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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Interview with Summer Gallery Interpreters Austin and Hannah

Austin Henderson is a second-year Fine Art student at Queen’s University and Hannah Kramer is a third-year Fine Art student at Queen’s University. They are both working with the RMG this summer as Gallery Interpreters, supported by the Young Canada Works Program, and sat down to discuss their experiences at the RMG.

The RMG: Why were you interested in working in an art gallery this summer?

Austin: In the spring, I was searching for jobs that matched my interests and field of study. I visited local galleries, handed out my resumes, and hoped for the best. Art galleries have been of great interest to me since I started getting serious about my artistic endeavours. My current dream job would be to work in a gallery as a curator some day, so this is a great opportunity. So far, I’ve learned a lot about how an art gallery works and I know I’m in a comfortable environment with many people who are willing to lend their professional advice towards my future, so I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

Hannah: I worked at the RMG last summer, and I was super excited when I was offered the position again this year. As a university student, I feel very lucky to not only have a full time job, but to have one that combines my favourite things.   Everyday I am immersed in a positive and energetic environment, where I am exposed to a mixture of contemporary and historical art.  Working at an art gallery, especially the RMG is an opportunity I never expected as a student.

The RMG: What will you be doing during your placement at the gallery?

Austin & Hannah: Our responsibilities for the summer are broken down by month for the most part. During June, we plan the summer programming based on loose themes advertised for registration.  As well as designing a schedule, we are responsible for composing a materials list, and training our volunteers.  During June we also assist with any remaining school tour groups, and demo activities as well as prep materials.  July is camp! We teach and run the entire camp for 5 weeks, with the help of our wonderful volunteers.  We really appreciate everything they do for us because we would not be able to manage without them!  The first 4 weeks we have a range of kids aged 5-11, and during the 5th week, we run a toddler and teen camp.   For the two weeks that we are still here in August we clean and organize the studio in preparation for the fall.

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The RMG: What is one thing you want to share about the RMG?

Austin: I’ve taken some studio classes at the RMG in the past, and I knew that it was a gallery that was close-by that housed some really interesting work, but what I didn’t know until starting this job was how big the gallery’s collection is! It houses over 4000 works in its permanent collection alone, and reaches out to local and international artists, and many other galleries’ collections. I think it’s also important for the public to know how much the RMG cares about its community. Numerous programs are run throughout the year that works to enhance the gallery’s relationship with its visitors, and I think that’s crucial in a smaller city like Oshawa.

Hannah: Working at the RMG doesn’t feel like a job to me. It’s very strange but awesome when you love coming to work. Everyone on staff is so interesting, and creates a welcoming and engaging environment. The RMG always has a very positive energy, and I think that is a rare thing.

The RMG: What is your favourite museum?

Austin: It’s really cliché, but March of last year, I had a chance to go to Paris with my high school. It was my first time in the city, and everything about it blew my mind. Needless to say, I’ll definitely be returning. Of course, we paid a visit to The Louvre on our first day, and being an art history fanatic, I freaked out. I think most of my amazement had to do with the building’s opulence, history, stature, and of course the mere fact that it was The Louvre! My whole experience was so overwhelming; despite the fact I was only in there for a couple hours. To me, it felt like a small honour to be able to walk around that incredible gallery with so many celebrated surprises inside.

Hannah: My favourite museum is the MoMA. I’ve been twice, once when I was ten, and the second time last fall with my school.  It’s really incredible seeing all the work that you learn about in art history – seeing the real thing is such a different experience than looking at a picture on a slide.  Monet’s Water Lilies were unexpectedly my favourite.

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The RMG: What is your first memory of art?

Austin: My first memory of art comes from my love for Disney movies and The Wizard of Oz. When I was little, I would always be drawing my favourite Disney characters and the entire Oz cast (on my Magna Doodle and on paper). Admittedly enough, I still draw them today! Those movies provided me with an outlet to a colourful imagination, where I believe my love for art came from.

Hannah: My first memory of art isn’t a specific place or time. I just remember my granddad used to take me to different art events and galleries throughout Toronto.  I have a faint memory of one specifically, I don’t remember where or what it was for, I just remember not wanting to leave.  In my memory we stayed there creating art all day.

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