Summer Internship at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Georgia

Over summer break, I was given the opportunity to complete an internship at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Georgia, as a part of the Collections department. During my internship, I worked with Ms. Stacey Savatsky, the head of the Collections department, and a team of four other interns. Under her supervision, I, along with my other interns, did research on the artists who MOCA GA exhibits, helped organize the permanent collection, worked at the front desk, and learned how to handle contemporary art. I also helped complete condition reports for the art of Larry Walker, and most importantly, helped deinstall and install exhibits in the public museum itself. I gained many skills during this period, and soon recognized the need to think on your feet in museum curation to prevent catastrophe. One example of this was when the A/C broke in the art vault. There were many pieces which needed to be kept at a cool temperature, so we (the interns) were tasked with setting up many fans to circulate cool air in the vault, in the hour it took the A/C repairman to fix the main problem.

This internship helped me gain much-needed experience in museum work and exhibition design and see the inner workings of museums themselves. I also got to meet and work with several key figures in the Atlanta museum scene, such as Ms. Annette Cone-Skelton, the director of MOCA GA. As I hope to pursue a career in museum curation, the connections I made in the Atlanta art and museum scene and experience I gained at MOCA GA will help me set a manageable and possible career path. While I will always cherish the time I had at MOCA GA, I hope that it will provide a useful stepping stone as I pursue internships at larger museum institutions and apply for Museum Studies graduate programs.

 

Related Art History Learning Outcomes:

  • Take responsibility for direction of education; articulate areas of future development or inquiry).
  • Embrace experiential learning and take responsibility for education (attend events at the Dalton Gallery or other campus events; participate in activities off-campus with artists, galleries, museums, and other venues; connect with the larger art world regionally, nationally, and internationally; articulate paths for future development of individual research).

Blog Post Eleven: Off Campus Visit to Whitespace Gallery

Whitespace Gallery’s recent exhibition of the works of Pete Schulte contained a series of interesting and seemingly unassuming paintings. At first glance, they looked like relatively simple works, made with black and white mediums, and displaying easy geometric shapes such as rectangles, circles and arches. However, on closer examination of the works, it was revealed that they actually consisted of little dots placed so closely together that the shapes they made looked concrete. Not only that, but the perspectives Schulte played with when creating his works created unique pictures out of basic shapes. Finally, tonally, these works are quite relaxing, with their muted color palette and simple nature.

The gallery itself reflected this with its atmosphere. Set in the back of the owner’s house in a converted stable, it was mostly set with white walls and black accents, almost matching the Schulte’s works. Compared to the bright day outside, it definitely encouraged me to relax and stay in the gallery and look at the work. What was especially interesting was the garden shed in Whitespace. It was a refurbished shed, complete with a dirt floor. This was perhaps the most unique gallery space that I had ever seen. However, the amount of natural light in it definitely made Schulte’s drawings look good. I do wonder, though, about the effect the direct natural light had on the conservation of each work. In this way, Whitespace Gallery and the work in it was a unique, complex and relaxing experience.

Blog Post Ten: On Campus Exhibition Visit

Dalton Gallery’s exhibition of Showing/Thinking followed the lives and works of five Agnes Scott professors: Dr. Yvonne Newsome, Dr. Julia Knowlton, Professor Jeffery Whittle, Dr. Rachel Hall-Clifford, and Dr. Willie Tolliver. Each professor was given a separate room which was designed to reflect the scholarship and influences of these professors. The exhibition was designed by Professor Maria Korol and the Exhibition Processes class, and contained art and installations from both professionals and the students themselves.

Dr. Newsome’s room, the first that visitors saw when they entered the space, focused on her remembrance of the Civil Rights Movement and study of black feminist theory, intersectionality, and the portrayal of black people in the media. This was reflected in the quilt of civil rights events in the south, the installation of a home scene featuring an I AM A MAN poster, portraits of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and the Obama family, Newsome’s recent presentation on the portrayal of black politicians, and a self-portrait of Dr. Newsome surrounded by the women who have inspired her work.

To the left, Professor Jeffery Whittle’s room reflected the process that he goes through when creating paintings, and featured some of his recently-completed works. His room included a collage of pictures of his studio, two sketch books and a wall of initial sketches, and some items from his studio which he says help inspire his work. Dr. Rachel Hall-Clifford’s room explored the health issues in Guatemala. It included an abstract color collage intended to represent the different colors of feces (which changes as health changes), a documentary about health issues in Guatemala, some pictures taken by Dr. Hall-Clifford during her studies in Guatemala, and some cultural artifacts which were given to her by the people she stayed with.

Dr. Julia Knowlton’s room explored her ties to Paris and love of French poetry and literature. It was by far the most ornate of all the rooms, painted a turquoise color and embellished with gold leaf. It included photographs of Paris, some of Knowlton’s favorite French books and poems, and an installation of a Parisian café. Finally, Dr. Willie Tolliver’s room explored his work analyzing the role of black men in the media; specifically, his studies surrounding the roles of Will Smith. It contained several films of Will Smith and other actors, a bookcase with some of the works he has studied, a wall on the six degrees of separation, and some pieces that reflect his identity as a black man. As one of the curators, it was very cool to see what everyone came up with and to see the show come together. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. There are some changes that I would have made to Dr. Newsome’s room specifically (I was one of the curators for that room). For example, that room felt, to me, very blank and formal; I would have liked to add some more color to the exhibit to make it more eye catching and to have dug further into her work on intersectionality. However, overall it was a very good show.

