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In a new Q&A series, we profile members of the McNay staff to show a behind-the-scenes look at all the people who make the McNay what it is! Today’s post features Jackie Edwards, McNay Assistant Curator. See Jackie’s curated exhibition, To See is To Have: Navigating Today’s Art Ecosystem, on view through August 16, 2017.
What is your role at the McNay? Walk us through a typical work day in your shoes.
I am the Assistant Curator at the McNay Art Museum, which means that I work directly with Rene Barilleaux (Head of Curatorial Affairs), Lyle Williams (Curator of Prints and Drawings), and Heather Lammers (Curator of the Collection/Sr. Exhibitions Manager) on many aspects of bringing exhibitions to realization in our galleries, drawn both from the permanent collection, and from other institutions/collections. From research and development, to writing wall labels, to exhibition design and layout, my duties are always varied depending on which exhibition I am working on. In addition to working on other curators’ projects, I develop my own as well. I organized the current exhibition, To See Is to Have: Navigating Today’s Art Ecosystem after working closely with the McNay Contemporary Collectors Forum (MCCF), sharing selections from their private collections with the public. That brings me to the other major part of my job, which is to work with Rene Barilleaux with MCCF and their sponsored activities and events. I help coordinate local trips the group takes to galleries, artist studios, and private collections; quarterly Executive Committee meetings; annual events including Art to the Power of Ten and View & Vote; as well as their trips throughout Texas and the US.
What do you like to do outside of work? What are your favorite things to do and places to go in San Antonio?
What I do primarily outside of work is spend time with my family! I am a mom to two terrific boys who keep me very busy, active, and laughing all the time. My husband is a filmmaker, and his schedule is quite busy during the week. We treasure our weekends together as a family, which means we end up watching lots of movies at home, going out to eat at our favorite restaurants, going on family walks around the neighborhood, and having friends and family over to the house for shared meals. I also LOVE to cook, as I learned to do so at a young age from my Italian/Puerto Rican father. I’m trying to get my boys in the kitchen more often to teach them the basics. We’re a creative family, and so we always enjoy trips to museums and galleries in San Antonio, as well as Austin, Houston, and Ft. Worth where we sometimes like to take road trips to visit.
What has been your favorite exhibition at the McNay so far? Tell us why.
I’ve been at the McNay almost five years, and in that amount of time I’ve worked on so many incredible exhibitions. I’d have to say my favorite so far has been Made in Germany: Contemporary Art from the Rubell Family Collection. It’s the first exhibition that I worked on very closely from inception to closing, as it was the first project Rene put me on when I started as the Semmes Foundation Intern in 2012. I was familiar with the artists included in the exhibition before I started working on it, and I learned so much throughout the process. Also, the final presentation was really exciting, especially the photographic work of Bernd and Hilla Becher, Thomas Ruff, Candida Hofer, and Thomas Demand. Seeing the monumental paintings of Gerhard Richter and Neo Rauch in our galleries was a revelation.
What is one thing about the McNay you wish everyone knew?
I don’t think people quite understand how unique Marion McNay was in her day. Back in 1929 when her house was completed, San Antonio did not look like it does today. It’s not as though she lived in the middle of nowhere, but she was surrounded by a lot of land and it took a long time to travel any great distance. Knowing the works she added to her collection during that time–works by modern masters including Picasso, Cezanne, Rivera, Dufy, and Chagall, among many others–and the planning and logistics that went in to getting those works to her home, is really inspiring. She had an eye for greatness and a real commitment to supporting artists, not only on the international stage, but she was a champion of Texas and Southwestern artists as well, many of whom are represented in our permanent collection from her bequest. It’s an honor to work in this museum, one that was established by a visionary art collector who happened to be a really strong woman.