For this Frank Talk we sit down with Jenifer Papararo, the Executive Director of Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg. Previously she was the Curator at the Contemporary Art Gallery (CAG), Vancouver and the Program Director at Mercer Union, Toronto. She has curated many solo and group exhibitions, including Further Than I Can Throw A Stone, a group exhibition of film and video work featuring Jeremy Blake, John Bock, Cécile B. Evans, Erica Eyres, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Tristan Bera, Lisa Jackson, Karrabing Film Collective, John Knight, Kelly Mark, and Erika Vogt, and launched a city-wide poster campaign with Canadian artist Rodney Graham in Winnipeg. Most recently, she curated STAGES: Drawing the Curtain, a temporary public art exhibition of sculpture and performance, commissioning work by nine artists: Abbas Akhavan, Pablo Bronstein, Erica Eyres, Kara Hamilton, Federico Herrero, Toril Johannessen, Divya Mehra, Krista Belle Stewart and Ron Tran. In early 2017, she presented solo exhibitions with Angie Keefer and Fred Sandback at Plug In. She is also a founding member of Instant Coffee, whose work has been exhibited internationally and has recently published an e-catalogue with Western Front, Vancouver. Jenifer is one very busy art world professional and we could not wait to get her advice. Please enjoy!
What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
I don’t have a best piece of advice, but one thing I believe is be a good audience member. If you want people to engage with your ideas engage with theirs.
What is something you encounter often with employees that tests your patience?
A lack of openness where someone only works within the confines of their job description.
What has an employee done that happily surprised you?
When they see their colleague is over-burdened and offer to help. When they make things better than you expected.
What makes a person hirable?
Experience, either volunteer or paid. But key for me is that they have self-initiative. for example, mounting an event or project whether exhibition or publication on their own.
What is the most frowned upon trait for an employee?
Defensiveness and an inability to admit when they have made a mistake.
What are things a person can do to make them stand out in the workplace?
Know the organization deeply. Be enthusiastic about the organizations mandate and programs.
What are things you can do proactively to boost your CV?
Volunteer! Start your own initiative. Write reviews.
What does professional mean to you?
Know your job inside and out. Respect of others. Try to not ask someone to do work that you are not willing to do. And don’t over commit.