Recently I have introduced an important practice into my schedule, which I enjoy very much: each week I do a forty-five-minute comprehensive walk-through of the museum. Together with colleagues from different areas of the organization we check on all the galleries to make sure our collection is presented in the best possible fashion and with optimal conditions to guarantee a rewarding visitor experience. More importantly, during this walk through I have the chance to shake hands, say good morning, crack smiles, have a chat or two with many of our colleagues and volunteers who work in the galleries, and welcome our visitors as they come into the museum and wander around. It is also an opportunity for me to be close to the art, pay my weekly respects to many of my “friends” and continue to be inspired by our collection.
The collection is, in fact, an amazing platform for inspiration and a good proof of it is a staff-organized exhibition, You Gotta Have Art: Celebrating Staff Creativity, that we opened in our office space last month. The display includes a number of works by the DIA team created in response to some of our pieces in the collection. The ” Amusement Architects,” a group of staff members that promote fun opportunities for fellow employees to share their creative pursuits, proposed this intelligent exhibition idea, which mirrors our current show, Labor of Love — where Isabel and Ruben Toledo produced a number of works in response to others on view in our permanent collection (open until July 7, 2019).
In You Gotta Have Art it is interesting to observe that our Protection Services team, among others participating, is the one, which has the most works of art on view. I am not surprised because many of our officers spend long hours watching our collection and therefore have a special relationship with the art. I also know that some of them are artists, like officer Lyneer Banks, with whom I discussed her artistic practice modeling with clay. In our conversations she mentioned how she can’t wait to get home and dip her hands into the soft, earthy material to create. Listening to her is pure passion, and one can see her talent in her work, Prototype 1 for Sake Set, inspired from two different DIA’s works: Liquor Set (DIA 1999.56.1-7) and a Tea and Coffee Service (2008.15.1-14). Another piece that caught my eye in the show is officer Tim Main’s graphite and conté drawing on paper, What She Carries. In it one sees a beautifully rendered model (fellow officer Sherri Barnes), gazing downward and holding a white object in her hands. It is a reflection on our daily relationships with others. The work is inspired by Marina Abramovic, The Kitchen V: Carrying the Milk (DIA 2010.18), and conveys with ability the tri-dimensional qualities and the sense of stillness of the model in a standing meditation.
I can, of course, continue writing about other works in the show because all of them deserve attention and have moved me in many ways. I want to thank all the participants and congratulate them for their work. I applaud the Amusement Architects’ initiative that features our talent beyond our daily routine and underscores the inspiration that emanates from our collection. These art-centered activities unite our teams and make them stronger. Soon I will proceed with my weekly walk-through in the galleries, and I will be thinking how much our teams care for our collection on a both professional and personal level. It is reassuring. Art has the power to bring people together, enriching all aspects of our life.