Fine Arts Specialist - Career Spotlight

Fine Arts Specialist – Career Spotlight

Narrator: In this episode, we visit the General
Services Administration (GSA) in Washington DC. GSA has a Fine Arts program for placing
artwork, like paintings and sculptures, in government buildings and courthouses across
the country. Meet Kim. Kim: I think it’s important for government
buildings to have artwork because they reach a different audience than museums do. Some
museums are expensive and not everybody can afford to go, but government buildings, people
can go into them and anybody can see the artwork there. The favorite part of my job is actually just
getting to work with artists. They are able to think in creative ways and able to create
works that I could never envision [imagine] in a place and those works I think really
just add value to the overall building project and are a real plus for the American public. I worked on a project in Yuma, Arizona for
a courthouse there and I worked with an artist named John Bisbee. He created a project called
“Lion Dandies.” It’s a freestanding sculpture. It’s made of these kind of spike-like
looking large spheres stacked against each other, on top of one another. It was a really,
really lovely experience working there. We have a site visit and that’s really fun.
So the artist gets to walk the project site, we introduce them to the architect. We introduce
them to members of the project team, so they can learn everything they can about the site.
That way that have as much information as possible. They develop a concept that they
think is going to make sense for this building and this project site. And if all goes well the (artwork) concept
will move forward and the artist will go into fabrication [creating the artwork] and installation
[placing the artwork in the government building]. Once everything is fabricated [the artwork
is created], we try to have the artist install the artwork as close as possible to the end
of construction in the building because we don’t want the artwork to be damaged. I think it’s important to have good project
management skills. So just focus on getting one thing done at a time; being able to handle
a lot of different types of things; being flexible. You have to be prepared, you know hiccups
in the road. You know no matter how much you plan, it’s important to be a planner too,
but no matter how much you plan there’s always going to be a hiccup and so you have
to be nimble [quick] and quick and on your feet and ready to handle it at any time. Narrator: To see artwork at federal buildings
across the country, visit Learn about art and art history at the National
Gallery of Art’s NGA Kids Art Zone at And to find out about other jobs and careers,

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