebreakers, and so on.”

The title wall became an unexpected selfie spot. #goals #alloftheabove


For this exhibition, I worked closely with the graphic designers to create a powerful introductory space to the exhibition. I also sourced all of the images and quotes for the individual artist title walls. A few examples can be seen below. 

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Institution: Denver Art Museum | Exhibition Design: Spatial Poetics | Graphic Design: Studiotrope Design Collective