Studio Art student gains extensive experience with Cleveland-based arts triennial

Zelda Thayer-Hansen (they) spent over 170 hours this summer working with FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art.

FRONT is a free public contemporary art exhibition comprised of artist commissions, performances, films, and public programs that takes place in Cleveland, Akron, and Oberlin, Ohio every three years. FRONT’s mission is to develop a strong and vibrant creative community and drive positive change in Ohio cities through the arts.

Thayer-Hansen, an Honors Tutorial College Studio Art Major and a Cutler Scholar, worked with FRONT as part of their Diploma Service Internship. They learned about the triennial through Jennie Klein, associate director and graduate director of the School of Art + Design and professor of art history.

“I’m from Cleveland, I grew up in the arts scene and it’s very important to me,” Thayer-Hansen said.

They said their first project with FRONT allowed them to work with a creative duo from Tel Aviv, whose installations were supported by the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

“We need to help them cut out these huge, life-size portraits of Cleveland-based artists who have been photographed in their style,” they said. “We learned to literally stick them on the walls. We worked there, sometimes, six [or] eight hours a day.

Student assistants stand in front of wall art

On another project, Thayer-Hansen was able to work with Abigail DeVille, an award-winning artist known for her sculptures and installations focusing on marginalized voices.

“She really brought me in as studio secondhand,” Thayer-Hansen said of the role where early-career artists can collaborate on work and help manage day-to-day operations. “She listened to what I was suggesting, and I was really helping set things up. It was really amazing, and I felt like I was an extra artist helping her…That was probably my favorite part.

Through FRONT, Thayer-Hansen also had the opportunity to help organize events and participate in networking opportunities.

“Just doing simple tasks for artists was really amazing and it makes me want to work in another artist’s studio,” they said. “It inspires me more to become a paid studio worker for a professional artist or to work as an apprentice.”

As for the future and after working for FRONT, Thayer-Hansen is inspired to learn more about grant writing, fellowships and apprenticeships, as well as to explore possible artist residencies and other ways to support their art.

“I certainly didn’t expect every week to be different,” they said. “Learning to communicate with my boss and ask for different projects was really great. [I was] defend what I wanted to get out of this internship.

Thayer-Hansen encouraged students to seek help in finding learning experiences outside of Ohio University and highlighted how these opportunities can build independence and confidence in art and in life. life.

“We are at a university that wants to support you and help you learn outside of school,” they said.

Kayleen C. Rice