Guggenheim Internship Leads Aric Reviere '15 to Middle Eastern Art World

Belk Scholar Aric Reviere '15 came to Davidson for the humanities program and will leave with the education and experience necessary to work in the art world.

Reviere decided to major in art history after a humanities lecture from Professor of Art History Larry Ligo. "He spoke about the invention of one point perspective through Masaccio's Holy Trinity and related it to one of Pico's essays on the centrality of man, and in that moment I recognized the interdisciplinary aspect that I loved about humanities in art history," he explained. Davidson's strong Arab studies program also attracted Reviere and led him to spend the summer of 2012 studying Arabic at the Qasid Institute in Jordan.

Reviere's interests merged last summer in a curatorial internship that has turned into the opportunity to help organize a major international art fair in Dubai during the fall semester.

Last summer Reviere worked at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City as an assistant to Reem Fadda, the associate curator of Middle Eastern art. He spent 10 weeks researching and writing about contemporary Middle Eastern artists for upcoming exhibitions at the museum in New York, and for the permanent collection at a new Guggenheim that will open in Abu Dhabi in 2017.

He said, "I was drawn to the internship because there is huge shift in contemporary art to become more globalized. Middle Eastern spaces are going to be the next cultural capitals of the world, and they'll no longer perpetuate a western narrative of our history, but will create new narratives."

Reviere felt well equipped and even fast-tracked into the position because he was able to research sources written in Arabic and write well. "Writing papers in humanities and art history courses helped me to create art historical arguments at a high enough caliber for the Guggenheim to publish," he said.

The internship provided him with an insider's perspective on the New York art world through visits to galleries, guided tours, and conversations with exhibition designers. On his final day, Reviere and Fadda visited the studio of contemporary Iranian artist Nicki Nodjoumi. "I had the opportunity to not only view stacks of his works, which are these fantastic pieces referencing political power, but also interact with him and experience the artist's workspace," he said.

The Guggenheim internship reassured Reviere that the art world is alive and engaging. "I think a lot of people have preconceived notions that there are limited career options for an art history major," he said. "But working for a museum that's creating a new narrative was truly powerful, and has opened many doors that I had never anticipated."

The connections that he made during the internship have led him to a position as exhibition relations assistant for "Art Dubai," a five-day international fair in Dubai which attracts collectors, corporations, and regional visitors to view artwork from around the world. According to Reviere, roughly 500 galleries apply to present their artists at the five-day fair, but only 70 are accepted.

His responsibilities will include writing the exhibition catalog and hosting an entire section of galleries from Central Asia. He said, "It's going to be fascinating and rewarding to present a series of galleries I helped orchestrate."

Reviere sees the potential for the Middle East and other developing regions to become powerful cultural producers. "In many ways, the art begs questions that are relevant across all nationalities. I'm excited to question these works in a globalized sense and see how the art can speak to aesthetics regardless of origin," he said.

In order to work for Art Dubai, Reviere plans to take leave this fall and work until the fair occurs in March, resulting in overlap between his position and his spring abroad program in Dubai.

Reviere's experiences and new connections will facilitate his plans to work in the corporate art world after graduation. Although he hasn't worked directly with a corporate collection, he sees a lot of untapped potential in that field. "Many corporations collect art to build capital, but in reality those collections could be shared and used as an educational tool similar to how a museum functions," he said.