Blog Post Eight: Research for Final Project

I initially began this project with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. I had originally played with the idea of looking at the different ways light and darkness intersect with each other before deciding that the idea would be a) rather simple in terms of concept, and b) would be difficult to fully pull off. After much contemplation, I decided to look at the different ways people perceive the night, collecting quotes from authors like Lord Byron and Sarah Williams all the way to Eurpides. I had planned to illustrate the quotes collected over a faint outline of said quote, but quickly lost enthusiasm in the idea. After considering what I love most about the nighttime, I ultimately decided that

I would use the quotes to inform one of my favorite things about the night: the sky. The basic concept is to show a six-panel progression of the night sky, from bad to good. I will start with a basic, starless night. The next panel will involve an ominous blood moon. After that, a basic starlit night sky will take up the third panel, before converting into a meteor shower in fourth panel. After that, the Aurea borealis will take up the fifth panel, as the book moves into the good and wondrous of the night sky. Finally, an illustration of the galaxy as seen during the nighttime from earth will be the last scene. I’ve pulled several images from the internet to help inspire each section. As the night sky is one of my favorite parts of the nighttime, I think it will look great!

Atlanta Contemporary Art: Sheida Soleimani

Medium of Exchange by Sheida Soleimani is a small exhibit in the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. Soleimani, the daughter of two Iranian political refugees, specializes in creating works of art that are social and political commentaries. In the case of this exhibit, she focuses on the greed of those involved in the petroleum industry (specifically the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). She mentions the disparity in living conditions between rich profiteers and the everyday citizens in the countries that are part of OPEC, saying that revenue from the oil industry is not used to help the citizens of that country. This exhibit is intended to bring to light the “corruption at the center of the petroleum industry” and encourage people to resist said corruption (Wall Text). It consists of a series of collages and one video created from pictures of political and economic leaders, news reports, and archives relating to the petroleum industry. The exhibit is laid out in an almost nonsensical pattern of free-standing and wall-hanging works. The collages are difficult for people to understand who do not know much about this issue. However, the video that accompanies the exhibit clears up much of this confusion. The exhibit would have benefited if the video was the first thing visitors saw when they entered the exhibit. However, the nature of the space meant that the only place the video could be was in the far right corner of the room. In this way, the exhibit needs some work to truly be effective.

Works Cited

Wall text, Medium of Exchange, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, Ga.

Gallery Visits

Credit: “Whitespace Gallery Shed” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

One thing which intrigued me about the galleries that we visited was the different way that they displayed their works. While in many cases institutional galleries attempted to get as many pieces as they could shown in their space, commercial galleries gave each piece space so that they could individually be enjoyed. There was not as much emphasis placed on a full collection. As these galleries were mostly commercial, I suppose that allowing visitors to focus on one piece at a time helps them to not get overwhelmed and decide that they want to buy a work.

I also felt like galleries are much more flexible with the way they use their space. They focus on what will make the art look good instead of what the art needs to stay pristine, like in museums. One example that I saw of this was the shed at Whitespace Gallery. No museum would dream of putting art in a dirt floor shed, yet Whitespace is able to pull it off. Also, artists have more say in the way that they want their art to be displayed in galleries than they do in museums. This results in some very specific designs, like the sculpture that we saw in Hathaway Gallery. In this way, the different purposes of museums and commercial galleries results in some differences between the way art is displayed.

Blog Post Seven: Mixed Media Critique

Credit: “Mixed Media” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

I was not particularly thrilled by the outcome of this project. While there were sections I liked, overall the composition looked disjointed and not at all like how I had imagined the final picture. While I understand that attempting to reconcile the artistic styles of old, professional artists with my own amateur art is probably not the best criteria for critique, I was still left dissatisfied, as a whole.
There are some sections which I particularly enjoy. These include the charcoal section (bottom center), the photography section (second to the bottom right), the pointillism section (top center), and the pop art section (bottom left). Several which I was all right with, but not particularly inspired by, were the stained glass (second to the top, left), Rococo (top, right), Baroque (second to the top, right) and expressionism section (second to the bottom, left). I did not like the way the impressionist (second to the top, center), classical sculpture (bottom right), cave painting (top left) and naturalism (second to the bottom, center) sections looked. The cave painting looked more like someone had spilled wine than blown pigment on it, the brush strokes in the impressionist section were too big, the classical sculpture section had no good definition, and the naturalism section turned more into a contemporary Howard Finster painting than a Renaissance naturalism section. The different sections also posed a problem for me because I wasn’t able to get a cohesive picture. As a result, the composition looks more like a bunch of individual pieces glued together in a collage. That being said, I was able to use a variety of materials to create a very interesting array of images. In this way, while I think that my concept was great, the way that it was carried out was less than stellar.

Blog Post Six: Mixed Media Progress

Credit: “Logan Laughing” by Emma Wheeler is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

For this project, my biggest problem has been to figure out what each of the twelve sections of my portrait will be like. While I know that I
want to change the actual portrait from a contorted version of my face (top left) to a more sedate, contemplative (easier to draw) portrait (bottom left), I had no idea how to split the portrait. Eventually, reflecting on the context of my new portrait (I was visiting the Roman bath in Bath, England, which I had previously studied in a Roman art history course) I decided that I want to do each section inspired by a different art history movement. As an art history major, I felt

Credit: “Logan” by Mark Douglas is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

that this would characterize my approach to art itself very well. I have decided to do sections based on the stylistic tenets which characterize cave paintings, pointillism, Rococo painting, stained glass windows, impressionism, Baroque painting, expressionism, naturalism, photography, pop art, charcoal (the oldest art medium in the world), and classical sculpture. While some of these sections will be easy to finish (such as the charcoal, photography, pointillism and pop art sections), the sections inspired by Rococo and Baroque painting, naturalism and Roman classical sculpture will be very difficult, as I find it difficult to accurately draw faces, and they all rely on an accurate depiction of people. I hope to use different types media that will help me best reflect each individual artistic style. Hopefully the finished product will look very cool!