In June 2020, the organizers of Exhibit Columbus announced a significant switch-up for the 2020–2021 iteration of Landmark Columbus Foundation’s flagship program. Under the leadership of Exhibit Columbus director Anne Surak, an inaugural Curatorial Fellowship was introduced with Iker Gil and Mimi Zeiger serving as the platform’s first-ever co-curators.
“Exhibit Columbus looks at its programs as a way to convene people and ideas, and move the cultural legacy of Columbus and everything it represents forward,” Anne Surak, director of Exhibit Columbus, told AN at the time. “Bringing in new voices to think about this from a curatorial perspective—and to take this program that we’ve built collectively and to add that other layer of critical thought and research—seemed like a great direction for us to go.”
Now, two very long years later, Exhibit Columbus has revealed another curatorial change of course—a new “great direction”—just ahead of the launch of the 2022–2023 cycle. The forthcoming fourth edition of Exhibit Columbus will place a renewed focus on community empowerment and, in lieu of curatorial fellows, has assembled a multidisciplinary team of six Curatorial Partners who will shepherd and shape the event, while working in concert with the leaders of four Columbus organizations as a means of zeroing in on “social infrastructure in the heart of the community,” a press release announcing the refreshed approach explained.
The organizational leaders will serve as J. Irwin and Xenia Miller Prize Community Curators, a role that will help the Curatorial Partners “shape the outcomes” of the 2022-2023 Exhibit Columbus Miller Prize recipients. Like with past cycles, the Miller Prize winners will conceive site-responsive installations at different prominent locations across the mid-sized city in south-central Indiana, world-renowned for its considerable trove of public art and modernist architectural landmarks designed by the likes of Eero and Eliel Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Richard Meier, Robert Venturi, Gunnar Birkerts, César Pelli, Harry Weese, and others.
What’s more, Exhibit Columbus has announced two major municipal partnerships, the first with the City of Columbus through a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Grant, and the second with the City of Bloomington’s Department of Economic and Sustainable Development. “The partnerships will allow the program to create learning opportunities with other municipalities,” the announcement explained. These, and other shifts, demonstrate the organization’s effort to make the program even more impactful locally, regionally, and nationally.”
The team of six Curatorial Partners, all of whom will be formally introduced during a two-part Community Kickoff event held on June 15 are: Paola Aguirre, an urban designer and founder of Chicago– and Texas-based collaborative research and design practice BORDERLESS; Chris Merritt, founding principal of Indianapolis and Pittsburgh-based landscape architecture studio Merritt Chase; Lauren M. Pacheco, a cultural and civic artist who serves as founding director of the Gary, Indiana-based Steel Studio Foundation; Bryony Roberts, a designer, writer, and educator (and past Miller Prize recipient) whose eponymous design and research practice is based in New York; Raymund Ryan, Curator-at-Large of the Heinz Architectural Center at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh; and Holly Warren, Assistant Director for the Arts in the City of Bloomington’s Economic and Sustainable Development Department.
As for the four Miller Prize Community Curators, they are: Jason Hatton, executive director of Bartholomew County Public Library; Dave Hayward, executive director of Columbus Public Works; Mark Jones, director of Columbus Parks and Recreation; and Dan Mustard, executive director of the Mill Race Center.
Preceding the June 15 introduction of the Curatorial Partners, Exhibit Columbus will host Downtown Reconsidered. At this June 14 Community Kickoff event, New York-based James Lima Planning + Development will publicly unveil a recent study that “explores ways to better activate downtown that leverages Columbus’ many existing assets (from arts and culture to the riverfront), provides diversified attractions on and around 4th Street, encourages people to explore more places, and produces a more vibrant environment and resilient economy,” per Exhibit Columbus. On hand to discuss how the “study connects to their downtowns” will be leaders from several Indiana cities including Don Griffin, deputy mayor of Bloomington; Steve Barnett, mayor of Franklin; and Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop. Moderating the conversation will be Scarlett Andrews, director of the Department of Metropolitan Development for the City of Indianapolis.
Registration details for the Exhibit Columbus 2022–2023 Community Kickoff events on June 14 and 15 can be found here. Both will be held in-person at the recently renovated Helen Haddad Hall, home to the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, and are free and open to the public.
“We are thrilled to kick off this cycle with so many dynamic and visionary leaders,” said Richard McCoy, executive director of Landmark Columbus Foundation, in a statement. “We have spent the past six months re-imaging how Exhibit Columbus connects with our community and how that can be relevant around the state and country. The whole organization is excited to push this cycle beyond the traditional art and architecture biennial construct.”
Beyond the June 14/15 Community Kickoff, the 2022–2023 edition of Exhibit Columbus will follow a similar two-year trajectory, timing-wise, as past iterations: The Symposium will be held in October of this year (more details are to follow) with Design Presentations to be held in February of next year. Last but not least is the Exhibition of Exhibit Columbus 2022–2024, which will be held, as mentioned, at sites across Columbus beginning in August 2023 and concluding that November.