Student Exhibition Transports GW to the Streets of Brazil

Senior Roxanne Goldberg’s show displays São Paulo aesthetic and enhances her curatorial experience.

Senior Roxanne Goldberg curated Gallery 102's “LEGAL: Branco, Gen, Tikka, Nick Alive, and Vermelho." (Rob Stewart/GW Today)
October 29, 2014
If you’ve walked by Gallery 102 this month, you may have noticed its walls ablaze with color. Five São Paulo-based artists have lit up the space with work that blends gritty coolness and electrifying charm, epitomizing the chromatic hustle-and-bustle of Brazil’s largest city. The look is bubblegum-pop-meets-scrappy-urban, kind of like a skateboard decorated in a rainbow of bright, sugary hues.
That actually is one of the pieces in “LEGAL: Branco, Gen, Tikka, Nick Alive, and Vermelho,” an exhibition that opened at the beginning of October and will run until this Friday. The show is the brainchild of senior Roxanne Goldberg, an art history major and journalism minor who frequently works as a student curator for Gallery 102. 
Last October, Ms. Goldberg organized an exhibition called “Caged In: D.C. Painters Explore the Aesthetic Influences of John Cage.” One of the artists in the show, Corcoran Professor Jeff Huntington, introduced her to Roberta Pardo, chair of exhibits at the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County and a patron of Brazilian street art, who described several Brazilian artists to Ms. Goldberg.
Ms. Goldberg was instantly intrigued. She absorbed the whimsy of TIKKA’s graffiti-inspired fairytale scenes, the bright buoyancy of Gen Duarte’s dynamic fish-like figures, the solemnity of Rodrigo Branco’s color-flecked faces. With such diverse content, it didn’t take long for Ms. Goldberg to decide she’d bring these pieces of Brazilian culture to campus. 
“In each of the artists' works, one can identify with a very honest human experience,” she said. “They are very accessible, and their bright colors and amiable presence are enough to perk up anyone's day.”
Ms. Goldberg aspires to earn a Ph.D. in art history with the goal of becoming a museum curator. She’s steady on that path. Already, she’s got a roster of experience, many engendered through opportunities with Gallery 102. She’s learned to engage artists in the area and has an understanding of how to draft contracts that establish legal agreements. She’s picked up lessons on transporting and handling art and ensuring that materials are properly cared for and protected. Ms. Goldberg has also become familiar with often-strenuous exhibition installation processes.
Her first show, Gallery 102’s “Sandy’s Stories: An Epilogue of Hurricane Sandy,” ruminated on the effect and aftermath of natural disasters, opening just three months after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in October 2012. Ms. Goldberg was a sophomore at the time, grappling with ways to find professional artists to participate in her show.
“I had no clue what I was doing. I scheduled studio visits with professional artists in D.C. who were incredibly kind and receptive, but I didn't know what the proper etiquette was, and I tried very hard to be professional,” Ms. Goldberg remembered.
But learning-by-doing served her well—nearly every artist Ms. Goldberg spoke to agreed to make original work for “Sandy’s Stories.” She drew on that first taste of curatorial know-how when she collaborated with two Ph.D. students to put together Gallery 102’s “art + evolution” in March 2013. 
Ms. Goldberg also took advantage of a study abroad trip to Berlin last year, using her time abroad to continue refining her skills. She organized a New York University Berlin student exhibition at a contemporary art gallery and worked for Berlin’s Thomas Eller Studios and the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art / KW Institute for Contemporary Art. Her resume also includes time as an interpretive guide at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, a job as a traveling exhibitions marketing assistant at the International Arts and Artists nonprofit organization and a current curatorial internship at Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum—experiences all facilitated by GW’s proximity to arts institutions.
By the time she started working on “LEGAL: Branco, Gen, Tikka, Nick Alive, and Vermelho” more than a year ago, Ms. Goldberg could adeptly handle the intricacies of coordinating a cross-continental exhibition. A Portuguese translator helped her get in touch with all the artists, several of whom flew to campus for the show’s opening.  One of the challenges in her first exhibition had been figuring how to properly install pieces. For “LEGAL: Branco, Gen, Tikka, Nick Alive, and Vermelho,” Ms. Goldberg led the installation process seamlessly.
“My experiences with Gallery 102 are a challenge personally and professionally, and they help me grow in both areas of my life,” she said. 
Ms. Goldberg continually pushes her own boundaries to create more complex, visually sophisticated exhibitions. She’s planning out “Sensorium: The Art of Perception,” which goes beyond traditional art and incorporates sound, smell, video and socially interactive mediums to teach viewers about wellness. “Sensorium” will premiere on Dec. 1 at Gallery 102. Several panels and workshops will take place on Dec. 5. Planned collaborations with faculty members in GW’s art history, English, psychology, anthropology and philosophy departments aim to make it a cross-disciplinary program. The exhibition will bring a new slew of complexities, but Ms. Goldberg is ready to face those head-on.
“The challenges and the learning process are what make curating such a joy,” she said.

Works Featured in "LEGAL: Branco, Gen, Tikka, Nick Alive, and Vermelho.”