Spring 2020

Featured image: In January we added a studio component to our collaborative programming with medical students and faculty as part of the Open Book Project in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. Pictured: Sharon Casapulla and students.

Spring 2020 began with the long-awaited opening of the exhibition Pattern & Disruption: Diné Lifeways and Embedded Mathematics. This two-year project marks many important things for KMA as a cultural resource in our community: it reaffirms the commitment to the importance of voice when embracing the honor of caring for and interpreting culturally specific collections, it acknowledges a dedication to experiencing the arts within the context of multiple discipline areas, and it renews the belief in engaging community in a shared space of dialogue that includes our student interns and class visits as well as the general public.

Clcik here to view Behind-the-Scenes Blog Post

Early Spring also marked KMA’s continuing collaboration with the Open Book Project, an elective component within the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine focusing on narrative medicine. We have been honored to physically share this experience with students and faculty in our Visual Literacy Gallery on the Athens campus and continue to participate in the virtual Summer Open Book Series with all three HCOM campuses: Athens, Dublin and Cleveland. Click here more information on the Open Book Project.

Open Book Project participants engage in a studio activity after discussing the mixed media piece Green Door by artist Burhan Doğançay.

In March we saw the entire world change and pivot to new ways of engaging with each other as we faced the coronavirus pandemic. In April we changed our annual Emerging Artists installation to an online exhibition and shared select pieces from KMA collections through social media’s #MuseumMomentofZen as a way to provide solace in the contemplation of the visual.

David Hockney, Steps with Shadow, colored paper pulp, 1978
Hiro Yokose, Untitled #1171 &  #1166, encaustic on linen, 1995

In late May the world was shocked into an awareness that many of us had become numb to, or suppressed, not registered, or just not acknowledged. It took a horrifying eight minutes and 46 seconds to peel back the layer of another pandemic, one of systemic racism, and to jolt us into what it means to use our voice for change. The conversation is only getting started. As we share this in mid-June, quickly issued statements have been recognized as lacking at best and damaging at worst. This is the time of year that museum professionals are gathering (virtually) in annual conference sessions and we share two recent conversations from the field:

June 3, 2020 American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting (held virtually): Racism, Unrest and the Role of the Museum Field

June 11, 2020 Cuseum webinar: Striving Towards an Equitable Future: Addressing Systemic Injustice as a Cultural Organization

In May we also hired new student PACE (Program to Aid Career Exploration) interns, who will join us in August, be it physically or virtually. We are excited to affirm our role as an academic museum with a teaching mission and to add the voices of eight new undergraduate students to our KMA team. Stay tuned for more information on this new group of student staff.

Our current Museum Experiences team has continued to work on projects through the end of this month, researching content for OHIO class visits in the Fall, surveying our K-12 partners for feedback on ways to expand our virtual resources, and creating an activity guide that supports collaborative programming with the Ohio Museum Complex and the importance of place-based educational activities:

VEGETAL DYES Inspired by plants from the Navajo Nation and Southeast Ohio

We would like to end on a note that acknowledges our commitment as part of the museum field to the engagement with museums throughout a lifetime. Education staff completed social engagement training this year with the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cincinnati in order to facilitate a new program for adults with memory loss and their caregivers called “Memories in the Museum.” Our first onsite programs were postponed due to Covid-19 and we look forward to re-engaging this initiative.

As a final highlight to our Spring 2020 activities we recognize our youngest visitors to KMA. We have an ongoing relationship with Athens Head Start, who visited twice this year, and we have expanded our collaborations with the OHIO Child Development Center (CDC). Located within walking distance of KMA, CDC children and teachers are regular visitors to our galleries. We shifted planned visual literacy workshops with teachers to virtual mode and developed three virtual visual literacy programs this month with Allison Draper and Katie Meeks’ class and their parents.

PACE interns Rachel Broughton(R) and Jess Minarchek (M) facilitate gallery discussions with Athens Head Start visits.
Top Left: OHIO Child Development Center

As we look forward to the various scenarios that may play out when KMA opens again to the public, it is with mixed feelings that we say farewell to our colleague Jeff Carr who is retiring at the end of this month. We wish Jeff all the best in the next phase of his life adventure and we acknowledge how very much he will be missed at KMA!

Exhibitions and Collections Manager Jeff Carr meeting with OHIO students in the collections vault.