What began as a storage room full of books and other items became a space more wonderful than any one person could have dreamed. After tedious planning, sorting, cleaning, more planning, building, bumps and hoops, this old storage room that occupied the east lower level of the Memorial Building was transformed into a magical space known as Art Works. Art Works is a space that holds nine hands-on activity stations: virtual painting stations, an animation station, a portrait gallery, a still life/observation station, a spectrum sculpture (Chihuly-themed), a vase decoration space, a curiosity corner, a bead pattern place, and a creativity table with art-making that will change out with the traveling exhibit. The room’s bright colored walls and décor make the space charged with life as people of all ages create to their hearts’ content, and nothing is more moving than to be a part of it.
My name is Katie Herring; I have been with Joslyn Art Museum for about a year and a half working full time as a Visitor Service and Protection Representative, mostly posted at the front information desks. However, mid-November I began working in Art Works, and it has been one of the most amazing experiences of my career. The minute I cleared training for the Art Works Assistant position I knew the position would be a wonderful fit for me; I have a BA degree in Art, and I have experience working with children, customer service, and I absolutely love interacting with people. Art has always been the greatest passion in my life and now I get to help connect that passion with helping others find their own! My primary function as Art Works Assistant is to help people of all ages become engaged with everything Joslyn has to offer. Which really means offering soft suggestions to help, encourage, and inspire people; I aim to engage visitors with the stations, offer explanations of how each station connects to the artwork kept upstairs, and help people with technical application in the stations. I also act as a reset for the room, keeping everything tidy and appealing (AKA keeping everything disinfected and CLEAN), as well as making sure the stations are ready to use and are operating, as they should!
However, the absolute best part of my job is to witness the look of surprise and happiness on the faces of people of all ages, when they have created something wonderful; something they didn’t believe they could create. This was the Facebook post I made after my first day in Art Works, I think it really speaks for itself:
It is so wonderful to interact with people and share excitement about creating art! I especially find it interesting to see the Art Works space creating happiness in ways we could have never foreseen. For example, my first week I was working with a mom and son who were painting on the virtual paint canvas. The little boy painted a Christmas tree and the mom was thrilled! Because the mom was able to email herself the image, she shared that she intended to go home and print multiple copies of her son’s art work to send to family members as their Christmas card! I would have never guessed that this space would aid in something like that, and it is wonderful!!
I have never known a job to be more fulfilling and inspiring and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to interact with museum patrons in this great new space. I have heard such wonderful feedback from this space; comments that melt my heart and make all of the work seem completely worthwhile. Call me a witness, this space works. Art works!!
Katie Herring, Art Works Assistant and Visitor Services & Protection Representative