Community Spotlight: Sandra Abbott
This month’s artist is not an artist… exactly. Sandra Abbott is a resident of the district and the curator of collections & outreach at UMBC’s Center for Art, Design & Visual Culture at her day job at UMBC in Catonsville.
At UMBC Abbott runs the Center's K-12 educational outreach program, which has served over 50 area schools. She also handles the general administration for the extensive exhibition tours the gallery either takes-in, develops, or sends on the road “Working with artists and museums to get everything insured, handled, and shipped on time and under budget is one of the greatest challenges of my job. It’s like being an air traffic controller for art shows.” Abbott also helps with copyright permissions for CADVC's award-winning publication program and enjoys mentoring students. Most of all she likes sharing her enthusiasm for art on educational tours of the gallery’s exhibitions. Abbott is also the current "Firesoul" for the Joseph Beuys Sculpture Park at UMBC. "That means I curate occasional programming for the park, such as last year's TKF-funded Creative Acts, and I generally act as an advocate for the site and related arts or green initiatives."
After growing up in Southeast Baltimore, Sandra Abbott returned to the district after a 16 year hiatus during which time she spent working for museums such as Art Institute of Chicago, the Smithsonian, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, just to name a few. She’s a graduate of Harvard’s Museum Studies program and the Advanced Program at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Her Masters degree is in Art History, though she’s studied painting, drawing, and video/film as well. Since returning to Baltimore, Abbott has been active on various projects in the arts district, such as ha! District Exhibitions the Trashy Art Project and the Pop-Up Gallery.
The Pop-Up gallery opening at Conkling & Bank, Dec. 3, 2011, is the first of three Abbott arranged through a special partnership between UMBC and the Highlandtown Arts & Entertainment District. “I am excited that I was able to connect the students and resources of UMBC to this arts district for such a mutually beneficial project. I hope the relationship will continue to prosper beyond these three pop-up exhibitions.”
“One of my passions is making art accessible for the otherwise uninitiated. I hate to see folks feeling uncomfortable when they visit a gallery or museum. I hope to raise the viewer’s appreciation for art, but let them know that their point of view is valid too. It’s okay not to like everything, but it’s better to be able to articulate you don’t.
In the coming year Sandra Abbott looks forward to the next pop-ups here in the district, working with new artists, and jurying more exhibitions in the community such as this one on altered books at Enoch Pratt Free Library. “I hope to work on additional art projects with the community. I’m glad I live in an arts district, where I can contribute in a way that makes use of my specialized arts skill set.