Loren Lerner, Professor, Art History, Concordia University
“This workshop was great! Dr. Butler’s interdisciplinary approach to curation and art criticism really broadened my thinking for my assignments. I think that her concept of “dreaming” curation allows creative researchers to find new patterns and ways of seeing within the art world. Also, her unfussy non-hierarchal approach to the workshops and activities really fostered a sense of comfort and mutual respect – I think everyone seemed pretty comfortable/confident expressing their thoughts and criticisms freely.”
Student, Rethinking Visual Narratives in Contemporary Canadian Art, Concordia University
“Creating a virtual exhibition and finding its appropriate location took my examination of my three works from one that was built solely on words , as art history is, to one that brought my works into a physical space, where I, feeling a bit like a film maker, was now working solely with images. Thank you. I enjoyed the exercise especially in the group setting.”
“Shelley’s time with our museum staff was revelatory! We were surprised to find out how even our untraditional programming and walking tours could be explored through the process of curatorial dreaming!”
Tour Guide, Jewish Museum Montreal “The Curatorial Dreaming activity infused our day — and summer— with a creative push that is so valuable. The “constraints” given actually created a fertile and infinite bed of ideas. Thank you, Shelley! “
Richard Handler, Professor, Department of Anthropology & Director of Global Development Studies Program, University of Virginia:
“Shelley’s deep knowledge of museum studies and cultural politics was put at our service in a remarkably unobtrusive yet effective way.”
“In designing a study-abroad course to take University of Virginia students to study the cultural politics of museums in Quebec, I reached out to Shelley Butler and asked her to be our lead instructor for the first two days of the ten-day condensed course.
Shelley was superb. On the first day, she took us on a walking tour of several Montreal neighborhoods, orienting us to the placement of museums in the city and to various neighborhoods as cultural arenas we could study as if they were museums. She always called our attention to the social, cultural and historical factors that make a neighborhood a neighborhood and that make it worthy of our attention. In practical terms, she gave our students, most of whom had never been to Montreal, a number of good, local starting points for further explorations. As an example, she took us (quickly) to an open-mike coffee shop where, by chance, our students met a musician from McGill who connected them to local music scenes that they explored on their own throughout the duration of the visit.
On the second day, Shelley was our guide at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. She gave us an overview of the museum, and then focused on the five floors devoted to Quebec and Canadian art. She taught us why the MMFA’s organization of the exhibit, with its attention to Quebec artists in relationship to “Canadian” art scenes, was unique within Canada. She helped the students understand such issues as the relationship of Inuit art to Quebec and Canadian art; the relationship of settler colonialism to 19th– and 20th-century landscape painting, portraiture and folk art; and the emergence of various modernisms in relationship to sociocultural changes in Quebec society.
Shelley asked the students to take at least one picture to share with the group in our debriefing session, at Concordia University’s CEREV. She collated their pictures and led us in discussing each one—eliciting from each student the reasons for her choice and then stimulating the group to more general discussion that linked these chosen, singular images.
Shelley’s enthusiasm and friendliness were contagious and her love for the city obvious. The students (and I) learned an enormous amount from her. And I hope that this first course in Quebec will lead to further projects, with Shelley as a key participant.”
Students, Public Culture in the City, Concordia University:
“Thank you again for your workshop and close attention to our projects! It was a really formative experience.”
“You helped define the context of our intervention.”
“The atmosphere was super open, natural, and comfortable. It helped in concretizing ideas and honing in on more viable paths for our interventions.”
“I found it great in terms of creating a space for speaking candidly about difficult and sensitive subject matter”
Nadine Blumer, Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence, Concordia University:
“I was given the space to “dream” and imagine what I really wanted my exhibit to communicate. My curatorial dream session with Shelley Butler was creative as it was pragmatic. And completely necessary. I was working on my first ever exhibit and Shelley gave me the tools for thinking in terms of spatiality, audience engagement, appearance, and content.”
Stephanie Schwartz, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow,Concordia University & Past Research Director, Museum of Jewish Montreal
“I walked into the Curatorial Dreaming session with Shelley hoping to get re-energized by my postdoctoral research on Moroccan Jews in Montreal. This is precisely what happened.”
“Shelley asked great questions and helped me see new angles in my research that would appeal to diverse public audiences. I came out of the session with a tangible vision for how to realize my research as a pop-up exhibition.”