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Laura Phipps

Assistant Curator
Whitney Museum
of American Art

Laura Phipps, Assistant Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art

Photo by Jörg Meyer

© Hai-Wen Lin

Juror Statement

In reviewing the applicants for the Hopper Prize, what arises for me are the number of practices that evoke particular intimacies. These intimacies, which unfold across many mediums, suggest a lightness in moving through the world. I do not imply that this is a lightness of emotion or purpose–the world is a heavy place, one’s place in it is not a given–but instead a lightness that recognizes the ephemerality of the world and the vulnerability of all the beings in it. Seemingly approached for a variety of reasons, the intimacies I see translate to a focus on the things we touch,—our own bodies, the bodies of others, objects in our homes, books, leaves, rocks, grass, cement—as well as the things we desire to touch—–the recesses of our unconscious, the knowledge of our ancestors.

The emphasis reaching out, on touch that I perceive speaks to the histories held in objects, even those seem to have little obvious value. What does it mean for artists to hold, to draw, to mold, to capture the things around them…perhaps it is these acts that imbue objects with value or draw their histories out. To paraphrase some of these artists own words, reflected here are practices that emphasize the healing properties of domestic sanctuaries, see joyful rest as an act of reclamation, memorialize the beauty of everyday life, renegotiate the relationship between working and living, use material to deliver untold stories, and embody presence and offer the lightest of touches.

The works made by these artists are shot through with powerful and blatant curiosity about the world around them and, more specifically, the imprints that this world makes on people. These practices often capture the disconnect between the expectations of the world—or even the self—and its actual imprints. There is something both poetic and disconcerting, be it in domestic spaces or on political stages, in the confrontation of that disconnect.

© Derek Franklin

Curator Biography

Laura Phipps is an assistant curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is the curator of Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Memory Map, the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s work, and editor of the accompanying catalogue. Phipps has been at the Whitney since the summer of 2009, and her other recent projects include Around Day’s End: Downtown NYC 1970-1985, and Virginia Overton: Sculpture Gardens. She has also co-curated projects with Andrea Fraser, Michele Abeles and the show Flatlands of emerging painters. As co-chair of the Museum’s Indigenous Art, Artists and Audiences Working Group, Phipps has led institutional engagement and collaboration with Indigenous artists.

She has served on the grant selection committee of the The Velocity Fund and Rema Hort Mann Foundation, as a visiting curator at the University of Houston, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace and Smackmellon Studio Program, and as a guest curator at the Kentler Drawing Center, Brooklyn. Prior to the Whitney, Phipps worked in the curatorial department and director’s office of the Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth. She received her MA, Art History at Hunter College, CUNY and BFA, Studio Art and BS, Psychology from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.

© Ariana Gomez

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