Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Exhibiting Your Work: Framing

The Kiernan Gallery’s exhibitions are each based on a different theme. The varying interpretations of each theme make for an interesting show, but can be problematic in a small gallery. When you factor in different print sizes and framing options, the consistency of the show can start to fall apart. Since our exhibitions are comprised of the work of many different artists, we have framing requirements to make sure the show will be visually cohesive. While these guidelines are provided to the selected artists, I still receive emails asking for leniency or clarification fairly regularly. Because of this, I thought I would take the opportunity to explain what the framing requirements really mean, and why they’re in place. 

-       Ready to Hang:
“Ready to hang” means there must be a wire on the back of the frame. A hook for a nail or a wide lipped frame that could be hung on a nail is not the same thing. At The Kiernan Gallery, it is very important that there is a wire provided, because we use a suspension system rather than nails in the wall. The suspension system consists of tracks along the walls with clear wire and hooks. These hooks are specifically designed to be used with wired frames, thus a picture is not physically able to hang in the gallery without a wire attached.
-       No Colored Mats or Frames:
This means black or white frames and black or white mats only (grey and cream mats are not acceptable). While natural wood frames are not exactly a “color”, they stick out as the only non-black or white frame in the show. This is why it is important that the framing is restricted to black or white. Hanging a show should depend on the image, the flow of the room, and the size of the work. Color of frames and/or mats should not be a factor in assembling the show.
-       Black Frame vs. White Frame:
White frames have had a recent surge in popularity, particularly with color images. For images with cool or muted tones, I think white frames are a great option. They remove the “black border” effect often used in silver gelatin printing, and rarely used in color photography. They also bring more attention to the image. However, I do not think that white frames are the best option for black and white prints. For the most part they should be left to color images, in my opinion.
-       Metal Frame vs. Wood Frame:
As a photographer, I do not have a preference for either wood or metal frames. As a gallerist concerned with esthetics, I do not have a preference either. But as a gallerist who hates to tell her artists that their work has been damaged, I much prefer metal frames. Metal frames will not crack or chip in shipping and will not split if the wire is screwed in too tightly. If something happens to the photograph (such as an image slipping in its frame), I am able to open it up and address the problem. They also tend to be lighter and thus less expensive to ship.
-       Feet Are Neat!
Most professional framers will attach small pieces of rubber or felt to the back corners of the frame. These “feet” keep the frame from scratching the wall and prevent the piece from sliding around on the hook. If you are not using a professional framer, you can purchase these “feet” from any hardware or craft store. We keep some on hand at the gallery for any pieces that did not come with them, but it is preferable to have work shipped with them in place.

1 comment:

  1. Very good and informative post. I've shown in enough galleries to be
    familiar with the black frame/white mat limitation that most galleries
    prefer. It really does help make the entire show more cohesive and 'of
    a piece', especially in a multiple artist environment. I'm certain
    that those less familiar with these concerns will benefit from
    understanding the factors that lead to the gallery's preferences here.
    The 'feet' are a new one to me, however. This is a great idea. I am
    constantly 'releveling' the framed prints that I rotate in my seasonal
    livingroom displays. I'm going to try this out as a fix!

    Jim Sabiston, Exhibitor - ISpy: Camera Phone Photography Show