January 2011 - AS-AP Presents "Oral Histories and the Archive," a panel discussion to be held at the College Art Association's 99th Annual Conference


“Oral Histories and the Archive”

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Art Spaces Archives Project (AS-AP) announces a panel discussion entitled “Oral Histories and the Archive,”to be held at the College Art Association’s 99th Annual Conference on Wed. February 9th, 2011, from 12:30-2:00 p.m. at the Hilton New York, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY in the Gibson Room, 2nd Floor.

Over the past seven years Art Spaces Archives Project (AS-AP) has presented panels at the annual College Art Association Conference that have addressed contemporary art related archives by investigating institutional models and identities, institutional holdings, and the organizational histories of living and defunct alternative arts spaces. Transcripts of each of the panels can be accessed from the Resources section of the site,

As part of its mission to document the history of alternative art spaces, AS-AP has been commissioning the production of oral history interviews with the founders, former and current directors, and curators of significant alternative art spaces throughout the United States:  Oral and video history interviews have been used as key research and documentation tools within art history and its related disciplines as a means of capturing first-person accounts of specific events, individuals, institutions and organizations. Through a first-person narrative, oral and video histories in many ways complement, expand, challenge and periodically contradict historical narratives found within archives. 

This year’s panel will investigate oral history initiatives, programs, and methodologies from the perspectives of the art museum, the artist's estate, and the curator.  Each panelist will provide an overview of the ways they have created, commissioned, or used oral histories, and the relationship between oral histories as an archival resource, a documentation tool, and a cultural and historical record.  Panelists include Michelle Elligott, Museum Archivist at MoMA; Sandra Q. Firmin, Curator, University at Buffalo Art Galleries; and Pamela Sharp, Artist/ Oral Historian and the Executive Director of the Estate of Willoughby Sharp.  The panel will be moderated by Ann Butler, Project Director of AS-AP, and Director of the Library and Archives at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.

About the Panelists

Michelle Elligott  In addition to directing the MoMA Archives, Michelle Elligott also co-edited the Museum's first self-published history: Art in Our Time.  She also served as co-curator of the MoMA exhibitions, 1969 and Abstract Expressionist New York. With her "Modern Artifacts" column, she is a regular contributor to the art magazine Esopus.  She has taught seminars in Latin America and has lectured widely. In 2005 she was designated a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Athens, Greece. Prior to joining MoMA, Michelle Elligott was Assistant Director at the C. Grimaldis Gallery in Baltimore, Maryland.  She holds degrees in Art History from Smith College and the City University of New York, and she also studied at the Université de Paris IV, Sorbonne and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece.

Sandra Q. Firmin has been curator of the UB Art Gallery, Center for the Arts since 2003. She holds an MA from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (2002) and was awarded a Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative Fellowship at Arcadia University Art Gallery (2003).  She co-curated Kim Jones: A Retrospective with Julie Joyce.  The exhibition was accompanied by the catalog Mudman: The Odyssey of Kim Jones, co-edited with Julie Joyce and published by MIT Press (2006).  Firmin recently organized Artpark: 1974–1984, which chronicles the seminal years of this innovative residency program located in Lewiston, New York, just north of Niagara Falls, in which artists spent summers creating temporary artworks outdoors. In addition to the exhibition catalog, Artpark: 1974-1984, which was co-published by Princeton Architectural Press (2010), Sandra Firmin has published contributions to exhibition catalogues for Max Protetch (New York, 2008) and the Wharf, Centre d'art contemporain de Basse-Normandie (2007).

Pamela Sharp is an artist, oral historian, and Executive Director of the Estate of Willoughby Sharp. Since 1983 she has been a print production manager of museum-quality art and photography books. While on staff at MoMA, she worked with John Szarkowski and Richard Benson on Photography Until Now. In 2003, while she was Director of Catalogue Production at Phillips de Pury and Company, Pamela was introduced to Willoughby Sharp. In 2005, Pamela and Willoughby travelled to Europe to give presentations of his work.  In residence in Berlin in 2006, with a grant from DAAD, Pamela shot a 24-hour video history of Willoughby Sharp. In 2007, she collaborated with Willoughby on his exhibition, REAPPEARANCE at the Mitchell Algus Gallery.  That same year, with DeWitt Godfrey, she co-curated a small retrospective of Willoughby’s work at the Clifford Gallery, Colgate University.  Willoughby Sharp passed away in December 2008 after a long battle with throat cancer. Pamela organized his Memorial at The Guggenheim Museum in November 2009.  In 2010, she co-produced with Duff Schweninger a 38-minute documentary on The Live Injection Point at the Franklin Street Art Center as part of the exhibition, Alternative Histories at Exit Art. Pamela is currently working on a comprehensive chronology of Willoughby Sharp's career beginning in 1957.

Ann Butler is the Director of the Library and Archives at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and the Project Director for Arts Spaces Archives Project (  Prior to joining CCS Bard she was Senior Archivist at the Fales Library and Special Collections at New York University. Before joining Fales, she was the Archivist for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.  She has participated in a number of international initiatives focusing on the preservation of cultural heritage materials within archives and museum domains and she has lectured widely on contemporary art related archives. Her research interests include documentation practices and preservation issues for performance, technology, and installation-based works, and the increasing convergence of archives and museum collection management practices for contemporary art-related collections.   She holds degrees from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, The New School, and Rutgers University.

About Art Spaces Archives Project

Art Spaces Archives Project (AS-AP) is a non-profit initiative founded by a consortium of arts organizations, including Bomb Magazine, College Art Association, Franklin Furnace Archive, New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), New York State Artist Workspace Consortium, and The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. With funding provided by NYSCA, The National Endowment for the Arts, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, AS-AP has a mandate to help preserve, present, and protect the archival heritage of living and defunct for- and not-for-profit spaces of the "alternative" or "avant-garde" movements of the 1950s to the present.  AS-AP's website,, serves as an online portal for information and documentation about the history of alternative art spaces including a national index of active and defunct spaces, as well as information about archives, tools to assist in archiving, and other resources for scholars and researchers interested in alternative and avant-garde movements.

About the Center for Curatorial Studies

In January 2007 AS-AP merged with the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard. CCS Bard is an exhibition, education, and research center dedicated to the study of art and curatorial practices from the 1960s to the present day. In addition to the CCS Bard Galleries and the Hessel Museum of Art, CCS Bard houses the Marieluise Hessel Collection of more than 2,000 contemporary works, as well as an extensive library and archive that are accessible to the general public. The Center’s two-year graduate program in curatorial studies is specifically designed to deepen students’ understanding of the intellectual and practical tasks of curating contemporary art. Exhibitions are presented year-round in the CCS Bard Galleries and Hessel Museum of Art, providing students with the opportunity to work with world-renowned artists and curators. The exhibition program and the collection also serve as the basis for a wide-range of public programs and activities exploring art and its role in contemporary society.

For more information please call CCS Bard at 845-758-7566, write or visit