Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Meet the curator: Becky Dunham

by Diane Miller | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Arts | January 16th, 2014

Photo by J Earl Miller / Design by Raul Gomez

New Plains Art Museum curator Becky Dunham may have just moved to Fargo from Texas, but she sure hasn’t minded her new home’s extreme temperature drops.

“The weather, I love,” she said while sipping on a warm beverage at Atomic Coffee downtown.

“It’s really refreshing to be somewhere where there’s a real winter and where there’s a change of seasons, and you can see how that impacts the community and the culture and the lifestyle.”

Dunham is someone who is familiar with different cultures and communities. She’s lived all over the U.S., including North Carolina, Missouri and Florida, where she either studied art, taught college-level art history or worked in different museums.

“One lady, who was sort of mentor of mine, I’d asked her, ‘Do you have any advice for me before my internship at the museum ended?’ And she said, ‘Yeah. Work in as many different types of museums as you can to figure out what’s right for you.’”

So for the first decade of her career, Dunham found herself working at an assortment of museums, big and small, exposing herself to enormous amounts of outstanding contemporary and historic art.

However, it was while Dunham worked as assistant curator of Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts that she realized what she really wanted — to work in an art community like Fargo.

“I wanted to work in a smaller museum that was in a smaller community. I wanted to get away from the harsh, hot and humid climate of Texas ... In addition, I also wanted to be someplace where there were several colleges or being close to a couple of institutions of higher learning.”

“I started researching more about the community and realized it was the kind of the Holy Grail,” Dunham said of Fargo.

While the community is certainly the right fit for her, so is the museum, particularly because of its permanent collection, which is strongly upheld by works on paper, her strongest area of expertise. She also has a lot of experience in working with contemporary, living artists, similar to those regularly featured in the museum.

“With this type of arts community, that’s really important, that connection between the relationship between the museum and the local artists,” Dunham said.

Museum director and CEO Colleen Sheehy noted Dunham as a go-getter: “I’ve been very impressed by Becky’s tendency to just jump right in to her new community. She arrived in town the week of the FMVA Studio Crawl, and I think she visited almost every one of the artists — at least those in town.”

Dunham stressed the importance of having a deep understanding and awareness of not only our professional local talent, but also our young emerging artists.

“I feel like in a town where there’s a strong youth population, there’s a generation of young people who are staying here and who are — instead of moving off at a certain point in their life — they are deciding to stay here and raise their families here,” Dunham said.

In the few months she’s been here, the curator has already had the opportunity to meet a number of young artists while helping interim curator Christian Gion coordinate the exhibition “My Generation,” showcasing eight emerging Fargo/Midwestern artists.

For Dunham’s first “from-the-ground-up” project as the Plains Art Museum curator, she’s going after something big — the North Dakota oil boom.

“Every single day I’ve got someone calling me up saying, ‘I’ve got another artist,’” Dunham said.

This exhibition will showcase different artists’ reactions to what is going on in the western part of the state.

“So some of the responses have been positive, some of them more negative, some of them are just thought-provoking — just raising questions that just make you want to think about what is going on,” Dunham said.

Because art can be such an effective medium of expressing disdain, discomfort, excitement, reality, fears and anticipation, this exhibition could be an extraordinary motivator for positive action and change.

Other upcoming notable exhibitions Dunham mentioned include a One Minute Film Festival, where parts of the museum will turn into giant screening rooms for 60-second artistic videos. Then for February, the museum is teaming up with Minneapolis’ Northern Clay Center for an exhibition on contemporary ceramics, featuring some of the best ceramicists in the Midwest.

Though Dunham is used to moving from state to state, she said she is now ready to stay in one place, especially now that she’s found her “Holy Grail.”

“A lot of people have told me a lot of outsiders will come in and stay here for a few years and take off,” Dunham said. “But I’m kind of hoping the opposite will happen — that I’ll end up staying here for a long time. ... I really, really like the team that’s at the museum and I can see us continuing together for a long time.”

Recently in:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Policy, not law, has torn more than 2,300 children from their parents along the U.S.-Mexico border. Although immigration reform has been a heated topic for decades, the policy of zero tolerance began with a…

Culture

​Dream factory

by HPR Contributor

By Oscar de Leonoscarldeleonjr@gmail.comTucked away near the rolling hills of West Hollywood, Chris Haskell, a former student at MSUM, makes his usual trek into his office where he edits footage to craft trailers to some of the…

Monday, June 25, 7 p.m.Sanctuary Events Center, 670 4th Ave N, Fargo It’s no surprise that Q magazine dubbed The Flaming Lips one of the "50 Bands to See Before You Die," with their elaborate stage shows and multi-layered…

Just last week Raul and I were driving a rental car on the backroads of Mallorca, a small Mediterranean Island off the coast of Spain. Not gonna lie, my nose may or may not have been pressed hard against the window admiring the…

Ireland Has Sent Pope Francis and The Vatican A Dear John Letter: “It’s Over!”The Irish people and the Vatican have been developing a huge cultural grand canyon for decades over the issues of gender identities,…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

Every year the Fargo Moorhead area celebrates its love of food with Restaurant week. Each restaurant involved prepares a special menu to showcase the best of what they have to offer. This year there are seventeen restaurants…

Front Street Taproom has struck up a relation with local record shop, Vinyl Giant. There are two events where turntables are set up and people can play their records. Every Wednesday they host Vinyl Night from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m.…

Scaring up early buzz as a premiere in the Midnight section of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” is the horror film of the year. Anchored by the vital performance of Toni Collette as grieving,…

By Tayler Klimektklimek@cord.eduCome one, come all to the 59th anniversary of the Midwestern Invitational Art Exhibition! This tradition celebrates each year with a preview and awards selection the first night of its showing, with…

Projects have a tendency to take on a life of their own once they’ve reached a certain point. When the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre was established in 1946 to offer other local opportunities for artistic expression outside…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

By Ben Myhrebenmyhre35@gmail.comHow lucky we are in the FM area that we have so many craft breweries, but did you know that we also have two cider houses? Cottonwood Cider House is one of those cider houses and is just a short…

Best Local CelebrityCarson WentzBest Stylist / BarberJed Felix, Everett’s BarbershopBest Salon / Barber ShopEverett’s BarbershopBest Tattoo Parlor46 & 2 TattooBest Tattoo ArtistMeg Felix, No Coast TattooBest Gift ShopZandbroz…

By Melissa Martinmelissamartincounselor@live.comThink back to one of your worst small decisions. Then answer the following questions:How did you make the decision?What happened after the decision?When did you know it was the worst…

Last Word

​Keeping FM C.L.E.A.N

by HPR Contributor

By Paul JensenFargo, as the most populous city in the state with 120,000 inhabitants, added nearly 6,000 20-to-34-year-olds in 2015, just over five percent of the total population. Fargo is attracting well-educated young…