Friday, July 24, 2009

In the Future

by Marysia Lopez

This week, two women from Sarasota came in to meet with Peter to discuss Museum at Work, and to observe the overall museum atmosphere. These women are in the process of opening up their own contemporary art museum in Sarasota. As they jokingly said, they were hoping to explore how CAM works in order to avoid making mistakes when they open their own museum. 


To speak with these women was definitely one of my highlights here so far.  I probed them about the process of opening up a brand new museum (something I've never given much thought to) and they tested us on our knowledge of Museum at Work. After asking them about their journey in opening a new museum, I found out that it's a very slow and long process. They shared with us that they needed to raise $22 million in order to start and open up their museum. In two years, they have raised a little less than half of that. Unfortunately, with the current state of the economy, not many have the money to donate to the arts.


Something that really caught my attention was when one of the two women mentioned that they really wanted to make it a contemporary art museum to help people get over their "fear" of contemporary art. I never really thought of contemporary art as something to be feared, but the more I thought about it, the more I noticed that it was true. As one intern stated in a past entry, she confused a table that was used to bring out art pieces from the vault, with a piece of art. Contemporary art is different than art of the past because there seems to be no constraints on what "defines" art anymore. Many people might go into a contemporary art museum and wonder "why is that art?"  Instead of allowing themselves to enjoy the art, they become confused and frustrated. I have to admit that as a Humanities major who has studied mostly Renaissance and Baroque art, I am sometimes guilty of doing the same thing. But in my weeks of interning at CAM so far, I've realized how important contemporary art museums are in keeping the local culture of art alive. As Museum at Work comes to an end, I can honestly say that I'm very proud to have gotten the opportunity to intern at CAM and I can't wait to see what else CAM will bring to the USF community in the future.

Exceeding Expectations

by Ashley Rand

Museum at Work has finally come to an end. I must say I learned way more than I originally anticipated. When I started the project in May, I had no idea how much I would take from this experience. I found myself in this final week at CAM looking around and realizing everyone has an important role. Entering in the museum on Monday, I watched as one show came down, the preparations to get the next show had started. In fact, the next show doesn't open until August 17th, however it takes a lot of time to set up the gallery and paint the walls to get everything into order for things to get accomplished. On Tuesday, the art work for the next show had come into CAM. While Shannon checked everything in and other museum staff helped as well, moving things around so the crates would fit, you realize just how sturdy and heavy they are to transport all the work. Although the art work came in on Tuesday, you can't just open up the crates and check out the artwork right away because it needs to adjust to the temperature and sit for a day or so. After sitting, the artwork needs to be inspected, and a long process of documenting the condition of the work begins (including photographs and reports that go along with a binder so each time this show is shipped, the next museum has an idea how it left our hands). In theory this sounds quite easy, however it indeed takes a lot of time to piece together, but none the less, it is a very important step in putting the show together.

Although the internship is finished, I don't believe this is the last CAM has seen of me. I plan on volunteering during this next year to get some more insight on how every aspect of the museum is run; I feel there is always something more to learn. I look forward to expanding my mind and learning more.

The Visuals of Silence

by Barbara Cardinale

When a show comes to an end, usually the curtain falls.  Yet, this was not the case during week 9 at CAM.  I am not exactly sure why the black velvet cape had to go up, but despite my ignorance, it's so odd to see our work space so open. We continued to document gelatin silver prints in the collection.  Hugo Leopold's works, although a bit redundant in theme, were beautiful.  I was curious as to where the 'beach-esque' photographs were shot, and Shannon, after researching a bit, deduced that the shots were taken somewhere in California.  We also shared a lunch together on Thursday, as Enaam and Sarah worked diligently in the kitchen to make us all at CAM a beautiful meal that consisted of mostly Vietnamese cuisine.  All were silent, which meant that the food was delicious.  It was so nice coming together to eat, as this is a sure sign of an ending to what has been a wonderful working experience.  On Friday, there was more silence, as I did not have to partake in writing an entry for the journal because we will be writing a wrap-up entry next week.  It's so shocking that next week will be the end of the exhibition project, but I am looking forward to the coming week's activities because I have been able to make some time to come in a a few extra hours.  We also have gained a few more interns, since the summer B semester has begun.  We have a new blogger on board, Marysia, so I spent some time Thursday explaining to her the ins-and-outs of the blog.  I was pleased to see Friday afternoon that she had already submitted two entries.  Surely, I am going to miss interning at CAM, but that absolutely does not mean that I won't be back to enjoy one of my favorite places to be on campus.  I feel so fortunate that I have been able to get to know the staff more intimately and work with them on such an important documentation and exhibition project. 

