Well, that was fast! I’m nearing the end of my internship and in disbelief. We are now taking down the art pieces of our Flourish exhibit (featured pieces from the botanical drawing classes this past spring) and getting ready for our Evolution exhibit which is in partnership with the Society for the Study of Evolution, Society of Systematic Biologists and American Society of Naturalists in Austin, TX.
Since my arrival here in Austin, I’ve been somewhat of a jack of all trades here at Art Science Gallery as I dabbled in several different roles:
I was primarily responsible for connecting with our future instructors for the lab and putting together the summer catalogue. As I mentioned in my previous post, I will (unfortunately) be missing the actual classes/workshops for the summer due to the timing of this internship. I somewhat expected to be more a part of the workshop, class, event development, but because our exhibit themes were not in line with my expertise and due the shortage of time to promote, it was just not possible. Despite this, I got to see first hand the challenges of setting up these courses and promoting them. I’ve also been able to pick up on some design skills which was unexpected. I quickly befriended Adobe Illustrator while formatting and designing promotional material, including the ad and catalogue for the summer courses. All this takes patience and can be frustrating (i.e., software malfunctions, instructors not responding). I suppose that’s why larger organizations have people (and the money) to carrying out these tasks. Having a small business is a lot of work and is more challenging than I expected and Hayley has all my respect for what she’s been able to build.
Social media writer
For our Flourish exhibit, I talked to Hayley about doing more science communication related tasks for our subscribers. We decided that it would be nice to do some research on the different plant species that were featured in the exhibit and do social media posts. So, I created posts for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (this was challenging due to the character limit). Learning about different plant species in Texas was interesting, often I found myself side-tracking as one cool fact led me to another. I was also searching popular hashtags which can be challenging for plants, so sometimes I was found myself piggybacking off of more general hashtags, like #nature. I have done the same for the Evolution pieces which will be shared shortly after our opening which will be exciting! We’ve got some thought provoking pieces that will hopefully spark some discussion. I’ve also been doing social media posts for our summer courses and upcoming events through a Hootsuite which manages all your social media. This is a really neat tool to use because you can make one post for all your social media accounts and you can schedule them on different days/times which saves you time at the end.
The exhibit doesn’t set itself up, so there’s a bit of physical labour involved to get everything prepared. This involves removing the pieces, patching the walls, repainting, cleaning, figuring out where all the pieces will go, creating new labels and for Evolution, we will have an online catalogue which features all the artists along with a description of their work. Creating labels and the catalogue was interesting because I had to edit some artist statements and ensure that they were concise. Sometimes artists took for granted that their audience knew what they were talking about and so I had to make sure that any technical terms were clarified. I didn’t do this for Flourish because we featured students’ work which didn’t have an artist statement.
Gift Shop Sales Associate
Because I help run the gallery, I also had to be well acquainted with the sales side of things. I had to learn how to operate Square, which is a convenient system that allows credit card transactions which is pretty cool. There’s a lot of inventory in the gift shop, so I had to become familiar with artist names as well as their pieces. Managing the gift shop is pretty interesting because of what you get to hear from visitors. I see people get excited about the products they see (all of which are inspired by science), from our cross-stitched viruses to our Nikola Tesla candles.
Events at Art Science Gallery
We’ve had some pretty neat events including a screening of Redwoods (behind the scenes of how they took that huge Redwood picture in the latest National Geographic Magazine) and a talk about endangered plant species in Texas, where the discussion was not only about science but also social engagement – how can we do our part in conservation? During openings and events when we get most of our crowds, I hear some great questions about science (what kind of ecosystem exists in the redwood canopy?), art (what type of printmaking technique is that?) and social engagement (what can I do to help?). What’s amazing to see is that spaces like Art Science Gallery allow for that initial exposure (for many) into the world of science, art or both, but also discussion about the social, political, environmental and heath problems that we see in society. I think that’s arguably what’s most important. We’ve got to understand, continue to ask questions, do the research, create discussions, be open, patient and proactive so we can make decisions the improve our society.