I recently signed on as a volunteer at the Vancouver Art Gallery. It’s been a great way to venture out of my studio to meet new people, share my love for art with children and expand my knowledge of contemporary artists.
Meeting new people
As an artist I spend a great deal of time in my home studio, alone. And although I have over the years met and connected with a lot of other artists (the North Shore is gloriously packed with them) and been a part of the 5enses which has been wonderful, joining the volunteer ranks of the Vancouver Art Gallery has opened a whole new “art” space. I have had to spend many hours going on the tours of the current exhibitions (Muntadas, Charles Edenshaw and Kimsooja) with incredibly interesting and knowledgeable docents and tour guides. Each of them come from different backgrounds so offer different perspectives on the exhibitions, crafting stories about the artists based on their extensive readings. As well, the other volunteers I have trained with and my superiors have been helpful and so welcoming.
Share my love of art with children
My position as a tour liason at the gallery is essentially support for the docents and the workshops in which the children participate. From my perspective though it also offers a wonderful bonus. I welcome the teachers’ and facilitate the school groups’ organization for their tour with a docent, and then aid the “Animatour” with the workshop she runs later with the class. My extra help seems to be both necessary and welcome. The bonus for me, however, is following on their tours and watching how the docents interact, engage and draw out the children to come to understand the exhibition, the artist, their stories and their histories. Hearing what children have to say, watching them pick up on details or discoveries about the exhibition is so enriching! And then in the workshops, creative sparks fly and ideas swirl as the young minds play with themes and paint. It is so inspiring!
Expand my knowledge
The third wonderful byproduct of working at the Gallery caught me a bit by surprise. I’ve been a member of the Art Gallery for many years and enjoyed many of their exhibitions, however I have mostly visited the shows that I thought would be interesting, mostly painters, or well-known masters. As part of my volunteer training, however, I have to participate in tours of all the shows. As such I have been reconsidering, rethinking and reevaluating. I find myself connected to Kimsooja’s belief in “comprehensive totality” whereby she challenges the artificial divide between art and everyday experience. I am blown away by the extensive influence Charles Edenshaw has had on First Nations carving and his incredible ability to adapt to his environment. And I am intrigued by Muntadas’ fascination of the “in between” and his “warning” that perception requires involvement.
I am so happy I made the choice to undertake this volunteering!