A diversity of experience leads to curatorial success
April 3, 2020
I graduated from the Art Department at Appalachian State in 2013 with degrees in Studio Art and Arts Management, and I tacked on a minor in Statistics, as well. After completing a curatorial internship at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I came back to the High Country when I was hired as the Exhibitions & Collections Coordinator at the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum. The museum was really new at the time, having only opened in 2011, and I arrived there in 2014. This put me in a great position to help the museum grow and for myself to grow along with it. I now serve as the Curator of Exhibitions & Collections Director there, and today, the museum is well recognized and appreciated in our community. Having the opportunity to work with a team of creative people to help a young museum get on its feet is a very rewarding and humbling feeling, especially this early in my career.
My experience at Appalachian State really helped place me where I am in my career today. I started gathering as much experience as I could as early as my freshman year. I worked as a Gallery Assistant at both the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in town, as well as the Smith Gallery on campus. I also served as the student curator of the Looking Glass Gallery in the Student Union for over three years. Before my internship at MoMA, I completed two other internships in my hometown of Greensboro, NC: one at the Green Hill Center for NC Art as a curatorial intern, and the other as a creative intern at the Elsewhere Artist Collaborative. My professors and peers made me aware of all the kinds of opportunities that were available to me as a student, and I jumped at the chance to get all the experience I possibly could.
In a way, I really constructed my own unique experience as a student in the Art Department. As an artist, I explored traditional drawing and expanded this practice towards experimentation with fibers, installation, and video. This kind of work informed my understanding of exhibition installation and supporting an artists creative practices. It was interesting to develop my own work in the studio, and then move into a gallery space and work alongside another artist installing their work. I’ve become really grateful for the diversity of experiences I had, but also the ways in which they complimented one another.
Looking back now, if I had to give myself any advice as a student, it would actually be to take a breath and enjoy the details once in a while. I had a very linear perspective of how my career would be established and grow, and i’ve learned since graduating that there’s so many unexpected parts of life that can quickly cause things to change direction. It’s important to be adaptable and open minded, and to know that more opportunities will always come your way. As someone who spent so many years charging forward, I’ve learned the hard way that taking moments to pause doesn’t necessarily put you behind. Sometimes, it makes you more present.
~ Dianna Cameron