Art Baby Gallery opens all-inclusive art show in Europe

Founder Grace Miceli launched an online open call inclusive to anyone who wanted to see their work shown on a museum wall – here she talks to us ahead of its launch

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Art Baby Gallery x MAMA, Wallpaper, April 2017
Athena Gronti & Daphné Psarros, “Pray to mother Vulva”, as submitted for Wallpaper, 22.04 – 18.06Courtesy the artist and MAMA, Rotterdam

New York artist and curator Grace Miceli (founder of Art Baby Gallery) is poised to open her latest exhibition at Showroom MAMA, Rotterdam – collaborating with the museum’s curator Marloes de Vries. In the lead up to the constantly-evolving show, Miceli asked artists to respond to an open call to create wallpapers that would be included in the show, aptly titled Wallpaper. Opening today, the public is invited to select their favourite wallpaper and wheatpaste them to the museum’s walls, with an online rendition living on Art Baby Gallery’s website for anyone who can’t be there in person. In Miceli’s signature style, Wallpaper riffs on ideas of the internet – where Art Baby Gallery was first launched – and brings it into the real world to stake a physical claim within the art world.

Below, we catch up with Miceli as she opens Wallpaper.

Where did the idea for Wallpaper come from?

Grace Miceli: Marloes de Vries, who is the curator of Showroom MAMA, contacted me over a year ago with an interest in collaborating with Art Baby Gallery and the concept of the exhibition was conceived by her. I think she understood that the ethos and community surrounding Art Baby Gallery would lend itself perfectly to an exhibition that existed online and also in a physical space with public participation. As Art Baby Gallery has evolved over the years I’m always looking for opportunities that help to evolve the project so I’m really excited for Wallpaper. 

What made you want to work with wallpaper and what’s its significance in relation to the themes your exploring?

Grace Miceli: It’s a reference to computer desktop wallpaper and also plastering your bedroom walls with posters of your favourite things. By allowing visitors to paste up the images they print anywhere (on top of other art, on any wall, on the ceiling) it allows for so much engagement from the viewer as they are deciding what goes on the walls, it’s an important dynamic to me. Marloes was also inspired by friends who installed wheat paste advertisements and embracing that constant flux of imagery.

“We wanted to make it clear that we want your art” – Grace Miceli

What was behind the decision to open the submissions process up to the public? And what has the response been?

Grace Miceli: Art Baby Gallery has always been submission based but I sometimes do worry that maybe younger or inexperienced (in a traditional sense) artists might lack the confidence to reach out on their own so with this project we wanted to make it clear that we want your art. It’s great for me to get a chance to exhibit work by artists I am not yet aware of, and we’ve been really impressed by all of the work we’ve received so far. It’s also important to me that all of the artists whose work is chosen to be printed/hung by the public will be monetarily compensated. 

You invite the public to physically participate in the show itself. What was behind your decision to do this and what do you think it brings?

Grace Miceli: Many gallery or exhibition spaces can feel cold and unwelcoming and almost often purposefully so. There is often a lot of mystery or disconnect as to why certain works might be hanging on the walls and whose decision that was, so this was a way for us to allow the audience to have fun and be in charge of the space. 

Over the past few years, your work has transitioned more from online into IRL. The press release for the show touches on the question of ‘how’ to do this. Can you tell us about your own process of moving from an online artist into a ‘real’ world one, and the importance of doing so?

Grace Miceli: I think I’ve always considered myself a “real” world artist but the internet was the only space I had access too. Slowly over the past few years I’ve used that online space to establish myself and convince people to let me explore how Art Baby Gallery can and should function in physical spaces as well.

What is it that personally inspires you so much about the internet and its online realms?

Grace Miceli: Growing up the internet was a (relatively) new tool and I saw it as a bridge between where I was and where I wanted to be. Whether that meant looking at pictures of places I wanted to go, things I wanted to buy, people I wanted to meet, information I wanted to learn etc. The internet is a place where you can transform your aspirations into realities and just figure out who you are and I continue to be inspired by how I’ve been able to utilise it to manifest my current reality. 

What do you hope people take away from Wallpaper?

Grace Miceli: The excitement I experience whenever I curate, by being able to create new conversations between works of art as well as the confidence in knowing that anyone, despite your background or education, can show their work in a gallery.

What’s next?

Grace Miceli: I’m in Tokyo next month working on a mural and a pop-up exhibition and I’ve got some fun animation projects in the works as well.

Wallpaper, curated by Grace Miceli and Marloes de Vries, runs 21 April – 18 June 2017

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