1. What is your art/education background and what are you doing now?
Growing up, I was a classically trained painter and sculptor. I spent time studying at the Art Students League in Manhattan. I learned a lot from my mother, who was a professional portrait painter while raising me. I got my undergraduate degree in sculpture at California College of the Arts. After two years, I took a break from my studies and backpacked throughout Asia and the Middle East. This experience really helped to inform my practices as an artist, an educator, and a person. Part of that time included studying at Kyoto Seika University in Kyoto. After that, I worked in a variety of models of arts’ organizations. I owned a gallery space in Oakland, Calif. that focused on experimental and participatory art practices. Behind the gallery was a school that I founded, called Art Maker Avenue, which allowed the public to participate with the artwork and artists by learning from them. This really set me on the path of being an educator. And it was really about access – how can the public access this content? Education was the key, and it set me on a path to find new and innovative ways to do this.
I was also curating exhibitions and public programs independently at sites around the Bay Area, including the Mondavi Center at UC Davis and the ZERO1 Museum. I got my MFA in art and social practice at Portland State University. I also founded an organization called Creek Colleges that set up schools on the banks of watersheds that were going through active restoration.
Recently, I was the director of community engagement at the College of Visual and Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina Greensboro and director of the university’s off-campus contemporary art center, which I founded. Through this role I supported faculty and students in community engaged teaching, service, and research. I designed projects that connected the university to the community. Now, I find myself at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse!
2. Tell us more about your role as Director of Learning and Engagement.
As Director of Learning and Engagement at the Everson Museum of Art, I am responsible for running the Learning and Engagement Department that focuses on a variety of things. One of them is to create educational curriculum and initiatives related to our permanent collection and exhibitions that inspire lifelong learning for youth and adults. Another is to connect the museum to the community through dynamic partnerships, civic initiatives, and public programs.
3. What type of art activities do you provide to engage our community?
The Everson currently has a variety of art activities available for the community. Our brand new 2022 Everson Summer Art Camp is an immersive program that offers campers a chance to dive into an array of artistic mediums and disciplines while making friends and having fun. Students can take classes in ceramics, mural making, improv, entrepreneurship, and more. We also host weekly Food Truck Fridays, City Markets on second Sundays, Free Community Days, a summer Yoga series, ongoing adult workshops in a variety of topics and disciplines such as Resin-Casting and wine tasting, and ongoing docent-led tours of our incredible exhibitions.
4. What program or project that you have done are you the proudest of?
While I haven’t been here too long, I have been able to squeeze in some exciting programs! One of them was our Juneteenth Free Community Day, a free day of programming to commemorate and celebrate African and African-American culture and heritage. Guests could enjoy a gallery walk with artist Sharif Bey, listen to stories of liberation from the Onondaga County Public Library, create Pan-African flags with educator Vanessa Johnson, attend presentations and performances on the politics and practices of black musical spaces by local researcher and musician James Gordon Williams, watch a video of a Syracuse Stage performance about James Baldwin, and more!