The Blue Experience with Casie Lomeli

In a society where we’re constantly surrounded by images and colors, one color rises above the others in prominence and popularity: the color blue. Ruiz-Healy Art guest curator, Casie Lomeli explains how she developed the curatorial theme for the 2018 summer exhibition.  Blue is Not a Color features works of Jesse Amado, Richard Armendariz, Cecilia Biagini, Cecilia Paredes, Cade Bradshaw, Jennifer Ling Datchuk, Deliasofia Zacarias, and Andrea Reyes. The exhibition delves into each artist’s response to the color blue as it pertains to their own experiences and surroundings. Ranging from International Klein Blue to Azul Anil and the many shades in between, this group exhibition is an exciting and fresh take of monochrome works displayed within a diverse array of mediums.

 Deliasofia Zacarias: You have a background in art history and business with a few years of experience working at the Ruiz-Healy Art gallery — and this is your first time curating an exhibition. Congratulations! Have you always been interested in curating? Is this a career path you see yourself pursuing in the near future?

Casie Lomeli: Curating was definitely an interest that developed over time. It’s not something I had really seen myself doing, although the curiosity and interest were always there. Working at the gallery for a few years now has definitely given me insight into the process, but seeing and doing are wholly different experiences. Curating Blue is Not a Color has been such an educational and exciting adventure and I’m looking forward to curating more exhibitions in the future.

DZ: Earlier this year the Brooklyn Museum presented Infinite Blue, as part of A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum, a yearlong series of exhibitions celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. What was the original inspiration behind the curatorial theme in Blue is Not a Color at Ruiz-Healy Art?

CL: The idea stemmed from the  Artsy article, A Brief History of Blue. I was really struggling with settling on a theme for the show and when I came across this article, it led me to other Artsy articles that were focused on the history of different colors. And then I thought, you know, why not do this for an exhibition? The first artist that popped in my head was Jesse Amado because he very frequently works with International Klein Blue, and then I realized we have a number of artists that gravitate towards blue in their practice. After that, it was just a matter of selecting artists and the artwork.

DZ: How did you find artworks to include in this exhibition?

CL: A lot of the artwork that is a part of this exhibition was created specifically for this show. I selected the artists and asked them to create work that predominantly focuses on the color blue. The artists in the exhibition have such a diverse style from each other that when they all came together, it created a very fresh array of styles that compliment each other. The handful of pieces that I selected for the show I included because they are a good indication of the artist’s practice and speak to the theme in a special way.

DZ: You spent a lot of time in artists’ studios. What did you observe?

CL: Studio visits were my favorite part of the curation process. I was really getting to peek behind the curtain and get a glimpse into the inner thoughts of each artist. I think an artist’s studio can be a very sacred place and getting to see that space is very informative and very special. When you’re studying art history at university you’re usually learning about artists that have long since passed. Getting to speak with living artists and hear directly from them their intent is something I think that we take for granted as art historians. It’s one of the greatest opportunities.

DZ: How did your interaction with the artists evolve from your initial encounter with their work to studio visits, and then to the realization of the exhibition?

CL: Throughout the process, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of their artistic practice.

DZ: What has been the most rewarding part of all of this for you?

CL: The most rewarding part of this experience was in bringing a concept to life and getting to work with, and learn from, some really amazing artists.

DZ: So, is blue your favorite color? What would you say is the perfect shade of blue?

CL: Ha ha my favorite color is actually black. And I’m going to start reading about the history of the color black which I’m really excited about. The perfect shade of blue…I really enjoy the shade of Jesse Amado’s “Kill a Blue Jay”. There’s something about the composition and the color of that piece that really makes me feel like I can just fall into it.

DZ: How has your experiences studying in Italy and many years of working in Texas affected your curatorial philosophy?

CL: When I was in Italy I really focused on Renaissance art. That was my interest at the time. I wasn’t really exposed to contemporary art until I started working at Ruiz-Healy Art and it opened a whole new door for me. It’s enabled me to merge classical concepts and execution with contemporary theory and artwork.

DZ: San Antonio is home to a lot of emerging and established artists. What can universities do to foster conversation between fine arts students and business students so that the folks can, at a young age, understand what it entails to be an art administrator?

CL: I feel like the administration at universities and those at art institutions can work together more diligently to make students aware of the possibilities they have working in the art field. I mean, I remember telling people that I was studying art history and the automatic response is something along the lines of, “what can you do with that?” And the truth is, there is actually a lot. And art/art history and business, science, etc. are not disparate fields. An art/art history background can be utilized in various ways. For example, I have a strong interest in graphic design, marketing, and social media. I’ve taken my background in art history, learning about composition and color, and applied it to my other interests. There’s so much more we can be doing to spark conversation between students and arts professionals. It seems like the further removed you are from being a student, the more you forget what it was like. Yes, students should take the opportunity to reach out to arts professionals, but arts professionals should make it a mission to reach out to students. It’s up to us to be an active participant in this process.

DZ: What’s next?

CL: Ha ha. There are a few projects in the works…a new business venture. Hopefully more curatorial opportunities. I’m at a point in my life where I’m ready to dig in and hustle. I’m ready to create.


Recorded: August 3, 2018

Written by: Deliasofia Zacarias

Blue is Not a Color will be on view July 13 – September 1, 2018.

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