Framed In Negatives: Honors Installation


Oakland, California 2017   |   Canon AE-1, Kodak Tri-X 400

Last semester, I was a part of a program that rounded up freshmen who academically excelled and have shown a mark of talent in our core studio classes. The Honor's Program gave us the opportunity to showcase our work in a group show. These images captured what goes on behind-the-scenes during the gallery set-up.

I was no stranger to group shows, having participated to a few prior to this one. This, however, was an entirely different experience in the way that every individual was immersed in the installation and participation of the overall show. From the materials and collaterals down to the equipment that we needed was handed over to us as our responsibility. Long before the show and before Christmas Break began, group sessions were also held wherein we had to share our ideas for the kind of work we would showcase and present drafts and work in progress of our final piece. Everything was executed in a professional manner; each meeting had certain agendas and was organized to fully prepare each and every individual for the event. This gave us an insight of how things worked in the art show industry: from the technical set-up to the code of conduct, and to the gallery rules. I never knew so much went into exhibits and artwork installations.

You'd think as an exhibiting artist, all you have to do is show up, hang your work and you're done. But no, it's not as simple as that. At least, if you were to be exhibiting your own show. There were a lot of technical rules that we had to observe, and it was truly an eye-opener and a full-on experience.


I learned a few things when I exhibited in a group show.


Considering other people’s work when you set-up.

It’s a group show, which means there’s diversity in the works that will be presented. Being considerate and respectful of other people’s works is rule of conduct.

Questions To Consider: How should the works be arranged in a certain way so that it would complement other participating artist's works surrounding a certain piece? Should I set-up the work next to an illustration or a sculpture? Should all media work be gathered in one space so the view flow will be more pleasing and cohesive to the audience?

Being responsible for the things you need.

Coming in prepared with the things you need shows responsibility for your own stuff.

Questions To Consider: Do you need tables, chairs, or extra props? Are monitors needed for film screening? What should be done in advance in order to gather all the required materials: check-out media or borrow from a friend?

Visualising how others will view your piece.

The space is your canvas and how you present it will determine how much your piece will stand out from the rest.

Questions To Consider: Should it be placed on a pedestal? Should it be hammered, pinned or attached to the wall? Should it be hung from the ceiling? At which height should it be installed so that it would be viewed better by the audience? *Based from this art show experience, there was a specific height we all had to follow when setting up our artworks, so that the view will be at eye-level to the audience and it wouldn't seem off or awkward.

Lighting makes all the difference.

Lighting makes things more dramatic and can make or break the piece you’re exhibiting.

Questions To Consider: Should it be lighted on all fronts? Or should the lights be dimmed or brightened? How should the shadows be cast by the lighting based on the presentation of the artwork? *The last question is extremely important when you're showcasing mixed media work like sculptures, installation or any 3D works because it determines how your piece will be viewed and the shadows can play an important role in the overall mood or ambiance that you want it to be presented.

Putting the right kind of information in the right place.

Artwork labels matter a lot — especially where they are placed, apparently. Having information accessible to everyone is important.

Questions To Consider: How will the labels be considered next to each piece so that it will have a universal placement? At which height should it be placed — eye-level, lower or higher? Should it be placed to the right or to the left of the artwork?


It's a whole bunch of technical things to consider and there's probably some more than what I’ve written, but that's certainly the gist of it. Nevertheless, it was a fun experience, especially the camaraderie that connects us with one another. The sense of sharing the very thing we've put our love, sweat, and tears into and experiencing it with a group of creatives turned it into an exciting journey.

It is in these events that I learn about other's works and creative process, and make acquaintances along the way. It's both enlightening and inspiring: the kind that makes my heart sing.

We were all studying different fields, pursuing different crafts, but it was the thrumming beat in our souls and the passion we've held onto that united us, as individuals, as well as our works. It was an incredible thing to be a part of.