Covered in Time and History The Films of Ana Mendieta

ArtS 1001: Introduction to Contemporary Art and Theory
Spring 2015
Assignment Sheet for Exhibition Essay

For this assignment, you will analyze an exhibition currently on view in the Twin Cities that you can connect
to an issue of cultural diversity and social justice. For instance, consider exhibitions that explicitly take a
stance on how a cultural community is represented, how artists comment on issues ranging from injustice to
environmental issues to questions of identity. Consider visiting institutions whose collections include
artifacts from different cultures, or galleries that focus on showing work by specific communities. Keep in
mind that you have to choose an exhibition that will allow you to make a persuasive argument about the
show’s cultural significance. Not all exhibitions will be equally suitable for successfully completing this
assignment.

Once you have decided what you want to write about, spend time with the show and research it: what does
the curator think about the exhibition? Are there individual artists whose work stands out to you? What do
you think the exhibition wants to communicate? What does it say to you? For instance, if the exhibition means
to educate, did you learn something? If the work wants to challenge an audience’s views on a given subject, do
you feel challenged? This essay will require you to look at art currently on view in the Twin Cities and to read
curatorial statements, artist statements, and critical reviews (if these materials are available).

A successful essay will present a clear thesis statement on the cultural relevance of the exhibition. The thesis
statement will be supported by evidence from the exhibition, for instance, the selection and display of the
work, the material and formal choices evident in individual pieces, and how the individual pieces are curated
to work together as a whole. The essay should end with a well-supported conclusion on what the show has to
say, which values it conveys, and what its overall cultural significance is.

Your audience for this essay is anyone unfamiliar with the exhibition in question.

Formal Requirements:

Your essay has to have a title, be typed and double-spaced, in a standard typeface (Times New Roman or
Cambria). The text should be 12-point size, surrounded by margins no wider than one inch. All written
assignments should include a header with the course number, title, your name, and the assignment’s title in
the top left corner of the first page. The title for your essay should be centered on the first page. Remember
that all essays have to include page numbers. If you include citations, use MLA rules. Minimum length: three
full pages.

Grading Criteria:

(1) Length and formal requirements: Does the essay meet the required minimum length and all the
formal requirements?

An essay that meets all of the formal requirements explained on the assignment sheet will receive full
points. A successful essay will provide the title of the show, the name of the curator, the date, and the
venue of the exhibition.

(2) Structure/ organization: Does the essay present the writer’s ideas in a well-considered sequence?

A well-considered structure means that the essay begins with an engaging introduction and a clearly
stated thesis; proceeds with a clearly organized sequence of ideas through a number of internally
organized and sufficiently developed paragraphs; and ends with a conclusion that explains the
overall significance of the essay’s argument. A successful essay directs the reader from one
idea/paragraph to the next and pays attention to both the global structure of the argument as well as
the smaller “local” structures of each individual paragraph.
(3) Grammar and Style: Is the essay composed of complete sentences that abide by the rules of English
grammar? Does the writer pay attention to word choices and make an effort to present ideas in
expressive and interesting prose?

A successful essay abides by the rules of English grammar and presents ideas in expressive
language and a variety of sentence patterns. In order to write an engaging text, avoid repetition,
passive voice, filler phrases, and tentative language choices.

(4) Insight/Understanding: Does the essay focus on a solo or group exhibition suitable for examining its
cultural significance?

The successful essay establishes a clear connection between the subject discussed and a relevant
cultural context in the essay’s thesis statement. The writer demonstrates an in-depth understanding
of the point and purpose of the assignment and discusses the subject with a firmly established
connection to a culturally relevant issue or context.

(5) Analysis: Does the essay present a clear and coherent analysis of how the piece functions as a kind of
cultural commentary?

The successful essay presents a coherent and persuasive argument that establishes how and why the
exhibition makes a cultural commentary or contribution. An analysis should consider the formal
characteristics of the exhibition in detail and should connect them to the cultural framework relevant
for making sense of and with the work. As all successful arguments, the essay should proceed from a
clearly stated thesis to supporting evidence to a conclusion.

Four points equal highest achievement in each respective category.

exhibition by Ana Mendieat
Sepeptember 15- december 12, 2015

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