In 1902 an aspiring young poet Franz Kappus wrote a series of letters to the writer Rainer Maria Rilke asking for advice and help with his poetry. However, instead of critiquing the young man's poetry, Rilke responded through a series of letters that offered more existential sustenance than any technical advice. Counseling Kappus on the moral and philosophical dilemmas of being an artist, the letters dealt with Rilke's reflection on topics such as faith, loneliness and self-doubt. The letters gave no career advice on the field of writing, rather it was a summation of Rilke's vision, far and wide. When reading Rilke's letters, one gets the sense that the exchange was as restorative for Rilke as it was nourishing for Kappus. It was a chance for Rilke to be heard and understood outside the bounds of his poetry.
Similarly, though separated by a century and different fields, it occurred to me while I was corresponding with a curator, that conversations between current art curators and the next generation of young art enthusiasts would broaden the dialogue in the art industry, allowing future young professionals to understand the motives and choices that directed those who came before. Like Letters to a Young Poet, this site was created to document these conversations and offer other young aspiring curators, art historians, and educators, advice, encouragement, and insight.
Given the current cultural climate in the US, a passive appreciation for art is no longer reason enough to justify public expenditure or education, future curators must be conscientious and intentional of the role they wish to play and the direction they want to take the field.
"Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day."