For this month’s ”Ohio University Kennedy Alumni,” we are spotlighting Greg Aukerman. Greg graduated from OU in 2006 and took his experiences from the Kennedy Museum of Art into his career. Not only does he have experience in the world of art, but he has also traveled down other roads as well!
First, please introduce yourself and give us some background information on who you are and what you do.
I’m Greg. Museum junkie. Problem fixer. Girl dad. Dungeon master. Serial wanderer. I graduated from OU in 2006 and defied all expectations by taking Art History and Sociology degrees and turning them into a job at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Career, life and economy played a sort of interlude between then and now and after some time in the IT world and market research, I find myself as the director of online communities for a large church in Cincinnati called Crossroads.
If you are an artist, how would you describe your creative process? Alternatively, how would you describe your professional activities.
I wouldn’t say I’m an artist, but I do paint. Mostly small things, literally. 28mm scale models of tiny space men. It’s a wonderful hobby, but my true “art” output has fallen off in the last several years. Something about becoming a parent and pushing for career success, who knows?
The closest thing I do professionally now that I equate to art is writing group experiences for people. Lots of people. Right now, thousands of people at Crossroads are going through something called a Journey. It’s a five week program where a person watches a video message, does some mindful, reflective work on their own, and then gets with a group of a few people to process and talk through what they’re thinking.
Creating something like that with a consistent metaphor, uniform voice, and engaging exercises requires a willingness to write, rewrite, test, rewrite, scrap it all, start over again, and then…you have a decent first draft.
How has COVID-19 impacted your creative process, career, or education?
Well that Journey thing you just read about? It needed to be all online this year at a scale larger than ever. (Read, tens of thousands) The nuance of writing questions that translated well online to all demographics is tricky. I’m sure we’ve all experienced how hollow online conversation can feel since there isn’t a ton of body language, communicating emotions, or meaning. But, if you write some solid questions for people to tackle, good stuff can happen and it can break through the isolation that a lot of people feel.
Who or what inspires you?
People who have the discipline to keep themselves mentally healthy in month 11 of 2020.
But beyond that, sunny mornings and a good cup of tea is generally the key to inspire me to get up and create something worthwhile.
And if you’re at OU right now, take a class by John Sabraw. He’s without a doubt the best professor I ever had and I tell stories of his classes to this day.
What experiences have you had with the Kennedy Museum of Art?
I worked with Jeff Carr as a preparator. And it was awesome. It’s one of the only roles in a museum where you get to touch things. Jeff taught me fundamentals of art movement and storage, gallery design and installation, lighting and framing. (There is a part of me that wants to run a quiet framing shop someday).
I don’t recall specific exhibitions (and I didn’t get to explore the Ridges as much as I’d like) but it was a place that taught me how to work and how to think about museums and design.
How have your experiences at the Kennedy impacted you?
It got me my first job out of college as a preparator at the Cincinnati Art Museum. That’s what started my career and it’s something I’m continually grateful for. It also cemented a love of museums. Not just their collections, but their operations and the care and calling that the people who work inside their walls feel.
What role do you believe an academic museum like the Kennedy plays in a community like Athens? How do you think the community benefits from the museum?
I think they’re incredible places of learning, inspiration and peace. And they’re incredibly underutilized. Maybe it’s because people don’t know about them, or don’t know their value, but I’d love to see crowded local museums.
Is there a piece or artifact in the Kennedy’s collection that is your favorite? Why?
The silver gel prints of the civil rights movement need to be seen. Do yourself a favor, if they are on display, take a trip.
To learn more about the Kennedy Art Museum please check out our virtual portal at https://www.ohio.edu/museum. Here you can check out our collection and current exhibitions. To check out other blog posts go to https://kennedymuseum.blog. Finally, feel free to follow us on Instagram at @KennedyMuseumArtEdu or Twitter at @KennedyMuseum. We also have a Facebook page titled Kennedy Museum of Art Experiences Group.