Art Dubai has named American artist Sally Curcio as the lead for the seventh edition of the Sheikha Manal Little Artists Program.
The Little Artists Program, a frequently underpublicised part of Art Dubai’s public-service commitment to the cultural landscape, offers an opportunity for UAE-based youngsters to think creatively and put ideas into practice. The theme this year is ‘Creating New Worlds’, and that’s exactly what Sally Curcio does.
Curcio has exhibited her work throughout the USA and internationally, including at general and children’s’ museums; she was part of the impressive ‘Scale: Possibilities of Perspective’ exhibition New York’s Children’s Museum of The Arts last year. Her work is also in permanent collections around the States, including a couple of children’s’ hospitals.
The use of unusual media characterises Sally Curcio’s paintings, graphics, installations and assemblages. Perhaps her most characteristic style involves creating playful miniature worlds that are both visually complex and highly accessible; these works are encased in a protective transparent bubble, which is why she calls them ‘Bubble Sculptures’.
They are made from thousands of brilliantly coloured glass beads plus found objects, and Curcio has created scenarios for legendary places like Sherwood Forest, mythological centres like Atlantis, actual locales like Jackie Onassis Reservoir in New York City, and completely imaginary places like Metropolis.
It’s easy to find pertinent associations for the Bubble Sculptures – echoes of the innocent perspectives of childhood, suggestions of the fragility of our environment, pleasing visual possibilities for a brighter, more colourful view of the world.
Curcio herself says they recall how childhood fantasies could easily transform everyday objects into imagined artefacts and worlds; she recounts memories of leaning across a swing with her arms outstretched, imagining she was flying high above the ground. From those heights, she would envisage pebbles turning into cities and puddles into lakes. The Bubble Sculptures offers an opportunity to return to that form of engagement and play.
“I’m delighted to have been chosen as the lead artist for the seventh edition of this prestigious program,” said Curcio. “One of the key areas of focus in my work is engaging with children and teenagers, and I look forward to working with them on creating their own little utopias, while learning how to use their imagination, cooperate with each other and employ an inventive spirit.”
In her own practice Curcio uses unconventional materials to create new imagined environments. For the Sheikha Manal Little Artists Program she will be inviting the kids to produce their own urban landscapes through the use of miniatures and prototypes; materials such as coloured beads, balls, pipe cleaners, blocks, bottle caps, and other found and recycled material will be used.
The full schedule for the Sheikha Manal Little Artists Program will include on-site workshops at Art Dubai, the popular Discovery Tours for children and teenagers at the art fair, and the Artists-in-Schools Initiative with Curcio running workshops at selected schools.
The Sheikha Manal Little Artists Program was launched back in 2013 to provide access to skills and ideas for UAE-based children aged 5-17. Featuring artist-led workshops, tours and other projects, the program’s long-term aim is to encourage young people to get involved with and eventually excel in the arts.
Art Dubai runs 20-23 March at the Madinat Jumeirah.