Alicia Garr has been working at the Cleveland Museum of Art for 16 years, although she began her art-exploration here when she was only eight years old. She started working as a curatorial intern and has since moved on to work as Associate Director, Department of Interpretation. Her story is below.
Q: Alicia, you grew up in Cleveland Heights. What is your first memory of the museum?
A: My earliest memory of the museum and children’s classes was an art project that was mosaic. The base of the mosaic was a graham cracker, the mortar was frosting, and the mosaic tesserae were colored marshmallows. I also remember drawing hieroglyphs from the ancient mummy cases, and that’s why I became interested in ancient art.
Q: So from there you went on to study art in school?
A: I was actually interested in both art and science in high school, it was pretty 50/50. I could have gone art or physics, seriously, which is kind of weird. But I ended up going to Lake Forest College, which is a small, private liberal arts school. Lake Forest had an affiliation with other Midwest colleges that would do a semester in Greece, so I went on that program. It was taught by the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and we would travel around and see Ancient sights, so that really solidified art for me.
Q: How did you begin working here at the museum?
A: I started as an unpaid intern in the curatorial department in Ancient Art. I worked with Arielle Kozloff, who was the curator of ancient art at the time and she brought me in to work with on a special exhibition that opened in spring of 1995, it was called A Passion for Antiquities.
Q: How did you move to education?
A: Because I had worked on that show and written a lot of the labels, the curatorial staff asked me to give tours for the education department in the show. The reason I became full time in education was so I could work on the Art To Go program. It began about ten years ago, and I actually started to research objects in the art education department with an eye towards developing these Art To Go lessons. The program takes genuine works of art out to schools or community centers and presents a lesson with the objects and the participants get to handle the artwork.
Q: What is your favorite part of the job?
A: My favorite part of my job is when I get to be in the galleries and enjoy the art. I sometimes have to remember to get up from my desk and go into the galleries, but luckily I do still occasionally teach in the galleries. And there are a lot of really talented people who work here and luckily in my position, I get to interact with a lot of different people in different departments and see a lot of all the really committed, talented people that are here. That’s a part of my job I really enjoy.