COOP Member, Rob Matthews’, Interview with the curator of “King Tide”, Daniel Fuller

The exhibition is partially inspired by a dream or a vision. Artists can relate to working in such methods. We are educated in exercises of investigating the unknowable and also not seeking a concrete resolution. Can you explain how that works for a curator? To organize yet also not fully state an intent, leaving it open-ended for the audience? Managing that and still keeping it cohesive?

Meaning is never, or very seldom, fully up to the artist or the curator. I could see the work as being wholly explicit, yet some audience members might disagree. That’s cool. I like the unknown. Artists frequently lead us into the unfamiliar and the mysterious places. We follow their dreams; the issues that excite and scare them. The artists in this show share little in common other than maintaining their studios at Atlanta Contemporary, and yet, I noticed this reoccurring theme. For myself, I think living in a landlocked city has me thinking about water more than when I was able to breathe salty sea air every day. It makes you cherish what seems so far away.


The show is called King Tide. It opens on July 1st.

King tides are at their most reduced when the sun is furthest from the Earth. That occurs on July 2nd. Any correlation?

This exhibition is about how July 2nd, as well as all marks on the calendar, are now completely unpredictable. Weather is no longer a given. What we have come to expect over generations is no longer the case. Summer time in Atlanta can be brutal, the humidity unbearable, and there is little relief. No coast, no large lake, a horrendously contaminated river… while we wish no harm on our neighbors to the east, King Tide is a dream of borders shifting, maps changing… Atlanta being an oceanfront destination.


Kelly Kristen Jones most directly addresses that shifting nature of Atlanta in her photography by arguing for a fuller picture of the city’s history to be addressed beyond traditional roadside historical markers. As with any city, Atlanta demolishes and builds a newer, ‘better’ version of itself at the expense of history. Conversely, Tyler Beard’s work attempts to manufacture a “soothing formalism,” usually framing images of nature within manmade geometric structures. Compared to Jones digging through the strata to rediscover what was lost, Beard appears to seek a harmonious interaction with nature, devoid of history.

Can harmony and history coexist in beachfront Atlanta or will it be post-historical?

We adapt. We adjust and grow into new circumstances. Cities like Atlanta and Nashville grow daily. Cranes have become permanent fixtures of our skylines. Added populations strain resources and shift traffic patterns and overcrowd schools, and yet we adjust. We find new harmonies. Build new histories.


Jane Foley and Jamie Bull both extract elements from the world around them, reshape them and reinsert them again in the public sphere- either to unsuspecting people walking down the street or a gaggle of geese. What balance do you, as a curator, try to strike between pushing art directly out into the public versus inviting the public into a more controlled gallery environment? Is it more intuitive or intentional?

I love pushing art directly into the public, but in this case Jane’s piece requires electricity and Jamie’s soft sculptures would get soggy if it were to rain. It is always good to get art out of the white cube and bring it directly to the people, but as a curator I go where the art takes me. In this case, the artists and their art are best served by being in a well-lit space.


Are there any upcoming projects you can tell us about? 

We have a great fall line-up coming up at Atlanta Contemporary. Detroit-based Matthew Angelo Harrison who makes homemade 3D printers and a 3D scanner to print replicas of African masks. We are super excited to welcome home Columbus, GA born Anna Betbeze with an exhibition of her stunning wool works. We also have an incredible trio of solo exhibitions coming up in our Video space with Agnieszka Polska, Andrea Crespo, Mohamed Bourouissa showing one work for one month. Always busy.