Dakota Higgins at Otis Gallery

This summer I’ve been the Multicultural Undergraduate Intern in the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design, where I’m currently a student. While my studies focus on the creative and philosophical side of art, a curatorial internship at my college’s art gallery has shown me an entirely new perspective on the field!

What I like most about my internship is: Working in a contemporary fine arts space. The gallery also shows other kinds of work (printmaking/illustration, artists’ books, public practice documentation, and ephemeral works) and puts together exhibition-related programming.

It’s really great to see how a white-cube space can be used as a springboard for events that address a public more directly. The gallery held a banquet with the artists Lucy and Jorge Orta; the exhibition drew the community from and around Otis to campus to eat and engage in artistic and political dialogues. As an aspiring fine artist and alternative art-space participant, it’s really great to work behind the scenes and learn the inner workings of a gallery.

Plus, I get to jam in the gallery every so often, which is great because the acoustics are fantastic.

My project: I’ve assisted in putting together the gallery’s upcoming exhibition Exquisite Beauty: The Ceramics of Ralph Bacerra. (The show opens on September 26th. Be there.) I’ve helped handle donors’ loan agreements and got especially acquainted with the unpacking, photographing, and re-packing of many beautiful and fragile ceramic objects. Before this internship I hadn’t considered the amount of work, both logistical and physical, that goes into planning a show.

My background: Is in fine arts. My declared major is sculpture/new genres, but I create far more photographs and other two-dimensional works that are harder to categorize. As a fine arts major at Otis, I have also studied a lot of philosophy and critical theory. We learn about the dynamics between art and sociopolitical histories, from ancient Greece to the present. We also consider how old conceptions of art influence contemporary ones, as well as the inherent philosophy/politic of any art object.

My first impression of the Getty Multicultural Internship Program: I didn’t really know what the Getty Multicultural Internship was about when I applied through my school. It was something the previous Otis gallery intern (a good friend) mentioned to me, and I thought that it would be a good idea to submit an application. I was pretty oblivious to the full scope of what I was getting into, which is generally how I like to live my life (ha!).

Since I’m an artist working at an arts institution, my assumption was that I would meet people with similar backgrounds. I was indeed surprised to meet so many people whose interests and backgrounds are not in art-making or art history. It’s been interesting to hear people with different backgrounds talk about art, and it’s made me think a lot about the ways institutions can contextualize art objects.

Funniest moment: Listening to Benjamin Weissman, an author who was invited to read at an event in the gallery. He read about a man’s sexual exploits with a gorilla and I didn’t realize until way later than I should have that the story was a work of fiction.

My secret talent: I’m a very competent beat-boxer.