PaperCity Magazine

March 2020- Fort Worth

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Page 39 of 99

By BILLy FONG. POrtraIt LaureN WIthrOW. I t's the summer of 1998 in San Francisco. a teenage girl stands transfixed in front of a Keith haring video where the artist is spray-painting, graffiti style, on all conceivable surfaces (most of them illegal) around Manhattan. that girl is visiting the San Francisco Museum of Modern art with her parents to see an exhibition of the 1980s Pop artist's work. She came kicking and screaming. at 16, she is mortified to even be seen with her mom and dad. She has adopted the punk aesthetic that permeates counterculture el Paso, the city where she was born and her family still lives. this was the el Paso of the mid-'90s, the era that Beto O'rourke often refers to when recalling his rebellious 20s. She is wearing her standard outfit of well-worn Converse sneakers and a thrift-store t-shirt — on this occasion, emblazoned in glitter with the word "Bougie." and despite her well- cultivated ennui, the exhibit makes an indelible impression. On the way out, she picks up a book on haring, a red bag featuring one of his barking dogs (she will carry it for years), and a conviction that art is a life-changing force. that girl is alison hearst. Fast- forward to today, when she is the associate curator at the Modern art Museum of Fort Worth. after nearly 10 years at the Modern, she has brought a millennial's perspective to both the exhibition schedule and the permanent collection. and maybe a little of that punk sensibility, too. By the time she left el Paso for college, hearst knew that art would be her major, her career … her life, for that matter. She enrolled in the art history department at the university of North texas, Denton, and after receiving her bachelor's degree, went on to texas Christian university, where she earned a master's in art history. around 2008, hearst and a fellow tCu student, Leslie Murrell, began putting on provocative shows around Fort Worth under the moniker of Subtext. the idea was to create an engaging dialogue among regional artists, art historians, and writers. "We were really champing at the bit for the opportunity to curate exhibitions, and to work directly with artists," hearst recalls. "We also, selfishly, wanted to see more exhibition programming in Fort Worth, and we figured others wanted the same." One show, called "everything Must Go," explored the Great recession and was staged in a downtown storefront, with the two women acting as curators, Pr agents, registrars, and all else. their rebellious spirit was noticed by the Modern's Michael auping, the museum's esteemed chief curator, now retired, and andrea Karnes, the current senior curator. hearst soon came on board as an assistant to the director. today, as associate curator, hearst Meet aLISON hearSt: NONCONFOrMING CuratOr tODay, the MODerN'S COLLeCtION aND exhIBItIONS are a LIttLe reBeLLIOuS — aND a BIt PuNK — thaNKS tO the PrOvOCatIve eye OF a thOuGhtFuL revOLutIONary. (continued on page 40)

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