Two sculpture grads begin their professional careers at the Rourke Museum

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Rourke Art Museum. File source: Wikimedia Commons

Kaylyn Gerenz (BFA) and Alan Ochocki (BA) both received their undergraduate degrees with emphases in sculpture from the School of Visual Arts in 2011.  Both currently hold key positions at the Rourke Art Museum in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Gerenz began her work as Programming Associate and Registrar early in 2013.  Her responsibilities include developing ancillary programs, including tours and educational materials for all age groups, and being responsible for tracking and managing the Rourke’s permanent collection of approximately 4,000 artworks.  In addition, she also aided in the development of the consignment program for both local and regional artists and is the coordinator for the Rourke’s new Art Rental Program.

Ochocki has worked as the Rourke’s Exhibition Coordinator for two years.  As the Rourke’s primary liaison with artists, he works with artists to develop fully realized exhibits. He coordinates all aspects of exhibitions, collaborating with communications and educational staff on materials and outreach, and oversees the physical organization and installation of exhibitions.

Neither of us had envisioned working at a museum full time after we graduated, but are happy to find ourselves doing it. This unexpected experience has contributed to our studio life in various ways, whether through exposure to new artists or exploring new methods or theories to investigate. We both agree that although we ourselves are not creating art for our full-time job, it’s an amazing opportunity to just be working with art. It has also led us to be cognizant of what careers we look forward to in the future and the varying paths this job has created for us professionally.

–Alan Ochocki and Kaylyn Gerenz

When asked how a degree in sculpture prepared them for work at the Rourke, they commented that their education prepared them in myriad ways.  They observed, “At the Rourke, we draw from our art department critique experiences in studio and exercise talking openly and honestly with one another. We have become very comfortable with discussing individual ideals and thoughts when it comes to exhibitions, installation, and nearly everything else we are involved in together–this trust we now have started at MSUM in the sculpture department.”

However, it is not only their past experience in sculpture classes that they tap into for their current job skills.  They also see experiences from their freshman foundations year as key:  “We also are constantly drawing from our foundations classes and basic design principles, especially when analyzing art and spaces that will contain art.”  As museum specialists, they also tap into the knowledge they gained in art history courses, “especially with the last exhibition we installed: woodcuts and engraving from our permanent collections, emphasizing the transition and evolution of the woodcut through art history–it was a great help to know background information on this medium when considering pieces and installing the work.”

Ochocki and Gerenz also continue to be active in their studio work and professional development.  Because “I came to the realization that I have to be flexible and I can’t carve stones in my apartment,” Ochocki has been focusing on research and drawing.  He is also looking forward to exploring wood engravings and relief.  To support her studio work, Gerenz received a Lake Regional Arts Council Career Development Award 2012.  In 2013, she helped co-found KMAC Studios, a space for emerging artists in Fargo, North Dakota, and has ” been working in more community-driven and interactive projects collaboratively with studios mates and local artists.”  Her most-recent project is a collaborative installation piece with MSUM alumnus Ben Rheault, which is currently exhibited at the Plains Art Museum as part of the My Generation, Let’s Take it Over: Emerging Artists of Fargo-Moorhead.
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Kaylyn Gerenz, discussing the Department of Art & Design while a student in 2011

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