Continuing to Learn

by Marysia Lopez

We are getting closer to the end of Museum at Work, and although I haven’t been working on it for nearly as long as everyone else, I can see that a lot of hard work has gone into the exhibition project.  I think all of the volunteers and interns should be proud of all the work they’ve put into it.

I helped with more photographing of different art work, thereby learning how to handle each different type of art work, from paintings to photography.  I also helped Shannon make the labels for the art work, which displays the name of the artist, the art work, the year it was made, etc.  Yet another one of those things you always see in art museums, but never give much thought to.  It was definitely a more complicated process than I thought it would be. First I helped Shannon correct some mistakes that had been made to some of the labels and saw that an adobe program was used to make them, instead of plain old Microsoft Word, which was what I assumed was used.  Little did I know that the Adobe program was a lot of help in not only centering the wording, but also in the cutting that would take place later.  After printing, we used spray adhesive to place them on a white board, then cut them into rectangular pieces.  This is where the lines that Adobe had created on the sides came in handy (with knowing where to cut). 

As Museum at Work comes to an end, I’m excited to work on new projects/exhibitions and I know I will continue to learn much more about working in a museum. 

Prints in Person

by Ashley Rand

As Museum at Work is coming to an end I find myself wanting to learn as much as possible. It was quiet in the work area on Monday. Peter and I managed to get the day's work done in a timely fashion with our assembly line in order. Peter would take the print and photograph the image while I would simply document and keep track of the day's work. It was quiet also due to the fact that the Sixty Minutes show is currently down and people may just think our half is done as well, but we'll still be going on another week, so please stop by. Other than that, my highlight of the week was seeing actual William Eggelston's prints in person. I was so excited to be able to get up close and examine his work, but when I had the chance to see the prints I was a little taken back. Being an admirer of his work, the prints which we were photographing are nothing what I expected. This doesn't mean they weren't awesome shots; the subject matter in my opinion was not that interesting in most prints. When envisioning Eggelston's prints I hoped to see vibrant colors and scenes with torn windows or people simple yet complicated, not just up close flowers. However, it was still amazing to say I had the opportunity to see his work in person. With only one week left to the show, I am pretty much satisfied with how everything has turned out with my experience. I feel like as a group we accomplished what was expected, if not more. I know in my experience I learned a lot of rules to live by in a museum world.

What is Contemporary Art?

by Sarah Crocker 

I learned much more during my time at CAM than I had ever thought I would.  In the past, when I've volunteered someplace, my duties haven't been much more than menial labor: move this box, file these papers, vacuum the floor.  I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that I would be doing more than just that at the museum.  We were taught how to handle and move artwork, various printing and other production techniques, and how to hang certain pieces on the wall (not to mention a little math on the side).  Peter and Shannon were willing to answer all of my questions, some of which were incredibly basic and not always the most observant (“So, how are you going to photograph that piece of art?”  “ ...that's actually a cart, Sarah”). 

Also, working with other volunteers and interns who were there almost entirely because of their interests in art and museum work was loads of fun.  I'm not trying to present an overly happy, false picture just to save face for some reason; I honestly enjoyed working with all of the various people who were involved in this project.  It's exciting to see how we all tried to make sense of this exhibition using our backgrounds in art, museum work, English, anthropology, the humanities, and more.  I know I can always use a few new perspectives that aren't grounded in the social sciences.

This definitely isn't going to be goodbye for me.  This project has only served to further my interests in museum work and, schedule allowing, I plan to continue working at CAM as a volunteer.  I only expected this to be a way to take up time during the summer and marginally fulfill my interests; it has turned out to mean much, much more.

My First Week

by  Marysia Lopez

Although the week of June 28th meant being closer to the end of Museum at Work for most other volunteers and interns, it was the first week for me.  I couldn’t help but feel slightly overwhelmed, as everyone else had a routine down, while I had just come back from studying art history in Florence.  Coming back from 6 weeks of studying 14th and 15th century art works and jumping into the works at the Contemporary Art Museum was definitely an adjustment.  But I think it’s always interesting to wonder what people centuries from now will say of the art we’ve been photographing and documenting at CAM. What will it reveal about our society, politics, and overall history?  As a humanities major, I’m always considering these factors when looking at art, whether contemporary, from a few decades ago, or from a few centuries ago.

In just two days of interning at CAM, I had already learned much more than I knew about working in an art museum before coming in, which I have to admit was essentially nothing.  On my first day, we worked on photographing a portfolio which combined both words and art work.  I learned about the importance of handling these works carefully, but also not taking too much time on handling them carefully because, as Peter said, the more time you spend handling an art work, the more likely you are to do something to it.  I also learned the importance of photographing an art work correctly.  In other words, making it look appealing and also making it look like what it actually is.  In this way, it could be compared to commercial photography for advertisements. 

Even though I came in late to Museum at Work, I can already tell that this project is teaching me a lot and will continue to do so.

