My name is Erika Bacon and this summer I was the Getty Exhibition Intern at Able ARTS Work. I'm a Junior from Otis College of Art and Design, majoring in Digital Media with an emphasis in Animation.
My original plan for this summer was to look for an internship in animation. I wanted to start gaining in-studio experience. However, one of my professors gave me advice that led me to the Getty internship program. He told me that there will be many opportunities in the next two years for in-studio internships and instead encouraged me to use this summer to gain experience in a different, yet creative work environment. After learning about Able ARTS Work, I thought it was the perfect place for my internship. I have lived in Long Beach my whole life and have never interacted with the local art community. I was hoping that I would get that chance through Able ARTS Work.
I have always loved art. Specifically, I have been drawn to children’s films and TV animation. Animation is a beautiful way to share stories that can create a positive impact in kids’ (and adults’) lives. Storytelling through animation is a powerful tool for learning. The right narrative can open up conversations about equality and understanding. For that reason, I think it’s very important for me as a storyteller to meet different people and gain experiences within the community.
When I first started at Able ARTS Work I was very excited. I expected to meet a lot of new people and artists. I also expected to put up a lot of different art and engage in community events. I’m very glad to say all of this was true. The first show I assisted in installing at Able ARTS Work’s gallery in Long Beach was Matthew Campano’s I SPY solo show. The artwork interesting and fun; it was a great introduction to the artists enrolled in day program.
After Matthew’s show, we quickly began preparing for the Yamaha Cares, Upcycled Guitar Exhibit. Some of my first tasks were to unbox the guitars that were coming in from other organizations. It was fun opening up each guitar and seeing all the different and unique ways the artist transformed their instrument. I created the labels for the instruments as well as the bio book for all the artists. This helped me become familiar with the artists and their instruments. The artists’ stories were amazing to read, and sometimes heartbreaking, but it was a rewarding experience.
I learned many technical skills during my internship including how to properly display art (instruments in this case); promote art; arrange a gallery; and engage with gallery guests. Through working in the archive, I learned how to properly frame and store art. I sorted through large stacks of artwork and helped decide what was to be archived or ready for display in the gallery. I learned how to connect the established artists’ names with their individual art styles. I worked together with Alexis, the exhibits coordinator, brainstorming ideas for how the Yamaha Cares Show would be displayed. I was very thankful to be given the chance to make decisions within the gallery and have my ideas valued. As an artist, I really appreciated the chance to paint on a drum and have my own piece in the show. Not only was it the first time my art had been displayed in a gallery, it also made the show more personal for me.
While working at Able ARTS Work, I was surprised at how understanding and encouraging the work environment was. Everyone I met was incredibly friendly and supportive. I never felt lost at any point during my internship. Alexis was an amazing mentor to me. Not only is she great at explaining things, but she also came in to work every day with positive energy. Working with her was inspiring and I’m very thankful to have been given the chance to learn from her.
Although I didn’t have to chance to know the artists personally, I met a lot of them through their art. I strongly admire the work I saw from the Able ARTS Work artists and learned a lot from them too about various ways you can make art. I saw so many different mediums of art used on a canvas that I never would have thought of: paper, glitter, buttons, fabric, etc. If it can stick to a canvas, they will use it. Their creativity felt limitless to me and it was a huge eye opener as an art student. Not only was the work beautiful, it meant so much more after learning about the artists and their process in making it. The motto at Able ARTS Work is love before learning, and I see that in the artists’ work.
This summer was unforgettable. I made some amazing new friends and learned so much more than I expected. The time I spent here at Able ARTS Work was enriching. I am very thankful to Able ARTS Work for welcoming me and treating me as part of the team. I look forward to visiting the gallery and seeing all the amazing future exhibitions.
You can visit the Able ARTS Work Gallery at the Expo Arts Center in Long Beach. Join them every first Friday for fun activities like button making and scavenger hunts. Learn more about their current call for entries for the CORE Show.
Join us at our first virtual Arts & Tell event September 21st at 5pm PDT. Share your art in progress with other creatives and discuss techniques.
Erika Bacon was the 2022 Getty Intern at Able ARTS Work. She is currently studying Digital Media, focusing on animation, at Otis College of Art and Design.