A Mesmerizing Curator

Artists Curatorial Exhibitions Staff

Helen Zell has praise for Naomi Beckwith.

And I was not only blown away by Naomi, and the way she talked about Jimmy Robert, and talked about his work, and what he did. And then once the exhibition was mounted, being taken through and looking at his videos and his sculpture and his paintings, and I was mesmerized by her, absolutely mesmerized. I mean, in a way, it was sort of like going to a play at Steppenwolf, only the actor wasn't an actor, she was a brilliant curator imparting all this knowledge and getting me to be enthusiastic about this artist I'd never heard of. And she was the performer as well in the piece, as she took me through the exhibition. So that was a memorable experience.

It happened again with the music one. The Freedom Principle. And going through that exhibition with Naomi was one of the most memorable experiences of my entire life. I mean, I don't even have words to talk about it. I mean I just sort of lived the experience of listening to the music and looking at these artists and I'll never forget this. But I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that she is—she really is a performer in many ways with incredible intellectual acumen. But she's very dramatic. Very dramatic.

Interpretive installation by artist John Preus made in conjunction with The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now, MCA Chicago, Jul 11–Nov 22, 2015. Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago.

Interpretive installation by artist John Preus made in conjunction with The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now, MCA Chicago, Jul 11–Nov 22, 2015. Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now, MCA Chicago, Jul 11–Nov 22, 2015. Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now, MCA Chicago, Jul 11–Nov 22, 2015. Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago.

Renée Green, Space Poem #3 (Media Bicho), 2012. Polyester nylon and thread; 34 double-sided banners; each 22 x 17 ½ in. (55.9 x 44.5 cm); overall dimensions variable. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Installation view, The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now, MCA Chicago, Jul 11–Nov 22, 2015. Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago.

Renée Green, Space Poem #3 (Media Bicho), 2012. Polyester nylon and thread; 34 double-sided banners; each 22 x 17 ½ in. (55.9 x 44.5 cm); overall dimensions variable. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Installation view, The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now, MCA Chicago, Jul 11–Nov 22, 2015. Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago.

Naomi Beckwith. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Naomi Beckwith. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

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