Photo by Joel Plotkin
John Shipman is exactly where he wants to be, even if it took a nearly 10-year hiatus from the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts to make it happen.
“When I was here from 2000 to 2006 in the exhibitions department, I installed shows and helped with some of the curator’s duties,” Shipman says. “But I had to leave and get more experience elsewhere, primarily in academia, so that I could come back and lead the DCCA with a proper understanding of the full potential of this center.”
After nine years as director of the University of Maryland’s College Park Art Gallery, Shipman returns to a different climate in Delaware. Having replaced former director Maxine Gaiber, who left the DCCA in 2014 for the Gershman Y in Philadelphia, Shipman wants to steer away from the standard “white cube model,” as he refers to traditional museums, to emphasize more technology.
“Is the white cube a viable option for museums and arts centers anymore, especially considering that everyone has access to visual art and entertainment in their hands at all times?” Shipman wonders. “We need to understand, as an arts community, that there is more than one way to absorb culture.
“My driving force here is to find exciting, innovative, new ways to not just have fantastic exhibitions and educational programs, but find the new models that touch people the way they want to be impacted in the understanding of creative practice.”
Shipman and his staff are exploring the intersection of technology, art and design, and have incorporated a technological aspect to the DCCA, one in which artists that use technology in creative ways can be featured in its exhibits.