Art & Culture

  • Terrill Warrenburg

An Art-Centered Summer: Working in a Contemporary Art Museum, Art Gallery, and Art Studio

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An Art-Centered Summer: Working in a Contemporary Art Museum, Art Gallery, and Art Studio

By Terrill Warrenburg.

As a curatorial intern at the Institute of Contemporary Art this summer, I performed a sundry of activities. Some days I would do more clerical work like editing cover letters and mailing packages. One of my major tasks involved online research to find and purchase specific products and services that the exhibitions required. On other days, I would make architectural layouts and models of the ICA and small-scale artworks so the curators and artists could arrange the elements of the exhibition on a smaller scale before the show. Additionally, I would make illustrated checklists for exhibitions with images of the work (as well as title, date, medium, dimensions, etc.) Occasionally I looked at the exhibition budgets and analyzed where spending went over or under the allotted budget for a show. I often worked with the ICA archive and looked through old exhibition photos, slides, and catalogues for research requests from other art institutions and for the needs of upcoming shows and publications. The ICA staff is funny, friendly, and helpful. They gave me respect and responsibilities and made me feel like part of the permanent staff. I have learned, grown, and enjoyed my time here so much. I look forward to coming back to work for them in the upcoming semester. I am so thankful to be offered this incredible opportunity and experience.

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    • Barbara Kasten: Stages (2015) at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Photo: Constance Mensh.

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    • Terril Warrenburg reading an art magazine on the ICA mezzanine. Photo: Gina DeCagna.

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    • Barbara Kasten: Stages (2015) at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Photo: Constance Mensh.

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In addition to working at the ICA, I was a part-time intern at  Locks Gallery. I formatted press articles, created checklists, created invitations to openings. My main task was to work on the newly launched website, adding text, selecting images to feature, and inputting data. This internship gave me invaluable first-hand experience working in one of the best galleries in Philadelphia. Locks represents many high profile artists, including Lydia Benglis, Robert Motherwell, Louise Nevelson, Pat Steir, and Robert Rauschenberg. When making checklists and working on the image archive on the new website, I gained a level of familiarity with their artists’ body of work and picked up on subtle stylistic changes throughout its growth. One of my favorite aspects of this internship was when I would meet and interact with well-known artists and role models such as Polly Apfelbaum and Virgil Marti. It is an awesome experience to meet the artists in person whose work you admire and promote. The staff at Locks is also wonderful to work with and the gallery, located in an old publishing house, is an amazing space that enhances the remarkable artwork on display. I am looking forward to possibly returning during the spring semester when my schedule is more flexible.

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    • Nadia Hironaka and Matthew Suib, 1967 (2012). Installation view at Locks Gallery.

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    • Ellen Harvey, Arcade/Arcadia (2011–12). Installation view at Locks Gallery.

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    • Locks Gallery. 

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My last job this summer was as a research assistant for renowned artist and Chair of the Department of Fine Arts in Penn’s School of Design Joshua Mosley. Mosley’s Jeu de Paume stop-motion animation video depicts a tennis match set in 1907 in the Chateau de Fontainebleau in France. This video premiered at the Whitney Biennial in 2014. I started as Joshua’s research assistant in the spring, translating correspondences in French for Joshua’s research. His current project is based in the same tennis court as the Jeu de Paume; in the 1920s–30s, the space was used for L’Ecole des Arts Americaines, a French-run music school for American musicians. I translated letters, reconstruction proposals, receipts, and other documents into English. My main focus was to extract information concerning the large pipe organ, using dimensions from later reconstruction proposals and old photographs to aid Joshua’s construction of a small-scale organ to put in his existing model of the court. This project is still in the research stage, and I am eager to follow its progress and Joshua’s advancements.

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    • Joshua Mosley on the set of Jeu de Paume.

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    • Chateau de Fontainebleau, France.

    • Joshua Mosley 3
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I am blessed to have incredible opportunities like these available to me in my final summer as an undergraduate Fine Arts major at Penn. I am eternally grateful to all of those who have made experiences like these possible. I have learned so much about working in an art museum, gallery, and animation studio. The knowledge I have gained from each of these practices will undoubtedly have a large impact on my own studio practice and future career in the art world. 

Terrill Warrenburg is a Senior Fine Arts Major at Penn and a French as well as an Art History minor. She is the President of the UPenn Art Club and the Director for interviews of the Women in Art Initiative. 

Edited by Mariah Macias.