'I'm really interested in contemporary art because it can be anything. And I know that that's very off-putting for some people. When it comes to artistic movements; you have a lot of different styles that are very particular and very stylized and very identifiable. When it comes to contemporary art, you don't really have that as much, because the whole basis of contemporary art is that it's what's happening now. It's living artists in essence; that's what the word contemporary truly means...'
For the eighth episode of ‘Dutch Art & Design Today’, I sat down with Sara Birkofer, who is the Assistant Director of Gallery and Accessibility Programming at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Sara studied art history at the University of Cincinnati and French language and culture at La Sorbonne, in Paris. For the past decade, she has been affiliated with the Cincinnati Art Museum, where she has been instrumental in furthering its mission of public inclusivity via the many educational programs that the museum carries out. The museum, which was founded in 1881, is also the oldest fine art museum in the Midwestern United States—and as she explains, she makes good use of the collection, in its entirety, within her work. Sara's interests in contemporary art; French and more generally, European history and culture; combined with her affinity for being a connector of people using art, has lead her to develop numerous in-gallery educational programs at the Cincinnati Art Museum, for visitors of—quite literally—all backgrounds and ages.
In this episode, which was recorded at the museum, we discuss her education in the USA and Europe, including how her studies in Paris and London led to her immersing herself in countless galleries and museums throughout Europe. She then defines contemporary art and explains its importance to the culture at large, its role in museums, and how—unlike the art of the past—its meanings and purposes can be more abstractly approached, from the perspective of the viewer. When then dive into her immersive-focused educational work at the Cincinnati Art Museum, and how she uses the museum's collection as a catalyst to advance the museum's mission—beyond its own walls—to foster community within the city. Sara has developed, among others, a baby art tour, a program for children with autism, as well as intimate, sensory-focused tours, for groups whose participants are blind. In addition to being an award-winning museum educator for her prior work, she's also developing new programs at the museum—which she lays out and expounds on, near the end of our talk
You can find out more about the Cincinnati Art Museum on its website.
'Dutch Art & Design Today' is published by Semicolon-Press.