Student Exhibit Captures "Art in an Instant"

“Art in an Instant,” a rare student-curated exhibit by Julia Pressman ’10, is a retrospective of Polaroid photography, featuring the grainy moments in time captured on the instant film that made the former Waltham-based company made famous.
The exhibit, curated by Julia as part of her senior capstone project, features 53 works by 18 artists from all over the country that range from portraits to landscapes, from concrete to the abstract. The images are on display in the Installation Gallery at the Garthwaite Center for Science Art until April 30.
“Art in an Instant” will travel to St. Louis, MO for an exhibit at the Thomas Jefferson School in the fall. The exhibit has also been invited to travel to Poland for exhibit at a school there.
Julia said the inspiration for the project was spurred by Polaroid’s 2008 announcement that it would stop making its instant film with its all-too-familiar white borders.
“There’s a real democracy to the technology,” said Julia, who is headed to Oberlin College in the fall. “Anyone could take Polaroids. People could buy these cameras at places like Walmart, point and shoot and take pictures. But many artists used these cameras too, so you could find these pictures in family albums but also hanging in a museum. Something about that was really interesting to me.”
She said she found it intriguing that in the age of Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace, online forums that allow users to instantly share their images and viewpoints, that the company that popularized “instant gratification” media has folded.
As her capstone advisor, Todd Bartel, visual arts teacher and director of the Thompson Gallery, mentored her and supported her throughout the process, but Julia made the ultimate decision on the works displayed in the exhibit.
“ Her choices were impeccable,” he said. “It’s really rare for a high school student to curate an exhibition of professional artists. Julia handled everything, from writing a call for artists, to selecting the work, to emailing artists who were not accepted into the exhibition.”
Julia sent out a call for artists last fall, which drew submissions from 31 artists around the country. From the submissions, she selected the works that currently appear in the exhibit. The artists come from Chicago, Los Angeles, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
“There is real magic in this old type of photography,” Julia said. “Old ways of doing things still have a contemporary relevance.”
A gallery reception with artists featured in the show will be held on April 23 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Installation Gallery in the Garthwaite Center for Science and Art.
The Cambridge School of Weston is a progressive high school for day and boarding students in grades 9–12 and PG. CSW's mission is to provide a progressive education that emphasizes deep learning, meaningful relationships, and a dynamic program that inspires students to discover who they are and what their contribution is to their school, their community and the world.