ASC Service Project 2020 : Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum by Ruth Shmueli

Photo Credit : Claudia Farnias

About the author

My name is Ruth Shmueli and I am a Junior studying International Business and Management at Florida International University. My goal is to help media/publishing companies expand and grow into international markets. I love exploring different cultures through food, art, and by interacting with people. I am passionate about traveling, art, photography, and culinary arts. Photography is the main way that I express myself creatively. The purpose of my photography is to make it possible for other people to view the world from a new perspective. I believe that the world is not black and white, and being able to expose the grey areas in my photography is essential to the perception of the world around us.

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Photo credit: WorldRedEye/ Alejandro Chavarria

WHO

I volunteered at the Patricia and Phillip frost art museum commonly known as the Frost Art Museum. The Frost Art Museum is a staple in Miami community located on Florida International University’s Modesto Maidique Campus by scenic lake and a Miami favorite, Vicky’s café. The Frost Art Museum was founded in 1977 and has since become the largest art museum in a public institution in South Florida. The museum houses a variety of exhibitions but mainly focuses on contemporary and international art. There are exhibitions from different art movements that make a point of celebrating the culture and the meaning behind the art. The Frost Art Museum also hosts a variety of community events, engages local students and supports Florida International University students in their endeavors.

WHY

I personally go to the Frost Art Museum very often. I always go to the exhibition openings with friends to see the new art displayed. It is great to go to the museum with others because you get new perspectives on the interpretations of art. The Frost Art Museum has really become a part of FIU’s culture and contributes greatly to the creative environment on campus. As a student who lives on campus, the museum has really become a place where students can come together to explore new concepts from the comfort of their campus. The Frost museum also engages with the community which is something that I believe adds tremendous value to an academic/ art institution. I had previously attended the Frost Family Day which was centered around involving children in the art space and creating a fun event for families to come together. Organizations like The Girlkind Project were invited to participate in the Frost Family Day. The Girlkind Project is an organization whose purpose is to uplift and empower girls throughout their childhood.

I specifically chose to participate in conducting research the upcoming exhibition House to House because it related to my passion of photography and it involved displaying and celebrating strong women. I have also had experience in doing research for an international law firm and a renewable energy company so I felt that I would be able to contribute to this volunteering project in a constructive way.

HOW

Due to the coronavirus pandemic it is imperative that we participate in social distancing, but also its important to still be able to contribute to your community during difficult times. Professor John Bailly connected me with Amy Galpin, the chief curator of the Frost Art Museum to participate in a remote volunteering opportunity. From there Amy and I spoke together on how my volunteering would look like and what I would be participating in. I proceeded to do research for the upcoming “House to House: women, politics, and place” exhibition.

WHERE & WHAT

Due to the fact that that I participated in remote volunteering; it was a bit different than your traditional volunteer opportunity. However, this experience was equally impactful. I curated photographs of woman throughout the ages and collected facts about them. I also created a fact sheet about woman’s rights, statistics and some other fun and interesting information about woman.

Deborah Willis, Carrie at Eatonville Salon, 2009-10, C-Print, Courtesy of the artist

April 3: After speaking with Amy, I had a choice to assist in different upcoming exhibitions. The one I chose is called “House to House: women, politics, and place”. This exhibition explores the metaphor of two different “houses” in the context of place. One house that woman have historically dominated is the domestic house, while the house that woman are increasingly dominating is the political and public sphere. This exhibition will mark the 100-year anniversary for woman’s right to vote. The multimedia exhibition will show women in both domestic and public settings showing the power in each place. Some of the artist being displayed includes work by Aurora Molina, Catherine Opie, Martha Rosler, Laurie Simmons, Mickalene Thomas, and Deborah Willis, and many more. It is important that with the increasing awareness to woman’s right, that artists keep the momentum going by creating powerful art to grapple varying topics.

