12 Mar Eiteljorg Insider: Five Questions with Johanna M. Blume, Curator of Western Art, History, and Culture
By: Sophia Holt-Wilson, Eiteljorg Marketing and Communications Intern
Johanna M. Blume was recently promoted to the position of Curator of Western art, history, and culture at the Eiteljorg. She has been at the museum for almost 10 years and has curated many exhibits during her time here, including Gold! Riches and Ruin, Blake Little: Photographs from the Gay Rodeo, and The Reel West. Her most recent project is our newest exhibit, Quilts: Uncovering Women’s Stories which you can learn more about here.
Here are five questions to help you get to know Johanna better:
1. What is your favorite piece in the museum?
“I have several, but of my favorites is The Dry Ditch by Kenneth M. Adams. I love the emotion in it; I love that it can be interpreted in different ways; I love that it shows people in the landscape. That’s something that I am really interested in, how particularly in the American West people and the landscape influence one another; and I think it’s a really evocative painting for telling that story.”
2. When an exhibit you curated opens, what kind of reactions from visitors do you find to be the most rewarding?
“For me, the most rewarding is when someone shares a story with me or a comment that conveys that they feel seen in a way that they never have before, or that some aspect of their identity has been validated in a way that it hasn’t before. That’s an incredible feeling; and a big part of what we are working to do with our exhibits is to help visitors feel like they see themselves in the museum.”
3. I’ve heard that you enjoy knitting. Tell us how your interest in knitting has influenced or been influenced by your work on Quilts: Uncovering Women’s Stories.
“I love fiber art and I love textiles; so I think the fact that I’m a knitter and it’s something I have been doing for so long probably gave me a deeper appreciation of quilts already, and what they can mean – because I know what my knitting means to me. I know so many knitters who are accomplished artists, so there is a natural connection there. I think as I’ve been working on Quilts, it’s also deepened my appreciation of what I do as a knitter, too.”
5. If you were a city, what city would you be and why?
“I don’t know that I would be a city. I think I would be a small town. Not even a town, I think I would be an itty-bitty community on the fringes of somewhere. There is this little town out in the middle of nowhere in Alaska called Talkeetna. It’s basically one of the gateways to Denali National Park and it’s one of the places I’ve felt the most at home, so maybe I’d be Talkeetna.”
4. Finally, If you could have any piece of art in your home, what would it be?
“There’s this painting by a Spanish ex-pat who moved to Mexico named Remedios Varo. Really I’d have any of her paintings, but if I had to pick one of them, it’s a painting called The Creation of the Birds. It’s one of my favorite pieces of art in the world.”
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.