The gallery is an exciting opportunity to not only inspire the community year-round but to foster in new developments in cultivating channels for multifaceted approaches to art and the artists bridging together interdisciplinary dialogue and interactions. Collaboration and mentorship are important components in the academic gallery environment. Through the role of a faculty advisor, senior student mentor and a woman curator, I advocate for my student’s and gallery attender’s growth and success within a safe and inclusive environment and encourage diversity and inclusion awareness through conversations and creative development.

I recently worked with the Office of Alumni and Advancement at Doane University in developing mindful and appropriate exhibition spaces for recently bequeathed donor acquisitions. Most recently, that focus has been on Mid Century and Contemporary African art collection donated to honor the humanitarian work and educational commitments of an Education Professor from Doane University’s Adult Learning Program. The exhibition space is a cultivated visual learning area that introduces students to specifically Nigerian cultures and the art respresented. It also encourages the students to further research on the represented African artists within the exhibition.

One way I have opened the doors to the public, after COVID has been to offer “Drop-in Drawing Sessions on Saturdays.” The open drawing sessions allowed the community not connected to the University access to the art collection and exhibition presented and gives space to be creative in a non-classroom format. The Rall Gallery resides in a heavily migrant and bilingual rural community and through the efforts of handing out information to the local businesses, message boards and direct contact with the local cultural and arts community centers, the gallery experienced a significant influx of outside community members coming to the gallery for the first time.

I am currently on the academic standing committee which includes the admissions advisory subcommittee and the academic progression subcommittee. While participating in these faculty communities, I engage in fostering the growth of a more diverse body of students that includes minorities and first-generation students. As a first generation graduate myself, I have discovered that the gallery is a wonderful opportunity to cultivate programming and mentorship programs that create a continued relevance and marketability to students in regards to museum studies and gallery related jobs. As a curator mentor, I take time to engage in conversation, listen to student and gallery attender’s comments and concerns and help them find relatable solutions to ensure sustainability and potential success in their field and gallery experience

Currently, I am working with a student in the gallery and art collection through direct study experiences. Throughout the semester, the student learns basic art handling, archiving and exhibition installation skills. They work with me to create a collection focused exhibition in the month of November that includes research, budget, proposal, community engagement and exhibition design. This experience has allowed them space to grow, not only as a studio arts major, but also cultivate valuable skills to work in a gallery environment as well.

My professional research and daily practice include traditional and innovative ways on how to present object-based study and merge the investigation and continuous experience in making and learning in as many disciplines as possible. I creatively and conceptually connect the lesson/assignment with a clearly defined outcome that is appealing to all students and the community. Outcomes are realized through the use of practical applications that include object study which enable the student’s discovery process.

My curatorial goal is to take a more active leadership role in furthering diversity programming and engagement in the academic gallery setting. I have a strong interest in cultivating the gallery/museum space as a career advancement opportunity, most specifically for those who are historically underrepresented. This would include creating additional programming (directed studies, summer programs, recruitment workshops) and pursuing internal and external funding to support this type of collaboration.