Monika Kuder ’11 has a knack for tools.
Every few months for two weeks you’ll find Kuder perched on a ladder, hammering, drilling holes or painting the walls in The Galleries at Moore.
Kuder, a Curatorial Studies alumni, enjoys working part-time in the galleries, helping to install and de-install exhibitions while working with artists and students.
“Since I was a kid I always worked with tools, helping my dad around the house,” she said. “I think I was the only one in our graduating class [of curatorial studies majors] that chose to minor in Fine Arts-3D. I took small metals and welding. I like constructing things and making stuff.”
Kuder began her time in The Galleries as a work-study student after transferring to Moore as a sophomore from the University of Houston. After graduating from Moore, she stayed on in The Galleries.
“Since I was a Curatorial Studies major at the time, I figured I would work in the galleries and observe, see what I could do,” she said. “The Mary McFadden exhibit was up and they had me touch up paint and dust mantles and eventually it just bloomed into more responsibility.”
Any given week on the job can involve de-installing the current show, packing up the art and returning it to the artist or institution, cleaning the gallery, painting the walls – all before the date that a new artist is coming in with his or her new artwork. Then Kuder, along with two other installers, unpacks the new artwork, is given a floor layout, gets all the hardware together and begins installing the new show.
Her favorite part of the installation process, Kuder said, is “meeting the artist and talking to him or her about their art, getting a sense of what they want out of it, and hopefully we hit that on target,” she said. “Some artists are really demanding and some are flexible and are looking for us to help answer their questions. We don’t decide for them, we just guide them. It’s their art and how it sits is their decision [and the Gallery director’s].”
Kuder learned about Moore while attending a portfolio day in Houston, Texas in search of a College that offered curatorial studies at the BFA level. There were none. Moore’s is the first undergraduate program of its kind in the country.
“When I found Moore, I said I’m definitely going there,” she said. ``If this is something you want to do as a career [curatorial studies], it’s a good foundation versus just a background in fine arts. I wanted to work with artists within a gallery and be part of a group that puts it all together…I liked the group we had here. It was a small class and we wrestled and played and had ideas and pushed down walls. Most of my group was pretty ambitious. We were all likeminded and go-getters.”
Kuder is still a go-getter today. Besides her work at Moore, she holds down three other jobs, including a freelance writing job for a private art collector opening up a gallery.
“No matter where I go, I always want to keep my hands in the arts,” she said. “Working at the gallery keeps me there and my freelance work keeps me there. It taps into something that answers an itch that I have.”
Kuder finds it particularly gratifying helping artists and students “think around the corners” when it comes to their artwork.
“I think that installation is the last thing people think about and it should really be the first,” she said. “I’m not looking for my name on the wall. I’m looking at someone else’s name on the wall. That’s where I’m a regular Joe. I’m not looking to make a splash.”