Throughout "Exploring the Installations" and its subsections, images of Juan Logan and Susan Harbage Page's art installation is accompanied by the 2009 exhibit wall text written by Laurel Fredrickson (indicated in italics).
Artists Susan Harbage Page and Juan Logan designed Prop Master for the Gibbes Museum of Art and specifically for its Main Gallery. Their installation juxtaposes materials from the museum’s permanent collection and archives with works of the artists’ creation. In its totality, Prop Master constitutes what Logan and Page call “a disruption from within.” As the person who acquires and manufactures props for theatrical and film productions, the prop master is responsible for all aspects of their use on a set. Prop Master compares the prop master and the museum and a production and an exhibition to explore how the elements of an art collection are social props and the art museum a prop master. The installation investigates the role of the institution of the museum as prop master and prop with regard to Charleston’s social relations.
Established as the Carolina Art Association in 1858, a gift from merchant James Shoolbred Gibbes funded construction of the Museum’s Beaux Arts Style building, which opened to the public in April 1905. The Gibbes houses a collection of 10,000 works, principally American portraits, landscapes, still-lives, and miniature portraits with a Charleston or Southern connection. As a society’s self-portrait, displaying its aspirations and decorative schemes, such a collection is defined as much by what it excludes or treats as background as by what it includes. An art museum like the Gibbes is analogous to a prop master in how it collects and exhibits art. In so doing, it may support or challenge prevailing racial, gender, and class relations – Prop Master is an example of a challenge.
Susan Harbage Page and Juan Logan live in Chapel Hill, where they teach at the University of North Carolina. Each has an extensive individual career as an artist, but they share a long-term interest in using art to explore the intersections of race, class, gender, place, and power.