Curatorial Practice in a Non-Profit Arts Organization

Abreihona Lenihan working with artist Humaria Abid


Curatorial Practice in a Non-Profit Arts Organization

Abreihona Lenihan, Museum Studies Intern at Contemporary Craft - Spring 2021

I was ecstatic to learn about the curatorial internship at Contemporary Craft (CC) as I have been eager to both learn and gain more insight into the role of a curator. Shadowing Kate Lydon, Director of Exhibitions, I helped engage the public in the creative experience through craft-based artistic practices. Although I worked remotely for the majority of the internship, I contributed to multiple projects. For WOV ART: Celebrating 40 Creative Years at Contemporary Craft’s Satellite Gallery at BNY Mellon (March 12-July 25, 2021), I took on curatorial, installation, and marketing responsibilities, while for the Searching for Home by Humaria Abid (April 9-August 21, 2021) my focus was on public programs, partnerships, and registration. I also contributed to the development of the Food Justice: Growing a Healthier Community through Art exhibit (September 11, 2021 - March 20, 2022), participating in preliminary program meetings for this upcoming initiative.

Far from a traditional museum, this nonprofit art organization is one of the few visual arts organizations in the US dedicated exclusively to contemporary craft, consistently presenting works by nationally and internationally respected artists. The five-month internship at Contemporary Craft provided an in-depth introduction to what curatorial practice entails, including public program development, archival research, and gallery installation. In the remote context, I contributed to project meetings on Zoom, created exhibition checklists, and assisted with exhibition loan agreements. I quickly learned that this kind of position requires someone who is dedicated, hardworking, and passionate about art history.

While the sheer range of tasks involved in curatorial practice was intimidating at first, my work at Contemporary Craft allowed me to enjoy the varied nature of the work, ranging from collaborative contexts to individual research. I am very grateful to my advisor, Ms. Lydon for her time and continued support. In addition to this, I am grateful to have made important connections with community colleagues such as Sam Black (Director African American Program, Senator John Heinz History Center), Christine Bethea (President of Women of Visions), and Charlotte Ka (owner of MOKA Gallery in the Historic Hill District). As this semester comes to an end, I am thankful to have these experiences to guide me for future curatorial endeavors.

  • Academic Interns
  • Undergraduate Work
  • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh