soft. core. – a Duo Female Curating Initiative
Written by Lara Salmon
When you meet the women of soft. core., a duo-curatorial project based in Los Angeles, it is clear why they chose to work together. Megan St. Clair and Alexis Hyde tend to finish each other’s thoughts, listen well, and laugh a lot. They are excited about the artists they work with, and consider what they do as curators a form of art itself. Megan, who is the founder of soft. core., attended art school and has a Master in Fine Arts from Claremont Graduate University. She has a history in interior design, which is reflected in the clean aesthetic of soft. core., and its polished website. Alexis, who is not an artist, has worked in the arts for a long time. Her creative energy goes into gardening, which she says is the only thing she might rather be doing on a Saturday morning than installing a soft. core. show.
Megan and Alexis met through the Museum of Broken Relationships on Hollywood Boulevard, which is now closed. Alexis was the director of the museum, and Megan got a job. It was actually on the sidewalk in front of the museum where Megan witnessed an event that prompted her to start curating. A man on the street was clearly very unwell, perhaps close to having a heart attack. An ambulance came, but he refused to get in, stumbling away instead. Megan says in that moment she was overcome with sorrow for this fellow whose destiny she could not know or control. His decision to not accept help had shown her something about the fragility of life, and this cemented a feeling of now-or-never. One month later she rented a space in the arts district to put on the first soft. core. curated show.
Shortly after, Alexis joined Megan as a partner. They will, jokingly, tell you that Megan invited her on because Alexis was in a slump. Their mission is to exhibit emerging and mid-career artists in pop-up events. To date they have put on seven shows at gallery or commercial spaces around LA. The two women say they run in different circles, thus soft. core. has become a way to cross pollinate and network. While the first show asked for submissions from artists, subsequent ones have not used this method. The women describe their usual process as such: Megan sends Alexis Instagram images of work and artists she likes daily, filling her head with imagery. Alexis semi-subconsciously puts these pieces together to develop themes or concepts that could hold a show. Once a general idea for the show is in place, they each come in with artists that would fit, and through back and forth discussion narrow it down to a final group. They describe soft. core. as the balance between their tastes—Megan who is more interested in the hand-based aesthetics of illustration and embroidery verses Alexis’s taste for minimalist, light and space-oriented work.
Both Alexis and Megan work full time managing studios for pop-sensational male artists. They speak begrudgingly about the reality of who makes money in the art world today, but also choose not to let it get them down. If they did, they would have to quit. Instead, they are happy to have the ability to curate their own shows and excited about the artists they choose to work with. The only thing that bothers them about the Art World is when they see people get recognition who don’t deserve it. And their antidote—to continue showing the artists they admire and believe in. The future dream of soft. core. is to start a residency program in LA or in the desert. If the women find the budget one day, they will be looking in this direction to give their artists a space and the time necessary to create.