Katrina, tell us a little about your background.
I’ve been a New Yorker almost since birth (the first 6 months of unmemorable existence happened in New Jersey) and have lived in New York City since graduating from CNR in 2002. I am one of four children, having an older sister, a younger sister and a younger brother.
My illustrious career in the arts started with drawing blobbish creatures in crayon on both walls and on the inside covers of hard copy books. I was also keen on painting (the family’s black cat with my mother’s red lipstick). Unfortunately, at that time my creativity was not appreciated.
What is your position here at The College of New Rochelle?
I am the Director of CNR’s three art spaces: Castle Gallery and Mooney Center Gallery, both located on the Main Campus, and the Gordon Parks Gallery, located on the John Cardinal O’Connor campus in the South Bronx. I’ve also taught for the School of Arts & Sciences Undergraduate Art Department.
What benefits do the students receive from having the Castle Gallery right here on campus?
I think the Castle Gallery is a great educational resource for all of CNR’s students, not just art majors. Located on the ground floor of Leland Castle, students on their way to upstairs faculty offices find themselves taking a moment to roam through our exhibitions, which vary in concept and creation. Often they initially did not know the College had a professional gallery, which is why our door is always open during hours of operation and we do our best to encourage those passing by to stop in.
The works displayed can potentially encompass all areas of study. Some shows highlight this more than others, such as the fall 2008 show, Beyond Bio: Clay Bodies which showcased biology-inspired ceramic pieces. It was a great exhibit for nursing students. Our winter show 2008-09, Wonder and Woe, curated by Dr. Susan Canning, the art history professor at CNR, exhibited artists who use elements of myth and fables within their work. That show seemed to cater to our literature students, but was enjoyed by all who visited. A previous show also curated by Dr. Canning, R³: Reading ‘Ritin ‘Rithmetic, 30 Years Later, featured artists who use reading (text or text- based), writing (language and words), and arithmetic (numbers and systems) as their medium for art making. Racing on a Broken Road, exhibited in the winter of 2006-07, focused on a portion of Westchester’s own history with work that employed the oral history, memories, photographs, and historic material of seven generations of two African-European and Native-American families who have lived in the area for the past 230 years. These are just a few of our more recent exhibitions. Ultimately, all of our exhibits hold educational elements for all students, regardless of their age, sex, and/or areas of study.
What are some of the programs that the Castle Galley has for undergraduates?
Castle Gallery, like many other CNR departments, has a work study program for enrolled CNR students. It is comparable to an internship at a small museum or gallery. Our work study gallery assistants perform basic receptionist duties, but also learn how to handle, install and de-install work. Depending on the exhibits at that time, there are often opportunities for special projects.
How can students become involved with the Gallery?
On the easiest and least committed level, students can simply visit our shows and attend our receptions and related events, which are always free and open to the public. Beyond that, we are always looking for reliable work study gallery assistants to help our day-to-day operation run as smoothly as possible.
What do you like to do when you’re not at the College?
When I’m not at the College, I am often out supporting my friends who are involved in music, visual art, or performance art. A few friends have had the opportunity to exhibit at Mooney Center Gallery and discuss their work with the SAS Art Department students (Sarah Kipp, Joann Harrah, Jen P. Harris, to name a few). I try to exhibit my work as well and am currently in a group show, Emerged with a fellow CNR alum, Shervone Neckles, at the Theater for the New City’s gallery. Also, I am a member of the New Rochelle Council for the Arts and I hope to become more involved in the surrounding community and other galleries and art spaces.
What do you like best about your job?
I have worked for CNR and Castle Gallery in one capacity or another since becoming an undergraduate student here in 1998. The growth of the galleries has been wonderful to witness and be part of its development. Overseeing three galleries on two campuses means that I have to handle multiple responsibilities of varying natures. One day I might be installing a strange and complex piece with an artist and his/her assistants, the next I may be hosting events or providing tours, on another day I may be discussing potential shows with the curatorial committees or our Board. Sometimes I handle the shipping of art personally. And, of course, there is all that paperwork that needs to be done for upcoming shows or meetings. No two days are the same, and I am very happy doing what I do, having the support of the College, and working with people that are creative and supportive.