It was an amazing experience—being able to help build the collection, install it and shape how people in Arkansas, many of whom hadn’t experienced a big museum, were going to experience a narrative of American art that went from the 18th century through contemporary.
But I sensed the focus of Crystal Bridges was changing to being much more contemporary exhibition projects. The museum feels that it has a Bilbao Effect. But I was getting a sense that in order to maintain that Bilbao Effect, it was going to be contemporary art that was going to do it.
I wasn’t going to be able to do an 18th-century exhibition, because that would have been too boring. I think the management of Crystal Bridges felt, “Who would come and see that?” It had to be Rockwell—some big, light show.
"There are countless forms of narrative in the world," wrote French literary theorist Roland Barthes in An Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative. “Among the vehicles of narrative are articulated language, … pictures, still or moving, gestures, and an ordered mixture of all those substances; narrative is present in myth, legend, fables, tales, short stories, epics, history, tragedy, … comedy, pantomime, paintings, … stained-glass windows, movies, local news, conversation. Moreover, in this infinite variety of forms, it is present at all times, in all places, in all societies; indeed narrative starts with the very history of mankind; there is not, there has never been anywhere, any people without narrative…"