A Diamond in the Rough

by Barbara Cardinale

Week eight was short and sweet for me because of the Fourth of July holiday.  Rather than discussing the minimal amount of work I did, (pick up print. set it down. repeat.), I want to share my thoughts on how wonderful it is to live in a country in which art is appreciated (although, I guess not always.)  I read in the Museum Education Monitor, a publication sponsored by the American Association of Museums (, that only two congressman openly support funding for museums.  A pretty shallow number compared to the 435 total representatives.  Without the support of those apart from the government (i.e. museum directors, visitors, donors, artists, YOU, etc.), I couldn't imagine what state our country would be in without museums and art.  

The Contemporary Art Museum is like a diamond in the rough.  When I mention to fellow students that aren't associated with the artsy side of USF whether or not they have been to CAM, they look at me like I'm an alien.  It's a shame that this museum isn't as popular as the USF football team, but at least we have it.  Since I work with the University Archives in Special and Digital Collections, one of the ways that I preserve CAM's legacy is by collecting and archiving the museum exhibition postcards.  I also hung the "Work Promotes Confidence" postcard on my door at work to promote the Museum at Work exhibition project.  A blog like this also helps get the word out, so please, make comments, tell us what you think, and most of all, come see us!  There are only two weeks left and your patronage is always appreciated!  

50 Pieces

by Ashley Rand

This week was quite eventful. On Monday alone, we managed to document 50 pieces of unframed work. I know it sounds like a lot, but that's because it is. We managed to photograph the entire series by Larry Clark titled Tulsa. The series includes 50 images that are approximately the same size. So one might think the process for documenting these works would be easy. Actually, although it was simple, it did require a lot of prep work to get the series completed. Since we have moved onto documenting flat works, the entire working area has changed, as we now have the lights set up in a way that faces down towards the floor. We have our working area set close to the ground, with the camera mounted on a tripod above the work. It takes a few test shots for us to get the day started.  Once Peter is comfortable and satisfied with the lighting, the assembly line begins to form. With unframed prints, you need to be extra sensitive as to not crease, bend, or mark up the paper. In this case, I was mainly helping out setting up the gray and color scales alongside the prints and making sure that the photograph was set up backwards due to the way the camera was arranged. Being that this series is incredibly delicate, Peter and Shannon were the only ones to handle the actual art work that day, while the interns recorded and helped when needed. This was by far one of my favorite days. Not because I didn't have a lot to do, but for having the opportunity to see this series in person. It was by far amazing. It made me realize why I loved black and white photography and everyday life with normal people. This series was simply beautiful, even though some prints weren't pleasant to look at, it still told a story about how one survived in Tulsa. I never would have imagined. After seeing this series, I now feel it's necessary to have the book in my collection and will be purchasing it within the week. I can't wait to see what works we will photograph next week. My excitement keeps growing each week. 

Monday, July 6, 2009

Simply Amazing

by Ashley Rand

Another week with the Museum at Work and still learning something new each day. This week was quite eventful as we managed to finish all the framed pieces of art work, however, in the process I was able to learn how to store the works. This was by far one of my most stressful weeks because the art varied so much in size. Any normal person would just store the art back to back, front to front, but in a museum there are precautions in which one needs to follow in order to store the work properly. In fact, you do place artwork back to back or front to front depending on which way it is needed, although on top of that the work needs to span the other piece. "What exactly does that mean?" you might ask; it means that the when storing art you can't have a piece smaller than the one in front, behind because it will dig into the back of the work. The same goes for placing the pieces facing each other; you can't have a piece that the frame sets on the Plexiglas; it needs to be wider or taller than the original piece. "Why?" you ask; simply because you want to avoid the possibility of scratches getting onto the work. This was news to me and in fact took me an entire day to get the hang of it. Although it makes complete sense, I never would have known how to place art back in the vault.

While working at CAM, I often check local museums for exhibits going on and was beyond excited when I saw the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Pete having an exhibit on Andy Warhol. I was able to go see the show on Wednesday, and was absolutely amazed. However, while I enjoyed the show and the museum, I realized how much effort went into hanging each piece onto the wall. I know the dedication and hard work each individual went through to make sure every piece was hung at the exact place on the wall. I feel for the first time that I not only appreciated the exhibit, but indeed everything that went along with the art work. After working with the Museum at Work staff at CAM this summer, I know the dedication it takes to make a show successful. I would advise people to go look at this exhibit, for it was simply amazing.

