Gallery Ambassador at CMOA

 

Gallery Ambassador at CMOA

Museum Studies Intern at the Carnegie Museum of Art - Fall 2016

For my internship, I worked as a gallery ambassador for Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium at the Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA). To Organize Delirium is an art exhibit which includes Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica's original artworks as well as reconstructions. The exhibit contains participatory, wearable, and sensorial art. It will be exhibited in CMOA from October 1, 2016–January 2, 2017; The Art Institute of Chicago from February 19–May 7, 2017; and the Whitney Museum of American Art from July 14–October 1, 2017. As part of my internship responsibilities, I facilitated visitor experience by engaging in conversations with a diverse range of individuals. My primary concern was to educate the public about the life and artwork of Oiticica. I also indicated to visitors which artworks are interactive and which are not, ensured that artworks were not damaged, and directed visitors to act appropriately within the galleries. As a result of my internship, I gained valuable communication and teaching skills. I also learned how to better interact with and educate visitors of all ages and backgrounds. Fortunately, I will continue my work as a gallery ambassador beyond the end of my internship. In addition to the shifts I spent inside the museum, I was inspired to write a short piece of criticism on the ways by which museums address sensitive topics. In curating Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium, CMOA had to determine the most appropriate ways to address Oiticica’s drug addiction. In To Organize Delirium, the curators chose to exhibit CC5 Hendrixwar. CC5 in an immersive and sensory artwork which includes projections of Jimi Hendrix’s face marked with lines of cocaine. Oiticica uses cocaine as an artistic medium to enclose, emphasize, and obliterate Hendrix’s face on his War Heroes album. Topics deemed controversial by mainstream society, such as drug use, raise questions about a museum’s responsibility to its public. Museum staff must navigate between personal ethics and professional responsibilities as an educational institution. Curators must choose between portraying the facts of an artist’s life without adopting a stance, expressing explicit disapproval of high risk activities, or eliminating all references to controversial topics. I grapple further with this dilemma in my criticism. Colleen O’Reilly, Alex Taylor, and Kirk Savage were crucial in helping me in the beginning stages of this project, and I hope to expand it into an honors thesis with the assistance of Professor Josten.

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