Career Night for the Arts Alumni Feature: Lauren Pollock ’07, Gallery Director

by Rachel Lee

Meet Lauren Pollock from the BC class of 2007! Pollock is currently the Gallery Director of the Leila Heller Gallery in New York City (read more about the Gallery, with locations in New York and Dubai, here).

Career Night for the Arts 2016! Come join us on Thursday, November 16th between 7:00pm – 8:30pm in the Heights Room to meet tons of BC alumni working in the arts to network, ask questions, and get advice about developing your own creative career! Check out the Arts Council Career Night for the Arts website for more info, or look at the Facebook event page! This event is a collaborative endeavor between the Arts Council, the Career Center, and the Alumni Association, bringing together all of BC’s best resources to help BC students turn their creativity into a career. You can also read the bios of all of the attending alumni here. 

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Lauren Pollock graduated from Boston College in 2007, with a degree in Art History. She continued her graduate studies at Hunter College in New York City, and completed a 6-month internship at The Jewish Museum where she assisted with the exhibition Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater1919-1949. Currently she is Director of Leila Heller Gallery, an art gallery specializing in contemporary international art with locations in New York City and Dubai. There she oversees the gallery’s ambitious exhibition and art fair programme, manages artist relationships, and helps to organize numerous off-site projects. Currently she is serving as the editor of a forthcoming book on the work of Shiva Ahmadi, to be published in 2017.

What is your most memorable art-related experience at BC and could you describe what you learned from it? 

Definitely the many afternoons spent at the MFA [Museum of Fine Arts, Boston]! It is so wonderful that the Art Department at BC takes advantage of having so many amazing museums and institutions at its fingertips. The time I spent engaging directly with works of art for coursework was immensely inspiring and a driving force behind my decision to pursue a career in the arts.

In today’s fast-changing art world, what are some of the biggest changes you have witnessed during your career? 

The accessibility to art, or more specifically to images of art. Art enthusiasts, collectors and the general public now have vast resources for viewing art online and via social media. Already just in the number of years that I have been working in the gallery world, I feel there has been a noticeable change in how art is experienced. While there are many advantages to this of course, I hope that galleries and museums continue to remain spaces of learning, enjoyment and social engagement!

As a director of a contemporary art gallery, what is the most rewarding part of your job? 

Being able to work closely with so many amazing and talented artists. There is a great feeling of fulfillment in seeing a project or exhibition of their work to fruition, especially one that is well received publicly and critically.

Some of our artists have also had really fantastic public installation projects, which are especially exciting to work on…You feel the work is able to have this whole other life outside of the gallery! One of our artists currently has a large-scale outdoor sculpture featured in a public park in the city of Chicago, presented through the Chicago Parks District. Knowing that countless people pass by that work every day is pretty special!

What are some of the qualities or skills that you feel will help a BC student succeed in today’s art museum/gallery field?

Being passionate, driven and curious I think are all very important qualities to have! And definitely being proactive and engaged. For anyone seriously interested in pursuing a career in the arts, my advice is to just get out there: see art, visit museums and galleries, connect with people who are in the field, and ask questions!

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BC Students: Don’t forget to check out all of the amazing artistic alumni attending Career Night for the Arts 2016, and make sure to read our interviews with Maureen Donovan, the Deputy Director of Harvard Art Museums; Eric Butler, Theatre Producer; Erin Dionne, Author; Karen Stein, Art Director and Principal Designer at goodgood; Daron Manoogian, the Communications Director of Harvard Art Museums; and Stephen Zubricki III, Principal Designer for Mystic View Design, Inc.  Meet these alumni and more at Career Night for the Arts, Thursday November 17th, 2016 at 7-8:30pm in the Heights Room!

Roaming the Roman Provinces: Night at the McMullen Museum

By Kristen Mabie

Mosaic floor with geometric design; courtesy of the McMullen museum.

Mosaic floor with geometric design; courtesy of the McMullen museum.

Unlike a computer from a decade ago that has been rendered virtually useless in society, art from thousands of years ago has not lost its ability to captivate. The McMullen Museum proved this with their most recent exhibition, Roman in the Provinces, produced in collaboration with Yale University where the exhibition was on display last autumn. The idea for this exhibition was born after the last co-op exhibit between Yale and Boston College showcased ancient works in 2011 and the two universities were inspired to create an exhibition that explores the limitations and concepts of Roman art as it relates to Roman provinces.

Entering the McMullen Museum the evening of the opening of Roman in the Provinces, I was immediately engrossed in shades of taupe and soft, warm earth tones created by the interior of the museum and the composition of mosaics, sculptures and architectural fragments erected in Europe as early as the beginning of the Common Era. The works on display, ranging from architecture that more clearly relates to imperial Rome, to the more subtle aspects of provincial life such as what glassware was placed out for dinner guests, allow the viewer to explore many aspects of the Roman Provinces – each as intriguing as the last. It did not take me long to realize this exhibition was not going to cater to the traditional impression of art in the Roman Empire; within the alcoves of the upper floor alone I found art from many regions ranging from Italy, to modern-day Turkey and the United Kingdom. Having such a wide range of art in one place creates a visual timeline for the viewer to explore spanning hundreds of years and multiple regions.

The longer I wandered through the exhibition, examining the tiny treasures in the farthest corners of the museum, the more guests arrived. At each piece, small groups gathered to have hushed conversations, the mysterious nature of the art causing almost every visitor to pause and read the sign, pouring over the stories of each object’s former life. I overheard a woman ask, “What is this beautiful thing?”  which was surely the question on everybody’s lips. With furrowed brows, each guest walked curiously from piece to piece. I’m confident I appeared as curious as all the other guests as I examined a small, silver statuette that vaguely reminded me of Edgar Degas’s dancers.

Figurine of a seated dancer; courtesy of the McMullen Museum

Figurine of a seated dancer; courtesy of the McMullen Museum

Though the exhibition takes place in an art museum, and the artifacts are undoubtedly works of art, the experience at Roman in the Provinces is as much about anthropological and historical learning as it is about art history. There is something uniquely absurd  about standing in front of an article of clothing from nearly 2,000 years ago. I struggled to comprehend the idea that these objects were masterfully preserved since the times of late antiquity and their paths have brought them here, to the campus of Boston College. Reading about a linen tunic belonging to a child in 6th-8th century Egypt, I was stunned – it was in perfect condition. Over the course of the evening, I watched multiple other guests become enamored with the tunic, with the child you can imagine running around in it, ancient history suddenly becoming not a dusty relic but something tangibly human. Standing inches from an artifact like that tunic, or the beautiful, expansive mosaics also on display, it is impossible to conceive the amount of history that has occurred between this artwork’s creation and the thoughts you have looking at it.

Almost an hour into the exhibition, Nancy Netzer, the museum’s director, gave a talk and I gathered, along with all the other guests, among the ancient busts. As I looked around me, between the heads of students and faculty members were marble sculptures of deities and elites from the Roman Empire – quite the gathering of individuals! Professor Gail Hoffman, another of the evening’s speakers, expressed that the exhibit was designed to invite visitors to these provinces and urge them to ask, “What did it mean to be Roman there?” The exhibit encourages visitors to reconsider their perceptions of the Roman Empire and look deeper, allowing each object to tell its story.