Alexandra Field - AEMM Student - Visual Arts Management
Alexandra is no stranger to the arts community. In fact, before transferring to Columbia in 2011 from California, she had already worked as a studio manager for a community arts organization, as well as for many not for profit organizations. Alexandra works at the Museum of Contemporary Photography and has curated a show at the Hokin. Now in her last semester, Alexandra opens up about her time at Columbia and her plans after graduation.Tell us about your job at MoCP. How has AEMM aided you in these endeavors?
I am the Audience Development Coordinator Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Photography. My position has many facets, but two of the more important aspects are supporting our manager of development and managing all aspects of social media. My job also entails the management of both the physical and online museum store and various administrative tasks such as accounting and event management. Many of the classes in the AEMM curriculum have immensely helped prepare me for any number of daily tasks I encounter. My accounting and finance classes obviously help me with numerous administrative and accounting responsibilities, but there are many other classes that have taught me the skills necessary to be good at my job. However, the most important thing I have received from my experience within the AEMM program is confidence. Through the practicum-based classes, I gained the confidence to properly execute any task and the willingness to try things that might be unfamiliar or intimidating.
How has Columbia, and the AEMM department, helped prepare you for the next step in your career?
Much like my job at MoCP, AEMM has given me a great toolbox from which to draw from. I have concrete and applicable skills that set me apart from the crowd. Rather than simply study a topic, AEMM has allowed me to actually practice these skills in a real world environment. These experiences have also given me the confidence to reach a little bit higher and make bigger and better goals for myself. As cheesy as it sounds, I discovered a new “me” that I did not think was possible, as an AEMM student.
Tell us about the show your curated at the Hokin.
This was by far one of the most challenging aspects of my time as a student at Columbia, and ultimately one of the most rewarding. I was able to work through and experience every step in the creation of an exhibition from start to finish. While working with another student previously in the Gallery Management Practicum, I scoured through current exhibitions, kept up with visual art related news, and attended many gallery openings and mfa/bfa shows. The exhibition, Like.Share.Follow: Artists Examine Social Media became an exploration into the ways in which we (society) determine what is private and what is public, through the medium of social media. In the summer of 2012, my extremely talented classmates and I worked through every aspect of the show, from a graphic identity and installation design to budgeting and programming. It was nerve racking knowing that in a few short months, my ideas would be displayed for everyone to see and possibly judge. Ultimately, the show was a complete success because of the fantastic artists, my wonderful team, and the amazing support of many faculty/staff members, especially the facilitator Robert Blandford. I learned so much through this exhibition, especially the importance of collaboration.
What are your plans after graduation?
My experience has been in development, marketing, education, exhibition development and project management. I am specifically interested in working in the world of museums and cultural institutions in a variety of departments. Within that arena, my hope is to work in the area of audience development and engagement, which is a fairly new area within larger institutions. This field combines development, marketing, education and exhibition development, all while focusing on the relationship between the institution and it’s audience. I believe it is crucial that museums pay attention to their audience and allow their wants and needs to influence key decisions within the institution. For me, this is why I am passionate about museums. Art is a great medium from which we can all learn about new worlds, ideas, and even ourselves and because of this, I believe art and in turn cultural institutions, are a great agent for change within society.
Any advice for current students?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A curious mind is a healthy mind. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for more. The resources at Columbia and within AEMM are enormous. From the fantastic teachers and staff to the wonderful centers like MoCP and The Department of Exhibition and Performance Spaces, there are limitless opportunities out there to make that tiny little idea in your head into reality.