Mandy Salter is an award-winning curator and inherent risk-taker who thrives on realizing new connections between art, diverse communities and commerce. Mandy Salter spearheads the integration of art, community, commerce by working with artists, and cultural stakeholders to spark public engagement through art experience.
DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A DIRECTOR AND CURATOR FOR THE ART GALLERY OF MISSISSAUGA.
MS: Well, to be honest I had no idea what to expect! I came here with a completely open mind and no expectations. The AGM’s incredible staff is key to the relevant and award-winning work we have been creating. We are a small but mighty team of women, with diverse backgrounds and skill sets. Our collaborative efforts have recently garnered us the prestigious Ontario Association of Art Galleries Award for Thematic Exhibition of the Year, Budget Under $20,000, for our exhibition Change Makers, which engaged the work of 7 global Indigenous artists. Our impactful Cultivate Corsair: Living Waters programme generously sponsored by TD’s Friends of the Environment, partners environmental artist Christopher McLeod with Corsair Public’s 700 students in creative learning about our regions watersheds and Indigenous history.
In terms of the art scene, I am encouraged by the diversity of work and the commitment to community and shared interest. The AGM has a strong history of working with national and international artists while understanding the importance of supporting local artists. We are proud of the AGM’s XIT-RM programme, generously funded by the RBC Emerging Artist Programme and specific to artists working in the 905 – a unique and important programme emphasizing the relational quality of the projects we develop and present.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVISE YOU'VE GIVEN TO THRIVE IN YOUR LINE OF WORK?
MS: Don’t apologize and keep smiling!
HOW HAS PERSONAL EXPERIENCES INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIVELY?
MS: My work as a curator, cultural producer and creative advocate is my studio practice. I’m working with artists because I’m searching for my own answers, trying to deepen my understanding of and relationship to art and the confusion around our world at this present moment. Artists often function as my spiritual directors, and they’re not even aware of it. Artists don’t make work to express what they already know about themselves and the world; they make work to explore what they don’t know. My work as a Director/ Curator is similar.
IF YOU COULD INTERVIEW AN ARTIST (DEAD OR ALIVE), WHO WOULD THAT PERSON BE?
MS: Off the top of my head:
Daphne Odjig as she was the driving force behind the Professional Native Indian Artists Association, colloquially known as the Indian Group of Seven, a group considered a pioneer in bringing First Nations art to the forefront of Canada's art world.
Agnes Martin for her bravery and honesty regarding sexual politics and mental health concerns.
Adrian Piper for her advocacy against the social unease of the civil rights movement and ultimately the unspoken tensions of race in America.
Claude Cahun to discuss her pioneering surrealist photographic work that provided artists permission to question sexual and social convention.
Artemisia Gentileschi for her passionate advocacy of gender equality and sexual liberation, in 17th century Italy!
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR AN UPCOMING EXHIBITION?
MS: I’ve been lucky enough to travel extensively and do studio visits in fascinating places around the world. I’m also a firm believer in sharing resources, and I have a group of curators and cultural producers I often share material with — many heads are better than one. I don’t look at art at art fairs. Rather, I opt for galleries, non-profits, and museums. I also refer to topical websites like Hyperallergic and I’m a huge Nowness fan.
Exhibitions are about relationships, whether the AGM is working with a large institution and or international artists or a local grass roots community group and local emerging talent, we work collaboratively to ensure shared interests and objectives. Our summer exhibition line up presents three exhibitions, The Family Camera: Missing Chapters partners with the Royal Ontario Museum to present the work of local, national and international artists alongside The Levellers and Trisha by regional artists Annie MacDonell and Vivek Shraya, both who hold a national reputation.
Sang Thai, Luong Thai Lu at Thap Ba Ponagar (Ponagar Tower), Nha Trang, Vietnam, 1962. Gelatin silver print. | Courtesy of the Lu-Thai family.
Annie MacDonell, Untitled Collage, 2017, collage on paper (detail) | Courtesy of the artist.
Vivek Shraya, Trisha 2b, 2015, digital print (detail)
HOW ARE EXHIBITIONS BORN?
MS: I tend to gravitate towards thematic exhibitions. Due to the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to travel a lot for my career, I already have a fairly extensive network of artists whose work I can draw on. Anytime I am organizing an exhibition though, I think of it as more of a collaborative effort with the artists involved. I think it’s great that individuals are able to play many different roles within the art world and share their knowledge and experience in a variety of ways.
I like the idea of a collaborative effort that expands the horizons of what is possible and who can be involved. My process has definitely developed over the years to be increasingly flexible. In the early stages of my career I was strong handed, but I have learned that it is more interesting to listen and share ideas with all parties involved, creating a dialogue around the creation of the exhibition itself.
HOW DO YOU ENVISION THE ART GALLERY OF MISSISSAUGA IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS?
MS: The AGM in its present form operates its programmes in just under 2,000 sq. ft., the smallest public gallery in the sixth largest and growing city in Canada! The AGM of the future will continue to support a platform for creative innovation that engages with a strong social agency, supporting artists, communities and a collection within the FIRST NEW NEXT platform for programmes and growth. I envision a unique story for the future AGM - a sustainable and cellular evolution with beautifully designed museum quality and well-proportioned exhibition spaces, and with a respected permanent collection of 20th and 21st century art by those Canadian artists who have traditionally been omitted from the institution. A progressive and sustainable new world model for a progressive new world city!
WHAT IS THE PROTOCOL FOR AGM SUBMISSIONS?
MS: The AGM welcomes an active interest from artists and cultural producers with broad cross-cultural perspectives and seeks out opportunities to engage migrant, indigenous communities and visible minority groups to create synergies through art and culture.
The Gallery is a creative platform for equal opportunity that actively seeks out and welcomes cultural diversity. We are interested in hearing from exceptional people. Our recruitment and selection process is comprehensive and rigorous to ensure that all applicants receive fair, equitable and objective treatment.
Please see the AGM website for proposal guidelines. Send your résumés and project proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Project Proposal for future consideration.