The sentiment “it takes a village to raise a child” is a bit shopworn, but the premise is sound. At the Woodson Art Museum, it takes the entire staff to manage the various aspects of Birds in Art. We tackle this yearly challenge for many weeks each summer.
I play a minor role in the process, but I’m thankful for the opportunity. It’s helpful to see early in the process images of the works included in the exhibition. For the last two weeks I’ve been reviewing the color proofs of the digital files submitted by artists. These images represent artists’ artworks in the 132-page publication now in production.
The most challenging aspect of viewing and making corrections to these files is communicating exactly the necessary changes. Commonly, I use phrases written directly on the image proofs, hoping to correct minor color shifts. “It’s a bit too red, so reduce magenta,” “paper should be white, reduce contrast,” or “it’s too dark over all – not sure the proper correction.” Not all the artworks have arrived at the Museum to compare with the digital file proofs, so this is just the first attempt. I’ll have additional opportunities later in the process to match the color representation in the catalogue perfectly with the original artwork. A stressful task but a challenge I mostly enjoy.
Another contribution I make is supervising the photography of artworks sent by artists who don’t have access to a professional photographer or prefer the results we get working with local photographer Peter Vance from The Studio, Schofield, Wisconsin. For one day, Peter happily brings all his photography equipment to the Woodson Art Museum to capture images of those works. This is preferable and safer than transporting twenty-plus artworks to his studio.
One by one, artwork by artwork, photos are taken and reviewed. The lights are adjusted, the computer calibrated, and the artwork aligned, as each image is checked carefully to verify it’s in focus and that no dust or small pieces of lint are visible – all necessary to achieve the perfect, color-correct representation.
The process takes several hours depending on the number of works. I see spots long afterward because, even after thirty years of supervising the process, I still look when Peter snaps the photo and the lights flash!
My colleagues are busy editing the narratives and information to accompany each artist’s artwork in the catalogue. Facts are checked dozens of times and each page read at least that many times, before finally the color-perfect images are added to the layout. Proudly, all this work is completed in-house, in eight short weeks by our talented staff – our notion of a village.