ASC Spring Service Project: Patricia M. Menendez

The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at FIU

STUDENT BIO

Photo by Alexis Castillo.

My name is Patricia M. Menendez, and I am a junior at Florida International University pursuing a B.S. in Digital Communication and Media and a B.A. in Sustainability and the Environment. In the near future I hope to be working with an environmental-based company that educates and enlightens the public through a multimedia platform. Through this course, I hope to enhance my creative side and gain more knowledge not only about the world of art but its role in shaping and documenting societal progression. I believe that this course will help me decipher the environment (or society) my work will take me to, as well as help me capture its essence.

WHO

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Taken from Florida International University Flickr.

The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University is considered to be one of the largest academic art museums in South Florida. Its mission is “to provide transformative experiences through art; collect, exhibit, and interpret art across cultures; and advance FIU’s stature as a top tier research university.”

Since its opening in 2008, the museum has been dedicated to providing free access to art from a variety of cultures and time periods to its surrounding community. Its permanent collection currently includes over 6,000 objects, ranging from photography, ceramics, prints, and contemporary works from Latin-American and Caribbean countries. The museum also strives to showcase artwork from around the globe in its exhibitions, sometimes even including the work from established local artists.

Aside from its artistic stance, the museum also provides an educational opportunity for the FIU community, serving as the University’s main source for the study and appreciation of the visual arts.

During my time as a volunteer for the museum, I had the pleasure of working with and reporting directly to Amy Galpin, Ph.D., the museum’s chief curator.

WHY

I selected this specific remote volunteering opportunity due to the fact that I have visited and always enjoyed seeing the Frost Art Museum’s exhibitions. The museum was also one of the very few institutions offering remote volunteering opportunities during the Coronavirus pandemic. So when the opportunity came about I was more than happy to volunteer for them and help in any way I could.

In addition, since I have learned so much through Professor Bailly’s Art Society Conflict class and my professional work with Cortada Projects, artist Xavier Cortada’s social practice, I was intrigued by the opportunity and what else I could learn about the art world. Coincidentally my volunteer work involved the development of social media content for the museum’s accounts, which related to my major – Digital Communication and Media.

HOW

After learning about the opportunity from Professor Bailly, I messaged my classmate Ruth Shmueli, who was the first to accept it and had been volunteering for the Frost Art Museum for some time. I asked her if she could put me in contact with Galpin and ask if there was a possibility that I could also volunteer with the museum. Fortunately, after a few emails, Galpin said that she was more than happy to hear about my request and had some tasks that she would like me to do for her.

WHERE & WHAT

On Sunday, April 10 I researched the Frost Art Museum itself. I learned about the museum’s mission, history, collection and purpose. I delve into the museum’s past exhibitions, current exhibitions and upcoming exhibitions to get a sense of the work they display and the themes they include. In addition, I looked through their social media accounts to see what type of content they post in order to see how I can build upon their current work.

On Wednesday, April 15 I browsed through the museum’s digital collection. I looked through each image of every artwork and those that intrigued me the most I recorded on a Google spreadsheet. Out of a total of 2,367 objects, 18 struck my interest. Then, on Thursday, April 16 I drafted five social media posts on five of those objects for Galpin to review. My posts ranged from content that involved a serious and personal interpretation of the artwork to funny commentary to questions related to the work. In addition to the five posts, I also sent Galpin a list of objects I was interested in researching for their collection’s records. Galpin helped me narrow my options to one, Maggie Davis’ painting “Earth – Take It Away Mankind” (1971).

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“Earth – Take It Away Mankind” by Maggie Davis (1971). Taken from the Frost Art Museum’s Digital Collection.

After receiving the green light by Galpin to research Davis’ piece, I began to research the artist and her artwork on Saturday, April 18. Due to the age of the piece and the fact that it was gifted to the museum by Ruth and Richard Shack, it was very difficult to find. However, after much digging I found a similar piece in the artist’s portfolio, which was featured on her site (maggiedavisart.com). Based on the artist’s site and several articles, I wrote a four page research paper on Davis and the piece for the museum’s records.

WHEN

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SUMMARY

After a week of remote volunteering with the Frost Art Museum, I was surprised at how much I learned about the institution itself, its collection, and abstract art. My volunteering experience not only taught me about a museum that I could easily access as a student and as a member of the South Florida community, but also its diverse collection. While browsing the museum’s digital collection I learned about the many cultures, genres, mediums and time periods they have. From my research on the piece “Earth – Take It Away Mankind” I learned about an Atlanta-based abstract artist who leaves her artwork’s meaning and interpretation open-ended and up to the viewer. I also learned more about abstraction and the creative process of an abstract artist.

My time as a remote volunteer for the Frost Art Museum was very rewarding, organized and efficient. Chief Curator Amy Galpin was very helpful, understanding and communicative throughout my entire volunteering experience. Because Galpin gave me tasks that were related to my major she helped me strengthen my skillset as a digital communicator and creator. She also gave me the opportunity to learn more about the art world and help a great institution.

I highly recommend that FIU students volunteer with the Frost Art Museum. The staff takes into consideration your major, time and interests. They are not only looking to see how you can help them, but also how they can help you.

CITATIONS

Florida International University – Digital Communications. “About.” Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum | Florida International University, frost.fiu.edu/about/index.html.

Florida International University – Digital Communications. “Digital Collections: Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum: Florida International University.” Digital Collections | Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum | Florida International University, collections.frost.fiu.edu/browse.aspx?dir=FROST.

“Maggie Davis Art.” Maggiedavisart.com: Home, maggiedavisart.com/.

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