My Communications Placement at the RMG

Heather Bulman is a communications student at Durham College and this winter she completed her placement with the RMG. 

My grandmother loved the arts and exposed me to many forms at an early age. From visiting the Whetung Arts and Crafts Gallery in Curve Lake to the Tom Thompson paintings hanging on the walls of her condo or the great performers of 1930s musical productions. I always believed to have a deep appreciation and understanding of the arts.

Then I began my placement at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery. As the Communications Intern, I am surrounded by individuals who live and breathe a passion for the arts. Through my time at the gallery, I have had the opportunity to attend artist and curator talks, which have given me a whole new level of appreciation for the behind-the-scenes efforts of these creative works. Whether listening to Margaret Rodgers’ interpretation of bystanders in the historic photos from the Thomas Bouckley Collection or imagining Senior Curator, Linda Jansma digging through vaults overseas for hidden Jock MacDonald gems. These stories help the viewer see beyond the medium, into the heart of the creator.

The history of our people, land and culture are captured in these works. They are preserved to inspire, teach or challenge the viewer’s understanding, both at the time of publishing and for generations to come.

I am so grateful for my time at the gallery. Not only has my position allowed me to use the skills I’ve acquired through the Durham College Public Relations program, I’ve gained experiences and relationships I’ll value for a lifetime.

– Heather

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Meet Heather Bulman: Communications Student

Heather Bulman is a communication student at Durham College and this winter she completes her placement with the RMG. She sat down with Sam Mogelonsky, our Communications Coordinator to discuss her experience at the RMG.

RMG: How did you get involved with volunteering at the RMG?

Heather: I began volunteering at the RMG in the summer of 2014. I knew I was interested in completing my non-profit placement here and decided volunteering would be a good way to get to know everyone beforehand.

RMG: Why were you interested in working in the museum sector?

Heather: I believe it’s important for people to experience culture in their community. By visiting galleries and museums, people can gain a better understanding of Canada’s rich cultural history. 

RMG: What has been the focus of your internship at the gallery?

Heather: My position as the Communications Intern at the RMG has allowed me to expand on my public relations education with real-world experience. I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of tasks but have been focusing my efforts on the upcoming Volunteer Youth Leaders Symposium. I am honoured to help plan and execute an event that highlights the importance of youth volunteerism in Durham Region.

RMG: What is one thing you want to share about the RMG?

Heather: The people. I am blown away by not only the kindness of every individual working in the gallery, but also by their passion for art and culture. They are always eager to share stories about their art experiences, both here at the gallery and abroad. By working alongside the gallery staff, I have become more knowledgeable and invested in Canadian art.

RMG: What is your favourite museum?

Heather: My favourite museum is the Canadian Canoe Museum, located in Peterborough, ON. As an elementary school student in Peterborough, I visited this museum multiple times. This was the first museum that enriched my cultural understanding. I remember hearing the rhythm of the indoor waterfall as I imagined myself portaging across the great Canadian landscape.

RMG: What is your first memory of art?

Heather: Although I remember creating art throughout elementary school, I also remember visiting the Whetung Ojibwa Centre with my mother and grandmother, where I was exposed to Indigenous crafts and fine arts for the first time. I immediately fell in love with the elements of nature and rich colours used in these works. Trips to the Curve Lake Reserve shaped my appreciation of Indigenous art and became a tradition in my family.

Toni Hamel’s new series, The land of Id

This post is by Heather Bulman, a public relations student at Durham College and the RMG’s current Communications Intern.

Toni Hamel was drawn to art very early in life. She remembers creating her first sculptures from the clay brought up from the ground after her parents added a well to the backyard of their Italian home. To this day, Hamel keeps the earliest evidence of her true passion – a photograph from kindergarten with a few drawings on the back.

In Italy, Hamel fought to pursue an education in the arts. Finally, in 1983, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the Academy of Fine Art in Lecce. However, after moving to Canada, she found it difficult to find a job with a degree in fine arts. Hamel took advantage of the dawn of technology by studying computer graphics at Sheridan College. As one of the few women working in technology at the time, she went on to have a very successful career as an interactive media developer and instructor at the University of Toronto. Despite her successes, Hamel grew tired of her career and, with the support of her husband, decided to return to her true passion. Since 2007, she has focused her creative efforts solely on her art. Although she incorporates many mediums into her pieces, she works mostly with graphite.

