January 23, 2018
Professional experience is just an internship away.
By Karen Sandstrom
What do drawings and spreadsheets have in common? As Cleveland Institute of Art student Joey Goergen ’18 found out last spring, you need both to mount a group exhibition featuring five artists and 300 pieces of art.
“I had to inventory all of those,” Goergen said. “Most artists probably cringe at the word Excel, but you know, you got to do it.”
Goergen’s exhibition, Thought Vacation, opened to a big crowd April 21, 2017 at the Popeye Gallery at the 78th Street Studios in Cleveland. Goergen and fellow artists had the chance to see how their work played off each other in a gallery. And they sold lots of art.
None of that could have happened without good old-fashioned paperwork. “I think that with being a professional artist, there are days where I will sit for hours on end sending e-mails and writing proposals,” said Goergen, who is double majoring in Drawing and Printmaking.
That’s one of the lessons he will take from his experience as one of seven students who had 2017 Creativity Works internships. The program was created to empower juniors with a studio-arts focus to plan a show or community art project while working with an outside partner and being guided by faculty. For four years, Creativity Works has been funded by the Fenn Education Fund of the Cleveland Foundation, which provided a modest budget that students can use for materials and promotions. Over the next five years, the program will be partially supported by the G. R. Lincoln Family Foundation.
As spring semester begins, a new Community Works cohort is planning the artwork they’ll make while they search for partners and venues, think about their budget, and learn to market their final event.
Typically, Creativity Works interns are Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Sculpture + Expanded Media, Ceramics, Glass, and Jewelry + Metals majors. Those students tend to have fewer internship opportunities than applied-arts majors to earn internship credits by doing work that relates directly to what they want to do after they graduate.
Seth Nagelberg, chair of the Ceramics and Glass departments, is an academic project leader for the program.
“Students are working hard to hone the skills they will need to be practicing artists,” he says. “They are simultaneously building their conceptual ability and technical skills. Creativity Works students are connecting with galleries and organizations outside of school. So they are adding communication, planning and marketing to their skill set. These are the skills they will need to make the leap from the confines of their studio to being professional artists.”
With Creativity Works, we can make that happen and help along the way.”
Orlando Caraballo’s internship began with joining the Morgan Conservatory, a Cleveland institution dedicated to the preservation of papermaking and paper arts. He practiced a variety of techniques for pulling paper, and learned the process of “painting” with colored pulp. “It was a really nice crossover between my drawing and the actual technical aspects of papermaking,” Caraballo said.
But his original motivation for seeking the internship was to have a solo exhibition. Eventually he arranged for a show of 17 drawings, Dreams of Becoming, to go on view at Newsense Enterprises, a gallery space in the home of Kristin Rogers, the art education manager at Progressive Art Collection.
“I'd never seen all my work together, and never been able to allow it to have this conversation among itself. Because [in school], it’s like one-offs and critiques,” he said. “And I wanted all these pieces to form a conversation with each other that the viewer can be a part of.”
Caraballo and Goergen joined other interns in fall 2017 to present a Lunch on Fridays talk to juniors who were thinking about applying for the 2018 program.
Some of the students voiced concern that it seems strange or selfish to try to mount a gallery show for their own work. Goergen encourages friends to think of it in different terms: People genuinely want to see their work.
Besides, he says, “That's what you're going to do for a living.”