December 23, 2020

Five Questions with Ariel Zaccheo, Assistant Curator

Going back to the drawing board, reading for inspiration, and making contingency plans are part of the creative process for Ariel Zaccheo, a co-leader for one of INVT21’s Special Sessions.

Ariel Zaccheo tells us John Waters is her “ultimate hero” because “he started with nothing but his friends and a camera and created a whole new weird world to play in.” We love that answer, in part because she’ll be with two of her friends, Founding Partners of C2 (curatorsquared) Ginger Gregg Duggan and Judy Fox, on January 14 to co-lead “In/Visible Transparency: Design by Time”, one of INVT21’s Special Sessions.

Based in San Francisco, Ariel has been the Assistant Curator of the Museum of Craft and Design since 2015. Additionally, she has been the co-curator of the Artists Television Access Window Gallery since 2013 and was appointed to ATA’s Board of Directors in 2020. Her research focuses on contemporary craft applied to queer and feminist studies, and her writing has appeared in Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles, Surface Design Journal, and American Craft Magazine.

How does she see her role in the creative process? Read on….

What did 2020 bring into focus for you that you want to Re:Make, Re:Think, Re:Imagine, or Re:Design for 2021?

My work is in exhibitions. We usually take around two years to fully plan an exhibition from stem to stern, so we had to go back to the drawing board in 2020! In 2021, I hope to help redesign our process to be even more receptive and nimble to external conditions, but also to be more aware of who we are serving. For example, designing exhibitions to go virtual makes them more accessible in some ways, but less so in others. How do we strike a balance?

What is your relationship to the creative process?

Curators (and assistant curators!) balance and nurture our creative processes with administrative and logistical processes, in hopes that we can serve our artists and our community.

How or where do you find inspiration?

Reading and walking are my best sources of inspiration right now. So much of what seems new today is a reimagined version of something from history or nature. You see that so intimately while walking and noticing little details.

What was one of your biggest creative challenges?

I love to make long-term plans, and having to throw all of that out the window this year (several times) and start fresh has thrown my whole process off course. It’s ultimately positive, as it’s been a great teacher. Contingencies will be part of the plan from here on out!

When did you first realize you needed to be in a creative field?

Art has always been the best lens for me to understand history, politics, and empathy. It seemed natural to focus that lens on how I approached my life and career.

Bonus Round: What are you reading now?

Her Body and Other Parties (fiction) by Carmen Maria Machado and Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power (nonfiction) by Susan E. Cahan.