Erin Hanas, associate curator of academic programs, shares her goals for coordinating faculty and student engagement.
1. What is a typical day for you and/or your team?
Planning meetings and conversations — often related to programming ideas we are developing — but every day brings something new and different and creatively challenging. This ranges from navigating VCU administration to talking with colleagues at other institutions about their programming and campus outreach efforts. I am constantly considering what types of academic programs and initiatives would best serve our VCU audiences.
2. What projects are you focusing on leading up to the ICA’s opening?
Right now, I am focused on campus outreach and building relationships with members of the VCU community. More specifically, I am working on establishing a VCU student advisory committee and a student guide program as well as future internship and work study opportunities. I am also connecting with faculty and administrators across campus to get them interested in and excited about potential collaborations with the ICA. In addition, my colleagues and I have been working to plan the opening festivities — especially events for the VCU community and for the general public.
3. Before joining the ICA, you were the Coordinator of Academic Programs for the Nasher Museum at Duke University. How has your experience there helped to inform the programs you are developing here?
Through trial and error, I learned what works and what doesn’t when tying university curricula to art and exhibitions and fostering student engagement and involvement. This knowledge is informing how I design the ICA student guide program and student advisory committee. I believe that being open to students from all disciplines, and inviting undergraduate and graduate students to participate, is crucial. My outreach to and conversations with VCU faculty are also informed by my experiences at the Nasher in regards to finding ways to make art relevant for faculty and students in fields ranging from the liberal arts to the sciences. The ICA will be a resource for everyone at VCU, whether you’re in the arts, public policy, or medicine.
4. What do you enjoy most about being an arts educator?
Working in academic programs allows me to bridge being an academic and a museum professional. I started graduate school with the intention of becoming an art history professor, but through several internships and part-time jobs in museums, I found that I loved working in public art venues. Now the ICA is my classroom and I get to teach many different students and faculty members, helping them make connections between artworks and exhibitions and their coursework. The students and faculty, in turn, teach me how art may be understood from the perspectives of other disciplines.