Toni Hamel painting in the Art Lab

Toni Hamel painting in the Art Lab

“I started as a painter, but then I got tired of colour. Colour distracts me,” says Hamel. “To me, it’s like decoration. In the work I have evolved to, there is no place for decoration – it’s about the essence. I extract everything else. In doing so, I arrived at drawings. Drawings don’t have contextual information, just the central message. I don’t produce images, I produce content.”

Beginning February 4, she will have the opportunity to create new content as the second artist in residency at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) in Oshawa, Ont. In the galley’s Art Lab, attached to the recently opened Gallery A, Hamel will have the space to reflect on humans’ relationship with the environment in her new series, The land of Id. This subject matter will complement a current exhibition in the RMG, Running on Empty, while exploring different formats.

Hamel’s experiences in Italy have inspired her to explore powerful topics such as social and political issues. She believes artists have a responsibility to raise awareness about important topics and share their experiences.

“It is difficult for artists to get the general community interested in the arts,” explains Hamel. “When I was growing up in Italy, there were no galleries that offered art classes to a variety of generations, like the Station Gallery or the RMG. Gallery A gives the artists the opportunity to develop new pieces while sharing and engaging with the community.”

For this artist, it’s all about sharing a message. Hamel often uses humour and satire to explore controversial topics. While she admits that reality can be offensive sometimes, she also finds it challenging to find the right balance. As her work has evolved, Hamel has learned that sometimes she can say more with a whisper than a shout.

Toni Hamel’s exhibition The land of Id runs in Gallery A from March 3 to 29. Image by Toni Hamel.

Intern Files: Rachael

This post is by Rachael Dixon Lawrence, a grade 12 student at Father Leo J Austin Secondary School. Rachael is completing a co-op placement.  

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I chose to do my placement in the curatorial department at the RMG to further my knowledge and skills in art for my future career in animation. Fine art is very important to me because it is a way for people to express themselves in fun and interesting ways. I felt that working in a gallery would help me appreciate how everyone views artworks differently and to learn how art exhibitions are organized and displayed. Working at the RMG has really shown me how much time and effort is put into exhibition planning, and the importance of preserving artworks, photographs, and archival documents.

Before working at the RMG I did not know that Oshawa had such a large collection of artworks, and was not familiar with Painters Eleven or their importance to the gallery. I love how each Painters Eleven member’s style is very different, yet they clearly influenced each other. I have also learned about Oshawa’s history through working with the Thomas Bouckley Collection.

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My favourite Painters Eleven artist is Kazuo Nakamura. I particular love this painting by Nakamura entitled Suspension.

One of my favorite jobs while working at the gallery was assisting with the placement and hanging of artworks for both the Durham Catholic District School Board and the Oshawa Art Association exhibitions. I also have enjoyed organizing hard copy photographs of artworks into files because I get to see a variety of artists and styles in the collection while doing it. I have catalogued books and historical photographs, taken inventory of books and exhibition pamphlets, researched exhibition history, made/hung labels, learned how the dewy decimal system works in the library, and hung artworks.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the RMG and look forward to continuing my studies in fine art and animation.

The Intern Files: Tara Mazurk

The Intern Files is an ongoing series of blog posts written by RMG Interns. Tara Mazurk is a third-year Arts Management Student at the University of Toronto.

There’s satisfaction in assisting the RMG in endeavors which build the local community, support artistic practice across Canada, and provide a pedagogical forum for learning and engagement. As the Communications and Events Assistant, I’ve had the opportunity to coordinate artists for RMG Exposed 2012 and progress the development of the RMG’s volunteer program.

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The auction at RMG Exposed 2012

 

With RMG Exposed, I was charged with the task of coordinating incoming submissions, creating a comprehensive database, and acting as a liaison between artists and RMG.  Ultimately, the objective was to create a system which was easily accessible internally, and enhanced communication between parties. I was quick to realize the benefits of this project, both as educational experience and within a broader context.
Currently an undergraduate student in Arts Management, the RMG has been wonderful in giving me a breadth of experience in database management, fundraising and development, and in artistic programming. To coordinate selections for a charitable auction allowed me to realize not only the funding impact for the RMG, but also the indispensable relationship between artist and organization. Those who had submitted work for jury came from various locations across Canada and thus various social, cultural, and educational backgrounds; some selected artists had previously no exhibition experience. This values the placement of emerging artists within an institutional framework, and provides a new forum for discussion, display, and career development.

