By Kristy Stevenson
Something new and amazing is going right now at our very own Fitchburg State University that has never been done before. A collaboration of students and professors is being put to the test in order to try to set a new precedent that is unheard of, by creating a major and longstanding relationship between Fitchburg Art Museum and Fitchburg State University. Currently, students are jumping into the workforce and learning hands on what it takes to be involved in planning and hosting an exhibition at Fitchburg Art Museum. Professor Rob Carr is one of the many faculty members who is working with his students to achieve this goal. Carr is working closely with the Museum Director Nick Capasspo and Associate Curator Marry Tinti; together they are striving to build a relationship.
“A major part of that relationship would be working with students in museum projects and really creating a whole new level of participation for students who are involved in the operations of the museum. Students will also be developing exhibitions and sharing their ideas; so almost a collaborative relationship, which is unheard of nationally. I have seen many art museums across the country including university art museums, but I have never seen anything like that so we were very excited to have that discovery” says Carr. Currently classes such as Interactive Game Design taught by Jon Amakawa and Document Design, taught by Rob Carr are involved in this task. “So far, the students have not only worked on prototypes for marketing the show, but we have students in the midst of working on designs for the exhibition design competition which the museum is going to be actually picking a design for the show based on the winning design by students.”
The exhibition that the students and faculty members are working hard on is for our very own Professor Jeff Warmouth at Fitchburg State. This show will be a mid career retrospect of Warmouth’s work, which he is involved with every level of the show. He is involved in the development of all the content that surrounds the show and plays an inner role since he is both the artist of the show and a faculty member at Fitchburg State University. He plays a key role in this future relationship and he himself is part of the precedent that Rob Carr, Marry Tinti, and Nick Capasso are envisioning. According to Carr, “the project that we are doing this year with the exhibition of Jeffu Warmouth: No More Funny Stuff, mid career retrospective is really establishing a precedent on how the museum can work with students at Fitchburg State University, just as significantly how it is possible for any museum that is close by the university to develop a collaborative relationship with a university. This is beneficial to both ends so it becomes really the ultimate town goal enrichment project that is wonderful for Fitchburg, wonderful for the Fitchburg Art Museum, and wonderful for Fitchburg State University.”
Roughly one tenth of the communications media department will be working on Warmouth’s show this year. This means that not only the fall semester but the upcoming Document Design class in the spring will also be a part of the exhibition. These are all undergraduate students who are part of the communications major who are working to set this precedent. “The students of the communications media department at Fitchburg State University are totally capable of doing superior professional work that can have a positive impact out beyond the classroom.” By being involved in this precedent, “The students have a meaningful experience that sets them up for their careers and so this is a real world experience that is designed to enable the museum to do large scale and very ambitious projects that we would probably not be able to do otherwise and in that sense students benefit, and the museum benefits.” This will not only benefit students involved now at the college, but will benefit them and give them the tools they need for the future.
Carr explains the great lengths that the museum, students, and faculty are doing in order to make this precedent last. “We have never seen this done before, so we are trying to establish a model that we know that can be successful when working with these students. Then, “We can use that model with future students for all the mutual benefits between the Fitchburg Art Museum and Fitchburg State University. In other words, this time around we are really figuring out a lot of very new things that we can improve upon and do better in the future. The key is that we need to do very well this time so that we have a very successful precedent, as opposed to something that didn’t go quite well.”