For Love and Art M
iami University Art Museum Curator of Education, Cynthia Collins has been working in the museum field for more than 25 years. She will celebrate her 10th anniversary at MUAM early this year. As she approaches the end of her first decade, she reflects upon her time here. From the Ohio State University, she earned both her undergraduate degree in social work and her Master’s in African American and African studies, specializing in art and culture. This summer, Cynthia will complete her doctorate in Art Education, specializing in museum education. Cynthia married her artist husband, Larry Winston Collins, who pulled her right into the art world. She began helping him promote his work by writing press releases and editing catalogs. She became a docent at the Columbus Museum of Art, and soon decided to return to graduate school to pursue an advanced degree in museum education. She had the opportunity to teach as a graduate student and to work at the Wexner Center of the Arts. Cynthia was blessed with wonderful mentors throughout her education. Her day-to-day work consists of curating public programs, such as lectures, workshops and gallery talks. She creates student-centered art programs, as well as programs to attract the Oxford and surrounding communities at large, and coordinates the docent program. Her most enjoyable tasks include collaborating with faculty to create inquiry based learning experiences for students in the galleries. “Bottom line, I’m interested in students learning how to examine and look at works very closely and be able to critique and investigate visual culture; it’s all a part of helping students to become well rounded citizens of the world,” Cynthia says. She collaborates with each faculty member and deciphers their goals and learning objectives, and then decides how to use visual arts as the center of the experience.
Art Museum Staff Spotlight
“We want students to stop for a moment, pull their energies in and reflect and think about the images they are looking at and what the images are trying to communicate.” “Using visual imagery as a way to talk about difficult topics allows you to open up conversations that you may not have otherwise been able to; it takes away the intimidation,” she elaborates. She greatly enjoys her dynamic role at MUAM. “No two days are alike, and I never get bored.” She thrives on the constant influx of opportunities to teach and learn, claiming she could have been an eternal student. When asked about the best kept secret at MUAM, she responded. “It’s that we have a little bit of everything in our collection from master artists like Rembrandt to Picasso and others who have made an impact in the 20th and 21st centuries.” Her favorite piece is Glory, by Elizabeth Catlett. When she is not at the museum, Cynthia loves collecting ceramics and also calls herself a serious picker. “Objects and artifacts hold history and have stories to tell, and I love to hear those stories.” Her favorite exhibition was How the Miami People Live, in 2008, because she was excited to learn about and understand Myaamia culture. She currently resides in Oxford with her husband, who teaches in the Department of Art. They have two grown and married daughters (the younger is a Miami alumna) and three wonderful grandchildren. She smiles and concludes, “Oxford has been a good place to grow.”
By Justine Daley, Professional Writing Intern
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