By Devon Musgrave-Johnson
Earlier this month, Harrison Curley ’15, Emily Sussman ’15 and Sussman’s roommate Elise Rise shook up New York City’s Chinatown Soup café and art gallery with their curatorial debut exhibition entitled Terrible Children. During its opening reception on Jan. 14, more than 200 people passed through the small café over the course of three hours, viewing the art and consuming 48 bottles of wine.
The exhibition featured 20 pieces by nine young artists, including Curley, Ashley Thompson ’15 and Cat Raynor ’15. Each piece was available for sale, their prices ranging from $350 to $5,000. Two pieces — one by Rise, who graduated from Princeton University this past spring, which was listed for $350 and one by artist Brielle Mordant, listed for $1,200 — have already been sold, while talks are ongoing about two others.
Using Kickstarter, Curley, Sussman and Rise raised $3,000 in less than two weeks this past October to fund the project. From there, they had to find a space to hold their exhibition, gather pieces to display, get the word out about the exhibition, install the art, and figure out logistics for the event — all while working their day jobs.
“It was really ideal because we were working with so much fantastic talent, so we had all these fantastic people that would come in and help us do things,” Sussman said.
According to Curley, the classes and internships he had at Kenyon helped give him the skills he needed to complete this endeavor.
“We decided that we were going to do this, and we were going to make something that was all our own.” Curley said. “It was like we wanted it, so we went out and got it. I think what Kenyon gave us is very special: the ability to go out there and just make something we want happen.”
Since the exhibition opened during winter break, a few current Kenyon students were able to attend the event. Susannah Davies ’18, heard about the exhibit through a Facebook event Curley made.
“I thought the exhibit was really well done,” Davies said. “I’ve been to a lot of galleries but there was something about knowing the artist and the curator [that] added a lot to the enjoyment of the exhibition.”
Now that they have completed their first big project since graduation, the pair intends to keep moving forward.
“This was wonderful, amazing, and I’m proud of us, but we need to keep going,” Curley said. “I want to keep going until this is a thing that I do and not a thing that happened.”