The art of curiosity The art of curiosity The art of curiosity

As she curates an exhibit at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, doctoral student Brittney Frantece examines art through a critical lens.

By Jamie Swenson | Photo by Tara Brown | December 2021

You might find English Ph.D. candidate Brittney Frantece critically examining a Toni Morrison novel, creating linoleum carvings, teaching undergraduates about nontraditional writing techniques or curating artwork. When she takes on a project, she asks: “How is this work—or how can I be—curious about alternative ways of being and knowing? And how can this alternative life be sustained in another world?”

These are the questions Frantece asked as she curated “Queer Imagination,” a recent exhibition at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery. With philanthropic support for her role, Frantece selected art—including works by UW artists and scholars—that sought to distort realities and create new worlds.

The gallery, affectionately known as “the Jake,” is named for preeminent 20th-century American artist and former UW faculty member Jacob Lawrence. It’s been devoted to education, social justice and experimentation since it was established in 1994. And it will soon have a more prominent new home in the Art Building.

Through a mix of UW and philanthropic funding, the University plans to renovate the nearly 70-year-old Art and Music buildings, creating more modern spaces for collaboration and creative expression—and, by updating spaces like the Brechemin Auditorium and the Jake, for sharing art with others. Much like a work of art, the renovation will not only ask what could be; for the UW community, it will bring the answers to life.