Interviewing Artists: Rose Cull’s Workshop Experience

Blog Post by: Rose Cull, Kress Fellow in Sculpture Conservation, Tate Gallery

I love working with artists.  One reason why I work on contemporary art.  I like learning more about the creative process and seeing how an artist approaches their work, what they think of it, and hopefully over the course of my career, I will be able to build relationships so I will be able to document the ways an artist views will change over time.

Interview exercise at the VoCa Artist Interview Workshop, April 2012

Almost a year ago I attended the VoCA Artist Interview Workshop in Washington, D.C.  It was a great workshop for many reasons.  It put me in contact with numerous stakeholders working with contemporary artists and it taught me skills for effectively interviewing artists.  I had a chance to use those skills yesterday when I consulted with Julianne Swartz about one of her pieces which will be traveling from an exhibit at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

I felt nervous meeting the artist (who wouldn’t?), and I felt like I needed to impress her, I wanted her to like me, I thought, “Are you 14? This isn’t high school. Get a grip Rose, you’re working here. “  I managed to relax and remember my training at the workshop, I let the artist lead the conversation, I spoke about the things I know about, and I learned a lot.  Pat Evans, the registrar at SMoCA attended the VoCA workshop in San Francisco and it was great to work with her because we both knew to let the artist talk and not to try to impress her. (Pat probably already knew this, perhaps I am the only painfully immature professional when I am speaking to someone famous)

The artist was really positive about the conservation work I had done, told me she thought the piece looked great, which felt fantastic.  It is so rare to have that type of affirmation of my work I feel like I will be walking on clouds for the next month.

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