The first alumni spotlight of this school year is Jeremiah Myers. Jeremiah worked at the Kennedy Museum of Art for his whole time as a bobcat, now he works in the education department at the Cleveland Museum of Art. He gives a great perspective on how working in all parts of the Kennedy has helped him in his career after graduation.
First, please introduce yourself and give us some background information on who you are and what you do.
My name is Jeremiah, and for nearly a decade I have been teaching in art museums. Currently, I am a Gallery Teacher at the Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland, Ohio. I craft and facilitate gallery learning experiences for PreK-12 youth, inviting learners to develop their visual literacy skills, to strengthen and unlock their creativity, and hope they feel wonder and welcomed inside the museum’s galleries. I have previously been a museum educator at the Dayton Art Institute, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Kennedy Museum of Art. When I am not working, I enjoy being outdoors, cooking for my friends, or discovering new breweries.
When did you work at the Kennedy and what did you do during your time here? What was your area of study at the university and when did you graduate?
I did a little of everything during my years at the Kennedy. I started working as a research assistant in the curatorial department, working on exhibitions. By the time I left OU I had transitioned into the education department as a programs assistant, leading tours. I started as a freshman and worked there my entire college career. I studied art history, minored in studio art, and was a part of the inaugural museum studies cohort before graduating in 2015.
What experiences have you had with the Kennedy Museum of Art? Do you have any favorite memories from your time at the museum?
Because I had worked in different departments, I had a unique experience. My experiences ranged from researching art, maintaining and caring for the collection, to presenting tours to PreK-12 youth, families, and college students. I grew generally as a museum worker and found and developed my passion for museum education.
Some of my favorite memories are working with contemporary artists Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. and Melanie Yazzie when the education team developed programs for students around their artwork.
How would you describe your creative process? Alternatively, how would you describe your professional activities.
As a museum educator, my creative process looks different than an artist’s. I communicate with teachers who I plan to work with, keep updated on new exhibitions and recent acquisitions to the CMA’s collection, and research contemporary education and museum education theory. I also try to seek professional development opportunities by attending conferences and webinars given by AAM [American Alliance of Museums] and NAEA [National Art Education Association]. These activities all shape a gallery experience for the students I engage with.
Who/What inspires you?
Working in museum education, my days never look the same – sometimes that’s great and other times not so much. But, when I am not in the galleries or online teaching, I work with a group of classroom educators who have a fellowship with the museum during the school year. The year ends with a culminating project. Their projects must have some connection to the art found in CMA’s collection. They are working with the collection sometimes for the first time, so they are seeing works from a different perspective. Listening to how they incorporate art into their lessons or just hearing their passion for teaching inspires me.
In your experience what roles do museums play in their communities? How do you think the community benefits from the museum?
Especially after this year and a half plus, I think museums can be places of respite. The pandemic has shown that this can be accomplished in-person and virtually. As a museum educator who works closely with PreK-12 groups, museums serve to support curriculum taught in the classroom. I love working with groups and hearing connections they are making between the classroom and a work of art.
How have your experiences of working either with one or multiple academic museums helped you give back to your community?
I loved working in academic museums! Their missions go beyond the university community and into the larger community. When I worked at PAFA, they had a school and community partnership program with schools in North Philadelphia. They partner with the school and surrounding community, facilitating art making projects. I am so glad to have been a very small piece, but I learned so much about how to develop true partnerships with communities.
What is your favorite object that is a part of a museum’s collection? Feel free to pick one from the Kennedy’s collection, a different collection, or both. Why?
There are so many favorites! But one of my favorite memories is teaching with the Southwest Native American Collection, specifically the Navajo weavings. The Second Phase Chief Blanket always stands out. Teaching with that object opened so many doors for conversations with students about the function of the piece, patterns, and of course the stinky cochineal bugs used to dye the red wool.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
My time at the Kennedy was truly magical! I am very grateful to have met friends and thought partners, who I still talk with today. I hope current students (in any major) are taking full advantage of the programs the KMA offers. It’s been a while since my last visit to Athens, but I hope to be back exploring the galleries soon!
To learn more about the Kennedy Art Museum please check out our website 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 our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/KennedyMuseumofArt .
Tristen Luken, Academic Programs Assistant