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Enhancing the Artistic Experience

December 7, 2015

Elise Armani kicked off her freshman year focusing on studio art, but later discovered she also wanted to study gender, women, and sexuality studies. She met with an advisor to declare her second major and to ask how both majors might inform one another. Her advisor referred her to Howard Oransky, director of the Katherine E. Nash Gallery.

Oransky invited Elise to serve as a student liaison for the gallery’s exhibit, "Covered in Time and History: the Films of Ana Mendieta." From the 1970s to the early 1980s, Cuban-American artist Ana Mendieta created art that explored gender and politics. Mendieta died in 1985, but her work has continued to influence artists ever since. As a liaison for the Ana Mendieta exhibit, Elise strategized methods that the gallery could use to market their exhibit to undergraduate students and blogged about Mendieta’s films (and her performances within the films).

Collecting materials to research Mendieta and review her works steered Elise towards curating a second, companion exhibition that highlighted Ana Mendieta’s story and life experiences. Elise’s exhibition, called "Ana Mendieta: Documents of a Life in Art," provides context for the films showcased in the Katherine E. Nash Gallery. Through a UROP grant, Elise also created a catalog to reference each case.  Her exhibition was displayed in the T.R. Anderson Gallery through December.

To create her exhibit, Elise located and collected materials about Mendieta’s life: photographs, newspaper articles, books, essays, and letters. She even received permission from artists to showcase work they had created in tribute to Mendieta. “There’s no way I would have been able to do this at a smaller, private college,” Elise says. Both exhibits opened in September and will run through December 12.

Now, as a junior, Elise has finished her project, but she is still heavily involved with museum work. Currently she works at the Weisman as a student representative, as administrative staff, and is an officer in the Weisman Art Collective. “I’m trying to break into the museum scene if that’s not obvious,” Elise says.

Elise said she’s taking a break on exhibitions, but she’s not finished yet. She’s already planning to curate an exhibit in spring 2017.

In the future, Elise hopes to attend graduate school in either museum studies or art administration. She feels that creating this exhibit not only complemented her multidisciplinary education but that it also taught her important life skills like researching, cataloging documents, corresponding, and negotiating with museums. “I want to get involved in an art museum and see where that takes me.”

This story was written by an undergraduate student account executive in CLAgency. Meet the team.