Talking Heads of the Museum

by Barbara Cardinale

As I walked into CAM during week seven, I was taken back by the changes in the gallery. The black cloak that had once masked half of the set was now pulled back from side to side to reveal a contraption that holds a camera and unframed works of art. Peter was engaged in testing the camera to print ratio. While he was doing this, he appeared more so as an actor than a photographer, as he had to leap back and forth from the camera to a spot on the "stage" that wouldn't distort the lighting. We interns and volunteers all agreed that the exhibition project is not only an exercise in viewing and touching art works, but physically a performance art in how we are constantly moving and displaying ourselves. As a lover of performance arts (I've been in a few on-stage productions), I find myself feeling like David Byrne of the Talking Heads-- a man that combined visual art with performance art. How awesome is it that I get to work in this environment?

Also this week, I was interviewed by a member of the Oracle newspaper staff. Check out what I had to say, as well as others here:

The Art of the 1970's

by Jasmine Rippy


Photographed the Documenta series from 1970 – finding out how much I like work from the1960’s-late 70’s….There is a quality to early contemporary work that resonates just as strong today as it must have then. I find that many modern day contemporary artists are regurgitating that which our predecessors had been doing years before and it is not exactly any better. Something very bad happened to art in the 80’s and I’d very much like to see it shaken off already.


Got through most of the objects today but hit some bumps with hanging work so will finish up the rest of what we pulled from the vault tomorrow


Nothing spectacular about the day; we are doing the same thing we do everyday. Got to photograph a Robyn Denny piece that was pretty neat. His work is more about the object than it was of the old school institutional idea of that pretty picture on the wall. It consists of multiple shallow plexi cubes and pigment coated metallic panels inside. Each piece has a subtle colour change from panel to panel ranging from orange to green. It will be nice to look at all the images together later on in the term to get an idea of these in their full context.


New week and new works to document – Eduardo Paolozzi Unit I: Secret of Life, The Human Machine and How it Works was my favorite of the day. (Again from 1970) I had to look him up after we were done today to check out some of his other work. I much prefer learning about art / artists this way much more than reading about it in a book or trying to stay awake in a lecture. Educators take note*


Lots of interns here today so we are sharpening our skills of teamwork, communication and sharing. Pulled some amazing photographs to do – Minor White (no, its not Ian MacKaye’s new band.) Again, I had to look him up… apparently one of the greatest American photographers.


Mostly prints today – Had some nice work by Donald Staff from his Sonnets Suit. It has become a lot of: pull, hang, shoot, put back – the repetition becomes monotonous and it makes me feel like I am disrespecting art somehow by failing to take the time to appreciate it.


Wrapping up of photographing framed works today and I can’t help but to have mixed feelings of it. Glad to be moving on to dealing with something new but there are still so many more pieces in the framed collection I would love to see and learn from. I will have to come back after the term....


Reconfigured lighting and camera set up for working with works on paper. Also got a chance to hang about in the fabrications and repairs shop with the cool rats as they tricked out our new transport cart for the flat works. Bam! Whut!?


Finalized new set up for flat paper works: tweaked the lighting, created clean steady surfaces for transporting and prepping artwork, cleaned and tidied up accumulations from past few weeks (putting away tools and the like that we will no longer need etc.) and then started to shoot works on paper! We started out with two portfolios of photographic work. The art handler’s dance has changed rhythm and the work is so much more vulnerable.

CAM is a Stage

by Sarah Crocker

The more I think about it, the more thought-provoking this past Thursday has been. Earlier in the day, I had talked to one of the other volunteers about how the Museum at Work exhibition project may be interpreted as a form of performance art. We (volunteers, interns, and museum employees) are a vital part of the project, whether or not we recognize this fact. If you consider this exhibition project to be performance art, in whatever significant or insignificant way, we are part of the art itself. Maybe this isn't a revelation for anyone else. I don't feel like a painting or a print or a photograph, but if people are visiting the museum to see both the artwork and the workers (or at least the process of moving and photographing the artworks), it's undeniable that we're a vital part of this exhibit.

When we're not in the museum actually working on something, there's little to see. This reminds me of the reporter that came in recently, after many of us had left or were packing up to leave. He stood next to the barrier, in plain sight of the camera and lighting set-up and all of the computer equipment and asked “Where's the exhibit?” I certainly don't think that this was a stupid question; instead I believe it speaks to the importance of our place in this project.

Another interesting thing occurred Thursday. When I first walked into the gallery, I saw Shannon standing in front of what, at the time, looked like an elaborate art installation. There was a large white board, a smaller blue box on top of that, and a strange metal and wood structure bolted to the side of it. Trying to play it cool, even though I had no idea what the piece was about, I mentioned it to Shannon... who told me it was a cart for transporting prints.

Initial embarrassment aside, it really made me think about others possibly faking an appreciation for art. Even more interesting, Shannon mentioned how a lot of people walk into an art museum (especially if it's a contemporary art museum) expecting that everything in the gallery is a work of art. This mild paranoia, combined with my reluctance to seem like a complete blockhead, produced a fairly entertaining result. I wonder if anyone else feels this way.