BBP Vice President Kelly Peck Interviews Sarah Vargas, Curator, Fresno Art Museum, About A Queen Within

BBP Vice President Kelly Peck Interviews Sarah Vargas, Curator, Fresno Art Museum, About A Queen Within

Fresno Art Museum is pleased to host A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, opening to the public on July 30, 2022. Curated and designed by MUSEEA, A Queen Within is a large-scale exhibition produced and toured internationally by Barrett Barrera Projects. BBP Vice President Kelly Peck recently spoke with Sarah Vargas, the museum’s curator, about the upcoming installation:

KP: It’s hard to believe, but we began discussing A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes traveling to Fresno Art Museum (FAM) in May of 2019. Is there something about the exhibition in particular that makes it compelling for FAM and its audiences?

SV: I can’t believe that we have been discussing this exhibition for more than two years! We had been considering bringing a fashion exhibition to the museum for some time now. I had come across A Queen Within during my research and thought it was an incredibly powerful presentation. Fashion speaks across generations and cultures. It is a wonderful opportunity to examine the many forms fine art can take. The issues and themes explored in the exhibition have real relevance to our community. And it is beautiful to look at!

KP: Is this the first contemporary fashion exhibition you’ve brought to Fresno Art Museum? If so, why now?

SV: As far as I know, yes, it is the first contemporary fashion exhibition at the Fresno Art Museum. In fact, I believe it is the first fashion exhibition of any type at the museum. The history of exhibitions at FAM is deeply rooted in what might be considered the more traditional forms of fine art: painting, printmaking, sculpture, and the like. I think it’s really only been in the last decade that fashion has come to be embraced as another form of fine art, influenced by the amazing exhibitions mounted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and their Costume Institute. As I mentioned, it is something we had been considering for a while, but we had to find the right fashion exhibition for us. When FAM was invited by The McClatchy Fresno Arts Endowment of The James B. McClatchy Foundation to participate in a multi-agency project to present major art exhibitions in Fresno that embody “The Power of Culture,” we knew it was the perfect opportunity for us to bring A Queen Within to the Museum.

KP: A Queen Within explores seven feminine archetypes which are articulated through over 120 fashion, film, and photography objects. The objects address a range of issues from body positivity, gender nonconformity, environmentalism, social justice, and more. Is there an object or theme in the exhibition that is particularly exciting to you?

SV: All of the themes are so relevant, but I am really drawn to the message of body positivity. It has become such a hot topic culturally, and I feel that it is so important. From childhood, we struggle with acceptance of what we look like and how we fit in. Our bodies are amazing things and should be celebrated, no matter the size, shape, or degree of ableness.

I also love the way the exhibition is divided into the archetypes. I think they send such a powerful message about the endless possibilities of the power of women.

KP: At Barrett Barrera Projects, we are currently working on a series title “What Would You Wear?” in which we ask our staff members to select a fashion object from our archive that they would wear if they could. Do you have a fashion object from the exhibition that you would wear given the opportunity?

SV: Absolutely! In fact, I’m not sure I can pick just one. There are so many pieces I would love to wear, but if I had to narrow it down, I’d say my top picks are the Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen Pink and Purple jacquard and feather floral dress or the Gucci Gold dress with feather embellishments. Apparently, I am very drawn to the garments with feathers.

Photo Credit Sarah Carmody (left) and Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL Consulting (right)


KP: Are there any local designers that you may consider including in the exhibition?

SV: We are still in the planning stages for a lot of our programming, but we hope to work with some of the many fashion design programs nearby, as well as local designers, but nothing is arranged as of yet.


KP: Can you tell us about any of the opening events or programs that may be in the works?

SV: We will be having an opening reception for the exhibition on the evening of Friday, July 29, 2022. The exhibition will open to the public on Saturday, July 30. We have some fun programs in development for the run of the exhibition, so keep watch!

KP: Through the pandemic, we’ve been working together to make the exhibition at FAM a reality. It’s been such a pleasure working with you during a time of such uncertainty. I truly look forward to seeing A Queen Withinin Fresno!

SV: It has been wonderful working with you as well. We are so excited to bring A Queen Within to Fresno!


For updates on A Queen Within at the Fresno Art Museum, please visit:


A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes is presented at the Fresno Art Museum by The McClatchy Fresno Arts Endowment of The James B. McClatchy Foundation with major sponsorship from the Lamborn Family & JP Lamborn Co.