Tuesday, February 17, 2015

An Introduction to Dr Jordana Pomeroy of the Frost Art Museum

Dr. Jordana Pomeroy
My interest in the Frost Art Museum in Miami was triggered by an announcement I saw last summer regarding an exhibition featuring Hong Kong-born artist Simon Ma. Ever since it seemed that every time I read a notice about an upcoming opening the caliber of work peaked my interest in seeing what would happen next.

On Valentine's Day the Frost hosted what looked to me to be another exciting opening for award-winning Chilean artist Mónica Bengoa titled Exercises de Style / Exercises in Style. As if that is not enough to give you a rush, this coming Saturday will be the opening reception for Xu Bing's Writing Between Heaven and Earth.

Because I've been following events at the Frost, it caught my eye when the Art Daily eNewsletter recently carried a news item that Dr. Jordana Pomeroy had been named the new director of the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at FIU. Previously she served as executive director at Louisiana State University’s Museum of Art in Baton Rouge. She is the author of numerous books on women and the arts.

EN: What is it that attracted you to the Frost?

Jordana Pomeroy: The possibility of leading an academic art museum in Miami immediately attracted my attention. While I have particular memories of vacationing with my grandmother in Miami, where she felt comfortable traveling to the beach resorts, now I associate Miami with explosive change and breathless anticipation. Miami has become a trendsetter and a place where anything is possible. To lead a museum at such a moment of explosion, and at an expanding university that reflects the city’s dynamism, was too compelling to resist.

EN: When did you first take an interest in a career in the arts?

Monica Bengoa
JP: Probably from the day I was born! My mother was a professor at Hunter College where she taught classics and history. My father continues to be a practicing architect. Travel for our family meant exploring museums, archaeological ruins, and making pilgramages to see architectural monuments and masterpieces. I specifically chose to attend Bryn Mawr College because of its academic strengths in art and archaeology.

EN: The Frost seems to have brought to the U.S. an impressive array of international artists these past few years. What, in the mission of the Frost, has led the museum in this direction?

JP: What museum doesn’t try to include international art and artists in its programming? It’s almost an expectation at this point in our globalized world that we not only look beyond our geographic boundaries but that we think as directors and curators about multicultural influence in the art world. The challenge is to create exhibitions that link history, geography, and chronology to create narratives for our audiences to appreciate. That is my interpretation of the Frost’s educational mission.

EN: What excites you most about the Xu Bing exhibition?

JP: Xu Bing’s art defines the original use of the term “awesome.” His installations are breathtaking in their ambition and conception. Then when you study the meaning behind the works of art, you can relate the artist’s ideas, for example, about rhetoric to political environments around the world where rhetoric substitutes for substance. Additionally, Xu Bing is a world-class artist whose works have graced the galleries of some of world’s best known museums. The Frost is a much more modest museum but we are capable of attracting top caliber artists to work in our galleries, which are quite special. Indeed the installation is nearly complete and I wouldn’t know if I were in London, New York, or at FIU in Florida. The works complement the galleries and vice-versa.

EN: In addition to a background in European art, you have developed a measure of expertise in women’s art history. What are the biggest challenges to finding the role women have played in art history in earlier times?

JP: The challenges presented are those that most historians face. Where are the voices of others who lived and worked at the same time as those who have already been adopted into the canon of art history? The history of women in the arts is still young and evolving, but it is a rich area of the arts to mine continually. Each exhibition and scholarly study contributes to establishing the roles women have played in the arts since ancient times. History evolves and the way we historians tell stories changes because new materials emerge, new scholarship is undertaken, and historians of different generations think differently. Students today expect diversity in their courses. Women’s studies, Queer Studies, Latin American Studies, African-American studies are offerings that simply did not exist 30 years ago but now that we see other histories emerge, we realize how peripheral our vision can be.

EN: What do you most look forward to in the year ahead at the Frost?

JP: Setting the highest standards for professional practice in the arts, expanding the range of exhibitions, increasing our educational impact on underserved communities, and attracting new members and visitors to museum. I want no less than to have members feel ownership of the museum and for the public to identify the Frost as an institution that’s engaged locally but thinks globally.

* * * *

The Mission of The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University is to enrich and educate local, national and international audiences through the language of art by collecting, preserving, researching, interpreting and exhibiting art from diverse cultures throughout human history.

Photos: Top right... Dr. Jordana Pomeroy
The bottom three feature Monica Bengoa and her work, courtesy The Frost Art Museum

No comments: