Sunday, August 5, 2012

Week 5

July 2nd - July 6th

Thanks to our national holiday, this week was short and sweet. I'll keep my description concise as well by just saying that the week was devoted to finishing the rough draft of the biographical content for the Tanner packet. By Tuesday afternoon, I had completed Tanner's biography, added vocabulary terms, and edited the draft a bit.

Wednesday was the Fourth of July, but we were back on Thursday for another intern field trip. For this excursion, we traveled across the Montrose Street to meet with the staff of Houston's Contemporary Arts Museum (CAMH, commonly referred to as the "CAM").

Museum of Contemporary Arts, Houston
Back of the museum,
sculpture by Houston native and artist Mel Chin.

The meeting assembled in a sort-of pow-wow in the middle of the museum's ground-level gallery. Standing in a large circle, MFAH interns and CAMH staff and interns introduced themselves. At George's request, some of the CAM's head staff spoke at length about their backgrounds, offering their professional trajectories and experiences. Most notable were the stories of Director Bill Arning and Senior Curator Valerie Cassel Oliver. As to be expected, both described years of hard work. However, each also embodied a strong degree of flexibility in navigating their experiences. Although neither began their formal education in the visual arts (Arning wanted to be a musician and Oliver originally got her undergraduate degree in communications), by embracing and taking full advantage of their changing interests and opportunities, both have built sound careers and have done impressive, often groundbreaking work in the field. I especially liked Oliver's characterization of curating as "collecting voices." A number of Arning's quotes were also amusing and cogent. Towards the end of the discussion, he said something to the extent of: "Sex, violence, and other controversial subjects are all over television and it's numbing. There's plenty of sex, violence, etc. in a contemporary art museum, but here it's up close and personal. Here, it makes you think." After the meeting, the MFAH interns stayed to check out the two exhibitions currently on view: It Is What It Is. Or Is It? and Perspectives 178: Cineplex, both of which were appropriately exciting and thought provoking.

I left the group a bit early to assist with Family Programs at the MFAH. The day's activity was scroll painting, inspired by the Japanese art of the Powers exhibition. Volunteers help kids and their families discover how to use the value of a pigment to designate foreground, middle ground, and background in landscapes. I ended the week by having a meeting with Dr. Ramirez about my progress with the Tanner packet and by beginning to add the content and make the adjustments that she had suggested.

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