Orange County Museum of Art Internship Summaries

About Orange County Museum of Art (“OCMA”): OCMA unveiled the design for the museum’s new home at Segerstrom Center for the Arts by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis to the public in May 2018 and broke ground on a new 53,000-square-foot museum September 20, 2019 with a projected 2021 opening. The new museum will allow OCMA to produce major special exhibitions alongside spacious installations from its world-traveled collection with 10,000 square feet for education programs, performances, and public gatherings and nearly 25,000 square feet of exhibition galleries.

John Aaron Katzeman Summer 2019, curatorial and public engagement intern, worked primarily with Senior Curator and Director of Public Engagement Cassandra Coblentz, Assistant Curator Alyssa Cordova, Public Programming Assistant Nalini Sairsingh, and Assistant to the Director and CEO Shimin Zheng.

He conducted research on the six artists whose exhibitions opened September 2019, the results of which will be used for press releases, docent training material, and for OCMA’s docent training website as a permanent reference. Aaron had hands-on experience into some of the tasks curatorial work for Carolina Caycedo’s upcoming exhibition, including obtaining recycled fabric material from a mattress factory to use in a snake-like seating sculpture and measuring a complex part of the museum to provide dimensions for a work that will span a large gallery space.

Aaron organized an audio tour for the upcoming exhibition season. This required personal communication with artists  and guest curators, making wall labels for each individual recording, and creating a museum map with highlighted locations for the audio tour. He also created a variety of public engagement materials using Adobe InDesign including labels, museum map, promotional posters, and email blasts for local communities and OCMA’s front desk.

Aaron conducted research and outreach for programming events and  produced various spreadsheets for different topics and occasions including Cinema Orange film screenings, a performance and panel with the artist York Chang relating to his current exhibition, and a Crafting and Craft Beer event. He assisted with Season Two’s Exhibition closing weekend August 2019 and the Season Three’s Exhibition opening festivities in September.

Chuman Zhang Fall 2018 and Winter 2019 wrote that her OCMA internship experience was ‘an incredible journey’ for her and felt that ‘everyone in the OCMA team helped her to understand the idea of working in a museum, and gave her many opportunities to be part of the project and to interact with the artists.’ She worked with both curators and the public engagement team during her internship on a variety of projects throughout her six-month internship, learning how curators and public engagement interacts with, and engages in conversation with, artists, museum docents and children from the local school, and applied what she learned in her internship work.

Chuman conducted research for OMCA’s permanent collection and Season Two Exhibition, researched artists for future exhibitions, and assisted in producing public programs, including OC Cinema, artists performances and school programs. Her research topics included West Coast leading artists featured in the Season Two Exhibition for which she studied their artistic concepts, organized their past press releases, and found significant accomplishments and little-known facts. This ‘taught her to be organized, filter out non-important ideas with efficiency and turn information into detail-intensive factual and educational material.’

She assisted the public engagement team for the Season Two opening; drafting an invitation letter, editing guest lists, mailing out invitations and helping prepare the event space, as well as with school tours, public programs, family days, artists talks, and book signings. Chuman created an information web page for museum docents, interacted with the artists, helped with installation, and participated in OCMA’s many public programs.

Chuman felt the most beneficial aspect for her was the opportunity to be on the curatorial team from preparation to production of the Season Two Exhibition, seeing first-hand how ideas and artwork become a real exhibition. She wrote her  ‘internship was truly an inspiration for her future career and a turning point for her research. She did not know much about contemporary art before she came to OCMA, where she found her passion for contemporary art. Her OCMA internship inspired her to study modern and contemporary art market in graduate school.’

Sebastian Sarti Fall 1208 and Winter 2019 worked with curators developing public events and preparing for a new exhibition. He worked with docents on their tours, developed materials for new and upcoming programs, and produced an audio tour for an upcoming exhibit, which included designing a map and recording artists discussing their artwork. Much of Sebastian’s work consisted of research and interactions with outside sources to expand and enrich the museum and help the curatorial staff.

Sebastian wrote his internship ‘helped him to better understand inter-social relationships within a professional working space outside of school, manage multiple tasks throughout the day, and revise useful workplace strategies within a working space to use when dealing with unexpected challenges.’        

More about OCMA:

OCMA’s permanent collection includes over 4,500 works of art focused on modern and contemporary art, including painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, printmaking, video, digital, and installation art, pieces of which are regularly loaned to institutions worldwide.

Major holdings are California-based, highlighting movements including early and mid-century modernism, Bay Area Figuration, Assemblage, California Light and Space, Pop Art, Minimalism, and installation art, with works by artists including John Baldessari, Elmer Bischoff, Jessica Bronson, Chris Burden, Vija Celmins, Bruce Conner, Tony Delap, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Irwin, Helen Lundeberg, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, John McCracken, John McLaughlin, Catherine Opie, Alan Rath, Charles Ray, Ed Ruscha, Betye Saar, Bill Viola and Andy Warhol.

International holdings are a growing area of the collection and include work by: Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Lee Bul, Katy Grannan, Joseph Grigely, Glenn Ligon, Li Hui, Christian Marclay, Marjetica Potrc, David Reed, Daniela Rossell, Lorna Simpson, and Shi Zhiying.

OCMA’s California Biennial, launched in 1984 and considered  one of the most important surveys in the world devoted to new art, evolved into the California-Pacific Triennial, the first on-going exhibition in the Western Hemisphere devoted to contemporary art from around the Pacific Rim.

OCMA featured works by artists from 24 Pacific Rim countries during the following five years including Australia, Cambodia, Canada, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, and Vietnam. Between 2004 through 2009, OCMA’s original exhibitions travelled to more than 35 museums throughout the United States and in Europe and organized and hosted important exhibitions of modern art and design including Picasso to Pollock: Modern Masterpieces from the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art, Birth of the Cool: Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury,  and Illumination: The Paintings of Georgia O'Keeffe, Agnes Pelton, Agnes Martin, and Florence Miller Pierce.

OCMA is committed to making the arts accessible to all and offers a host of programs that engage the community with modern and contemporary art and artists. The museum opened its doors as the Newport Harbor Art Museum in 1962 and presented the first surveys of Vija Celmins (1980),  Chris Burden (1988), and Tony Cragg (1990). And early exhibitions of seminal work by: Lari Pittman (1983), Charles Ray (1990), Bill Viola (1997), Catherine Opie (2006) and Mary Heilmann (2007).