Alumnus shares his curatorial career during presentation, trip to Chicago

Amy Sandquist

Alumnus Dan Leers ’02, who currently works as the Beaumont and Nancy Newhall Curatorial Fellow in the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, visited Lawrence Oct. 1 to talk about his experiences in museum work. His trip was sponsored by the Lawrence Photo Club and by the Office of Alumni and Constituency Engagement.
In his talk, “From Lawrence to the New York Art World,” Leers presented a humorous but informative slideshow that explored everything from his experiences in the studio art and art history departments at Lawrence to his current position at the MoMA.
During his presentation, Leers spoke highly of the opportunities offered at Lawrence. “There’s no better place to try new things,” he said, referring to his numerous artistic endeavors as an undergraduate. Leers prompted students to make the most of their time at Lawrence. “Experiment and try everything,” he urged.
The next day, Saturday, Oct. 2, studio art and art history students and faculty members traveled to the Art Institute in Chicago to tour the photography exhibition, “Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century.” Leers helped curate the exhibition and traveled to Chicago for its deinstallation.
While students and faculty wove their way through the exhibition, Leers informally led the group, offering historical details about the works displayed and information about the process of organizing the photographs into a cohesive exhibit.
Before this weekend, however, Leers’ visit required extensive planning. Assistant Professors of Art Julie Lindemann and John Shimon first began discussing the idea of Leers, their former student, speaking at Lawrence after visiting him at the MoMA last spring.
“We started talking with Kaitlyn Herzog, Photo Club president, about the possibility of bringing Dan to campus fall term,” explained Lindemann and Shimon.
Herzog, who is spending fall term in Chicago, said, “Photo Club was kind of going through a renovation period at the end of last year, and Cindy Yetman, the club’s acting president, and I agreed that this event would be a great way to kick start a fun term in the fall.”
Herzog described Leers’ visit and the Chicago trip as a great opportunity to network with a successful alumnus and to experience the works of a renowned photographer in a world-class museum setting.
“Henri Cartier-Bresson is an extremely essential photographer to be aware of,” she said, noting that the Cartier-Bresson exhibit that Leers worked on was “expected to be brilliant.”
After Photo Club organized the event, the Office of Alumni and Constituency Engagement seized the opportunity to invite alumni to participate in the event on Oct. 2.
Mark Breseman, associate vice president of alumni and constituency engagement, commented, “It was really a win-win for us to have the opportunity.”
The Office of Alumni and Constituency Engagement holds events for Lawrence alumni around the country and attempts to hold at least two events annually for alumni in Midwestern cities. This opportunity in Chicago was particularly valuable, since alumni and current students were able to socialize with each other over lunch.
“In general,” Breseman explained, “our office really appreciates when current students interact with alumni.”
After Leers toured his exhibition with students in the morning and lunched with students, faculty, and alumni, he spent two additional hours with alumni, answering questions about Cartier-Bresson and his job at the MoMA.

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