Photo Credit: Ansel Adams

After thoroughly researching the exhibition I began curating the images and collecting the facts about the woman being included. The research I did will highly affect the exhibition visitors knowledge of the topic. The information gathered will be showed to the attendees as a reference.  I was tasked with curating photographs of powerful woman, citing the photographs and creating a short description of each woman. I began by looking for powerful and impactful woman from today’s day and age. I included women like Sheryl Sandberg, Opra Winfrey, Ana Wintour, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Georgia O’Keefe. I wanted representation from women around the world as well as women in different industries. I believe that power does not only derive from positions of power in politics and business. So, I included artists, activists, scientists, athlete and authors. Power comes in varying forms and it comes to the people that utilize their specialized skills. For example, Georgia O’keefe was an American artist who painted flowers that were very reminiscent of the female form. A celebration of the female body was never seen portrayed in this was and it became something powerful, because a female artist was taking control of the narrative of the female body. Another woman I included that I greatly admire is Ana Wintour. Ana Wintour is the fashion icon who serves as the editor-in-chief for Vogue and the Artistic Director of Conde Nast. Both are magazines possess a large influence in the fashion world and in the luxury tourism industry. Ana Wintour’s reach and influence is also a perfect example of power. As I continued curating the portraits, I noticed that all the photographs had many colors, highlights and shadows that clashed with each other, so I chose to make all the photographs black and white to give it a sense of uniformity.

Photo Credit : Sebastian Boettcher

April 8: I then spoke to Amy check in with her about my findings. After we spoke Amy gave suggestions on how we can expand on the research to make it more impactful. The research was separated into “Women’s Firsts” and the Woman of Today”. I organized it in a way that presented the title “The first…” for the section that included the first woman to accomplish a certain feat in history. The second section was titled “…But Not The Last” I then proceeded to include women with current achievements who may not have been the first, but have had a significant impact and possess power in different forms. After doing more research about women’s firsts I wanted to include more woman with very varied expertise and accomplishments. Some of them included women like, Zaha Hadid, Junko Tabei, Alice Walker, and Madam CJ Walker. I was particularly fascinated by Zaha Hadid and Junko Tabei. Zaha Hadid is an Iraqi-British Architect and is the first woman to  receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize. I began looking into her work and was amazed by the beautiful architecture of the buildings she designed. Every building she designed had a personality of its own with its own splendor and grandeur. Another woman that really inspired me was Junko Tabei. Junko Tabei was the first woman to summit Mt Everest. I am personally a very outdoorsy and adventurous person so hearing Junko’s accomplishments moved me and motivated me.

Another aspect of the research project that Amy expanded on was including facts about woman that can help educate visitors. I found facts ranging from a variety of topics, but most were centered around woman’s rights.  Many of the facts that I included were focused on creating awareness while others were empowering facts about women. My favorite quote is “Over 60 percent of college degrees awarded in the U.S. every year are earned by women.” This shows how much women value an education and work hard to become the majority in the workforce.

April 17: We then spoke again to go over all the progress of the research project. It was great working with Amy because she gave a proper amount of guidance for the expectations of the research, but allowed for me to take creative liberties to enhance the project.

WHEN

SUMMARY

This remote volunteering experience taught me a great deal, even though it was not the traditional form of volunteering.  This experience showed how adequate communication leads to a successful project and a good research experience. Utilizing phone call conversations over email conversations, I believe has been vital to creating the professional connection with Amy, formulating ideas and helping set expectations. Things can be properly communicated over the phone rather than email so I believe that this was something that greatly enhanced the experience.

Throughout the time that I was curating the photos I realized that I had to be mindful of the highlights and contrast of photos when I was converting them into a black and white photographs. I needed to make sure that the photographs were not too dark/ light in areas and that there was a balanced aesthetic among the photographs. I think that converting the photographs to black and white helped give a balanced effect. After presenting the idea to Amy she agreed and I proceeded to move forward with that format.

I believe the most impactful thing that I gained from this experience was expanding my knowledge of female leaders and putting our current social progress in perspective of its historical context. I was surprised to see that movements for women’s rights had taken place not as long ago as I would have initially thought. It always seems like such a far away time in history but in actuality its recent history. Its inspiring to see all the powerful woman throughout the ages and the impact they’ve done. This whole exhibition aims to show the power struggle with what a house or place a woman should dominate. For some, that’s as a pillar in their homes to provide for their family and for others. For other women their place is in a position of power and change. No matter what your personal choice is, if you do it with strength and grace you are the powerful woman that is driving history forward with your impact on the world.  I’m really looking forward to attending the opening of the exhibition and celebrating the art by all the amazing artists.

CITATIONS

Florida International University – Digital Communications. “House to House.” Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum | Florida International University, frost.fiu.edu/exhibitions-events/events/2020/09/house-to-house.html.

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