Getting Closer, From a Distance
Updated: May 28
Josephine Yi is originally from Hamilton, New Jersey, but now makes her home in Austin, Texas. She’s a fourth year English and Elementary Education double major and this is her first year with AGBS. In her own words, she tells us she connects with art.
My connection to art in the time of COVID-19 has, fortunately, been sustained by the online world that abounds with creative inspiration all over. Now more than ever, I have been turning to virtual content, even regularly checking ABGS’s Instagram posts, to fill an emptiness that was once sated by the weekly shifts as a gallery attendant. Although physically being in the gallery space for my job feels like a different, more visceral, experience entirely — the ability to take in scale and details of art which are never adequately captured through a screen, not to mention having each shift accompanied by the music from the In Their Own Form playlist — my work-from-home duties have, in a way, made my interactions with the exhibition more intimate.
Now that my gallery tasks involve writing essay content for the Art Galleries at Black Studies newsletter and other future creative initiatives, I regularly conduct in-depth research into the artists and artworks themselves. Reflecting each week on a new prompt invites me to closely analyze an aspect of our exhibition. With all of the background knowledge I have acquired about our artists and their artworks on display, my understanding and appreciation for them, and the exhibition as a whole, has grown. Because being a gallery attendant means answering questions that guests have about the art, this work-from-home gallery attendant experience is worthwhile preparation for when (hopefully soon) it is time to resume my regular operations at the front desk.
Perhaps what can't be replaced from home, is the closeness and connection I feel from the interactions I have with our patrons--the art scholars and professors, traveling art-appreciators from across the country, and even the curious students who unintentionally happen upon the space.
One of the essay topics I wrote on was about artist Ayana V. Jackson. To me, her piece “Moments of Sweet Reprieve,” currently on display in our gallery, is without a doubt the most entrancing. Knowing what I now know about Jackson’s artistic intentions and practices, I am most eager to reunite with this piece.
Perhaps what can’t be replaced from home, is the closeness and connection I feel from the interactions I have with our patrons — the art scholars and professors, traveling art-appreciators from across the country, and even the curious students who unintentionally happen upon the space. I miss listening in on the tours led through the gallery too. I continue to be shocked and impressed by how thoughtful and radically unique each lens our guests bring to the gallery space is. As much as I have learned from the internet, I will always think of the thoughts and ideas expressed by our visitors as giving me the most invaluable insight into our exhibitions.