Workspace: Ben Thompson, curator, Museum of Contemporary Art
Ben Thompson, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, spends quite a bit of time in his office planning future exhibits. But this week, he has spent his days in the gallery spaces, supervising the installation of “ReFocus: Art of the 1980s.”
The exhibit opens to the public at 11 a.m. Saturday after a members-only preview 7-9 p.m. Friday.
It is the third in a three-part series presented by MOCA that showcased the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, which Thompson said were three of the most pivotal decades in contemporary art.
The exhibit includes paintings, photographs, prints and sculptures by some of the most influential – and controversial – artists of the period, Thompson said.
“They were really pushing the boundaries of conventionally accepted social norms,” he said.
It was also a decade when the business side of art changed. Thompson said with the booming economy of the 1980s, collectors and investors spent a lot of money to acquire art, which made many popular artists of the period wealthy.
That aspect of the period is symbolized by an Andy Warhol print depicting dollar signs that is at the entrance to the exhibit.
Thompson, who joined MOCA in 2007 as the museum’s registrar and became curator in 2010, said the goal of the three exhibits is education.
“We want to help the viewer understand the concepts that are at the core of MOCA’s mission,” he said.
Next on the schedule after “ReFocus: Art of the 1980s” will be exhibits of works by living artists who are still working.
Thompson described the theme as “the art of our time.”
“We hope the ‘ReFocus’ series helped prepare people to enjoy that work,” he said.
For details about the exhibit and related educational programs, visit mocajacksonville.org.