Sunday November 18, 2012

WILLIAMSTOWN -- The latest exhibit at the Clark Art Institute brimming with artwork from renowned Impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Western illustrator Frederic Remington was curated by the curious and dissecting mind of a then 10-year-old girl, Giselle Ciulla.

On the third floor of the institute is the vision of a sixth-grader who first remembers visiting the Institute at "2 or 3."

She would look at the sculptures, paintings and other artwork and see a reflection of the artist, her head filled with questions where others merely saw impressive artwork.

"I want to think about what the artist felt," said Giselle, a Greater New York native who routinely visits the museum when visiting her grandparents in Williamstown.

Her display, "Giselle's Remix" will be on display through January 20.

Giselle's design, drafted using a software program available to the public at www.clark.
art.edu/remix, was unanimously chosen by a five-person in-house panel, besting hundreds of submissions from people 18 and younger.

Giselle's design was made during a visit in February, and she the museum contacted her in August to announce that her design was universally favored by the curators.

"I thought that e-mail was spam or they must not have known who they sent it to," said Ciulla about the notification.

Curatorial Coordinator Teresa O'Toole, who chaired the selection process, said the judges saw that Giselle had a "interesting and fresh perspective that was eloquently articulated" on labels describing what she saw with each painting.

There were some 80 paintings, 20 sculptures, and 300 decorative arts objects that could be chosen for display using the "Clark Remix" software program.

O'Toole said that judges were impressed that Giselle used the full mix of museum inventory, instead of just paintings. There was a thorough and analytical mind behind the painting labels she wrote up.

With each artwork, there was a reason and purpose behind the location and position.

There will be two other members of the public selected at a future date that will be allowed to design an exhibit, but on Saturday Giselle -- who had her image prominently displayed outside the third-floor exhibit -- had the spotlight.

There are four walls she sparingly decorated with two to three paintings for each wall and several display cases.

Her favorite spread is what she describes as the "blue wall." The wall includes American painters Winslow Homer's "Sleigh Ride" and Frederic Remington's "The Scout."

On the wall is a description about how the paintings came together: "This wall is my blue wall because all of the pictures have the color blue in them. ‘The Scout' and the sleigh painting both have a blue or lonely and sad feeling to them."

The third painting on the wall is Renoir's "View at Guernsey."

She purposely chose the cheerful and serene Renoir because she could envision those in the other two paintings aspiring for the scenic blue locale.

"Some look still, but this one is almost moving because it's wild and free," said Giselle, reflecting on the brush stroke.

There is a French-made pink tea set from 1812 in the middle of the exhibit.

"It's so noticeable from far away it'll draw people to come in," Giselle said.

Louise Ciulla, Giselle's grandmother, said her granddaughters has always been comfortable in art museums.

"I think there are some who are intimidated but she's relaxed and comfortable and she has fun and enjoys it," said Ciulla with pride and excitement.