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USC students take on the art of curating for new exhibit

March 31, 2010 |  2:08 pm

Two look-alike oil paintings hang side by side in an alcove of the Fisher Museum at USC: one in an intricate gold frame, the other pinned to the wall like a memo.

To the untrained eye both are the work of French painter Charles Émile Jacque, but USC senior Jayme Wilson points out a handful of flaws in the unframed painting.

"When you go into a museum, you trust that what you're looking at is a one of a kind," said Wilson, 22. "While researching [Fisher's] collection, we discovered there were other copies of the painting. We found this paradox of mass producing."

In a new approach to hands-on learning, a group of USC undergraduates has taken over Fisher Museum. The class project turned them into curators, forcing them to apply art theory to actual practice, and shut down a long-running exhibition in mid-run.

Over two weeks, the students mounted their makeover of the show, employed criticisms of traditional museum exhibits and used contemporary art and multimedia to rethink art history for the intervention, which they titled "re: View," on display through April 17.

For "re: View," the students were asked to offer a fresh take on the exhibit "Four Rooms and a View: Highlights From USC's Collection," which opened in January. Each student's project was based on how they reacted to the work already there.

To read my story about the student curators, click here.

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

're: View'  USC Fisher Museum, noon to 5 p.m Tuesdays through Fridays, noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays; ends April 17, free (213) 740-4561,

Photo: The painting at left, "Return to the Fold" by French painter Charles Émile Jacque, is part of the USC collection. USC senior Jayme Wilson found a similar painting at the Norton Simon Museum and commissioned a painter to copy it, which is the painting at right. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times