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Guests check out works to be auctioned at RMG Exposed 2012

 

No stranger to the professional development acquired through volunteering, I had approached the RMG with an eagerness to learn and inherent support of their values and initiatives. Of course, it was in my natural interest to outreach to new volunteers and to align administration of the volunteer program with the RMG’s Strategic Plan. My responsibilities included researching the various venues to which we could reach interested participants. As an extension of internal operations, I helped create a volunteer database which is accessible and easily filtered for volunteer interests, availability, and current status. The RMG’s volunteer resources are invaluable; and we are currently enhancing the portfolio to provide methods for internal evaluation. At the core of everything, this provides a fitting experience and inviting atmosphere to those who are crucial in building and engaging our community.

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Tara (left) and another volunteer clowning around at RMG Fridays August 2012

 

The Intern Files: Taylor Short

In this edition of The Intern Files, we hear from Taylor Short. Taylor is fourth year Communications student at Oshawa’s University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). This week Taylor completed her internship with us. Here is her blog post about her experience working in an art gallery for the first time.

In attempting to conceptualize the space of an art gallery, I typically picture paintings hanging on blank walls with people browsing through works as they please.  My recent experience as an intern at the RMG has changed my perspective of the use of gallery spaces.  I have come to the realization that art, and gallery spaces alike, are creative tools for gaining a better understanding of various environments.

Having the chance of exploring works within the gallery and working with individuals who share a passion for art has been an eye opening experience.  It has been exciting to learn about artists, attention-grabbing mediums, and the messages associated with various creative pieces. 

The RMG gift shop has been one of my areas of focus during my time as an intern at the gallery.  Norah O’Donnell and I have enjoyed exploring exclusive products beautifully crafted by local artisans. It has been exciting to be educated about the ways in which pieces are crafted and developed, to create exclusively striking jewellery, pottery, glass ware, and fine art alike.

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(Pictured: New artist finger puppet/magnets in the RMG shop)

Art has a curious way of reaching into the deepest corners of our imagination.  It seeps into our souls and allows us to experience a simple sense of bliss.  I hope that the rest of my time at the gallery continues to allow my imagination to be exhilarated.

The Intern Files: Amy Weir

In this edition of The Intern Files, we hear from Amy Weir. Amy is a library and information science graduate student from the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. In the past, Amy has interned at the RMG Library and Archives, and is currently working on a special project for the Thomas Bouckley Collection.

Compiled by local historian Thomas Bouckley, the Thomas Bouckley Collection at the RMG depicts the history of the City of Oshawa – providing visual insight into Oshawa’s past. The collection’s catalogued component consists of over 2280 photographs and negatives, but in addition, the RMG possesses a wide range of supporting files from Thomas Bouckley’s personal collection: over 2000 items including uncatalogued photographs, documents, artefacts and ephemera.

            As some may be familiar, much of the catalogued component of the Thomas Bouckley Collection has been organized and filed in proper storage, frequently displayed in exhibitions and accessed for research purposes by the public. However, the other items that make up the collection currently remain in the condition received in 1985, with little organization, improper storage, and a lack of archival-quality housing. The uncatalogued materials, while stored in folders that have been numbered and named, are also difficult to locate due to a lack of description in the accompanying finding aid. This is where I come in. Over the course of three months, I’m working toward the goal of establishing order and appropriate storage for the uncatalogued portion, with the ultimate objective of facilitating ease of access, longevity, and ongoing preservation for the entire collection.

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Re-housing files in archival-quality folders, before and after.

            Currently, the project’s first stage is just wrapping up: the records within nearly all of the files have been ‘re-housed,’ and placed in archival-quality storage to enhance their preservation. Some files have simply required new, archival-quality file folders, while others have required more careful intervention – removing damaged photos from dated photo albums, for example.

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Damaged photos to be removed from unstable photo albums.

Doing so has involved an analysis of every item in the collection, which has provided a great opportunity to discover the treasures that Bouckley collected as part of his research. Items, such as the original postcard with inscription shown here, tell the stories of the families who lived in early Oshawa.

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1917 postcard and note on verso. Man in photo is identified as Frank Mallet of Mallet House Hotel, Oshawa. 
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What’s more, some of the items within the collection speak to not only the history of Oshawa, but the history of other areas in Ontario, with research and artefacts dating as far back as the aboriginal settlements of today’s Durham Region and Southern Ontario. Once the collection has been properly re-housed, organization and the eventual production of a digital finding aid (and collection inventory) is created, access to the collection will be significantly enhanced while contributing to Bouckley’s endeavour to continually augment and to preserve our knowledge of the region’s history.