Teens learn curating with exhibit that is first for Pelham Art Center


Jingyi Chen, Visceral Anarchy, watercolor and pastel, 2022

At first glance, a gallery may seem effortless. But the process of curating a show is meticulous. There are numerous phases, including conceptualizing a theme, putting together an open call, reviewing applications and submissions and denying some.

The Teen Artist Council at the Pelham Art Center executed this process for the first time in the “Mental Fragments Exhibition,” which will be open until May 7. The curatorial team examined the theme of experiencing change and the metamorphism that comes with it.

“I had never curated a show with a group of 15 teens,” said Charlotte Mouquin, the executive director of the Pelham Art Center and creator of the teen council. “I tried not to influence at all really. The council came up with the theme of the exhibition, and it came out of conversations of what was on people’s minds and what they thought a good theme would be.”

The council’s curatorial team includes Nola Brooks, Ain Maule, Amber Vizcarrondo-Abad, Natalie Nakayama, Kate Feldman, Violet Cleary, Nellie Koonce, Ghost Antelmi, Charlotte Cohn, Caser Mallett and Cararose Vitale. This was their first experience with creating an exhibition, and their experiences were positive.

“I would say that it was definitely very hectic and eye-opening to see all different types of mediums and designs,” said Cleary. “It is nice to see the art we organized and how the show flows from beginning to end.”

One of the objectives the Teen Artist Council had was to reach a wide range of artists and to make the open call accessible to all. The exhibition showcases people from all over, including submissions from an 18 month-old from India and a 12-year-old in Alabama. About one-third of the artists were local teens, and another third were professional artists. There is a variety of artworks that consist of change, whether it be moving away from home or dealing with loss. The outcome of this exhibition created a collaborative environment with people flowing from each artwork cognizant of the dedication put into each of them.

“It was great seeing a lot of different artworks,” said Vizcarrondo-Abad. “Since at school we don’t get the experience to venture out, and it was like getting a fresh pair of eyes.”

The art center will also be hosting a professional artists panel discussion Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m., and a teen artists panel discussion Saturday 1-3 p.m. for “Mental Fragments.”