Chicago to Auckland: A Young Professional’s Adventure to Volunteer at the Symposium

In 2010, I was among four students who co-founded an ongoing outdoor sculpture exhibit in Providence, RI.  The “Sculpture Tour,” brainchild of sculptor and professor William Martin, is an exhibit where sculptures by national artists are displayed across the Rhode Island College campus, curated by the Engaging Visual Arts Collaborative.  As president of the organization, I was sponsored to attend the International Sculpture Conference in Chicago this past October.  Needless to say, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to experience three days of art through panels, keynote speakers, tours, and activities!


Photo: (Counterclockwise from Upper Left) Yvonne Domenge’s Interconnected in Millennium Park,
Jeff Thomson speaks about his work on Waiheke Island,
Tony Tasset’s Paul in Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park. Photos by Kate Mullen

During my stay in Chicago, I fell in love with the endless amounts of information, the gathering of creative minds, and the inviting celebration of the arts found at the conference.  By day, I listened to inspiring speakers such as Ed Uhlir, Executive Director of Millennium Park, and by night I attended amazing events including an iron pour and pig roast.  The public art was phenomenal, ranging from Yvonne Domenge’s Interconnected to the permanent works at Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park.  I was in heaven!

Out of the many panels I enjoyed, the panel that really stood out to me was titled, “South Specific: The Rise of Temporary Public Sculpture Exhibitions in New Zealand.”  As a freelance curator for outdoor exhibits, a conversation on temporal outdoor sculpture really intrigued me.  At the time, I was planning on visiting my brother who is studying at the University of Auckland, so the panel was ideal for me in many ways.  During the panel, Jacquelyn O’Brien, past Director of “Sculpture on the Gulf,” Dr. Robin Woodward senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Auckland, and New Zealand artist, Jeff Thomson, spoke about the outdoor exhibit on Waiheke Island and the upcoming symposium.   I just about fell out of my seat with excitement!  I knew that the symposium would be an ideal place for me to expand my career as an artist, curator, and young creative professional.

It wasn’t long after returning from the Chicago conference when I decided to apply to volunteer at the Auckland symposium.  As with my first ISC conference, I knew that the symposium would draw a diverse, global pool of artists, curators, arts administrators, collectors, students, and art enthusiasts.   This time however, I wanted to be right in the heart of it by working at the symposium.  I can’t wait to witness the outdoor sculptures with the breathtaking natural landscapes, explore innovative new ideas while attending panels, and work with the ISC on the forefront of creating outstanding art dialogue.  If the Chicago conference is any indication, the New Zealand Sculpture Symposium will continue to inspire me well beyond my week of attendance!

About the Author

Kate Mullen, Rhode Island College Class of ’13 BFA Candidate in Sculpture, has interned at the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and the Steel Yard, in Providence, RI.  She is currently the curator of the Four Corners Outdoor Sculpture Park and plans to pursue a career in arts administration with a focus on public art.

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