You can be a roaring success in the art world without ever picking up a paint brush.
That’s the message three women with high powered careers on the state’s art scene told a crowd of students at a March 29 forum sponsored by Kean’s Art History department.
The panel for the forum “Careers In the Art World’’ included Christa Clarke, senior curator for Arts of Africa and the Americas at Newark Museum; Paula Long, Arts Coordinator at the Union County Cultural and Heritage office and a 1998 Kean alumna; and Yadira Hernandez Naranjo, Exhibitions Associate at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey and a 2010 Kean alumna.
The panel session was moderated by Lewis Kachur, an Associate Professor in Kean’s Fine Arts Department.
In her comments, Long, the county arts coordinator, said it’s imperative for arts majors to volunteer. She recalled volunteering at NJPAC and Newark Museum during her time in college.
“It really looks good on your resumé,’’ she said.
As an arts administrator, Long explained that she works closely with social agencies within the county –mainly non-profits—to provide exposure to the arts for seniors, children and others.
“I believe in the power that the arts have in aiding social issues,’’ she said. “I also do a lot of advocacy for the arts, which I think is important. I encourage people to whom we dole out grants to reach out to legislators and tell them how much the arts are needed.’’
Christa Clarke said she had no idea what a curator was when she was a college student. Once she did find out how intriguing it was she decided to pursue a masters and a doctorate in art history.
“A curator has a love of working with objects, figuring things out and doing research to explain the art work,’’ Clarke told the audience. “I love the idea of opening up new worlds. Working in a museum allows me to reach a wider audience, from 4-year-olds to 90-year-olds.’’
As a curator, Clarke said her wide ranging job allows her the opportunity to catalogue and classify objects for display the museum, meet with contemporary artists and discuss their work, and help train and educate docents and tour guides at the museum.
“The exciting part of the job is working with the various art collections,’’ she said.
Naranjo, the exhibitions associate, told the students that sharpening their research skills would benefit them best.
“That’s what helped me out the most, the ability to problem solve and investigate,’’ she said.