Thursday, August 31, 2017

Staff Spotlight: The Poetic Talents of Chevelyn Curtis

Chevelyn Curtis

If you’ve ever explored the Georgia Museum of Art, chances are that you’ve seen Chevelyn Curtis countless times. Although she often comes off as shy and reserved, those who know her know that she has a great sense of humor as well as a contagious smile to go with it. Her friendly personality allows anyone around her to feel comfortable and welcome. Chevelyn has been working at the museum for years, first as a part-time security guard and now as a full-time security guard. Recently, she created her own blog to showcase her poetry: Chevelyn was kind enough to sit down with us and give us some backstory about her writing and experiences.

How long have you been writing poetry?

I started in my sophomore year in high school, so about… 13 years? I don’t write as much as I used to though. I’m always busy.

Reading your poetry, we see that a few of them seem to revolve around the theme of love. Do you often hesitate to post something so intimate online?

Not really. This is actually the first time that I’ve actually posted anything online. I’ve entered contests—I never won—but every poem that I sent in has been published in a book. I’m pretty used to my work being out there for the public to see.

Some people use poetry as an outlet. There’s no denying that putting your heart on a sheet of paper can result in so much relief, whether emotional or mental. Is that why you write?

Yes. I was teased a lot so, I reached a breaking point and almost thought about committing suicide. I found writing—and the fun thing is that it was a school assignment, and I ended up liking it. I was able to write off the top of my head. I didn’t need to think about it. 

On your site, the first thing you see is a headline that reads: “My Love for Poetry Will Hopefully Inspire You in Some Way.” If you desire that readers take something away from your writing, what do you want it to be?

I’m hoping that it’ll inspire people to write more and express themselves. If my poem could help them in any way, I’m all for that too. Actually, I do have a poem about being teased that I will be posting soon.

Does being a security guard for the Georgia Museum of Art fuel your artistic side? I imagine that poets would love to be around beautiful art because both serve to tell stories.

Honestly, no. I do like the paintings we have here, but they don’t really inspire me or fuel me to write.

Is it hard for you to be so vulnerable on paper and then to upload your innermost thoughts for even strangers to see? Does that kind of courage come naturally to you? Or is it something you had to work toward?

I’m definitely still working on that. I’m very shy and I’m like… the quiet one. Unless I’m comfortable around you. Then I’m a completely different person. This takes a lot of courage because it took me a long time to actually act on this. I’ve been thinking about making a blog for the longest. 

In your biography on your website, you thank viewers for making your dreams come true. What exactly are your dreams and aspirations?

Well, my main goal was to publish a book of my poems. However, I kept hitting roadblocks with that because I didn’t want to spend a lot of money to get it done and I didn’t have the money for it anyway. So that’s when the blog idea popped into my head. But my goal, in short, is to just get my poetry out there. The only downside to writing my own book would be the book tours and reading in front of people. I hate public speaking.

On your blog in your introduction page, you mention that you’ve endured bullying. Thankfully, you found writing. What advice do you have to people who also endure hardships that you’ve endured?

Well, I couldn’t escape harassment because I got it at school and at home. I didn’t have an outlet, and one day I told my mom about the assignment and she just told me to write what I felt. Doing that really helped, so I would say, “find an outlet.” You can write, draw, or sing… Do whatever you can to get it out.

Marq Norris
Intern, Department of Communications

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Jason Hubbard Is Making a Living Work of Art

Jason Hubbard poses in his garden with the Horace Farlowe sculpture

For those who have walked along the south side of the Georgia Museum of Art over the past years, you might have noticed a dead and forgotten patch of land transform into a lush and calming garden niche. At the heart of that transformation is Jason Hubbard of UGA's Facilities Management Division, a true gardener if there ever was one. He has been digging in the dirt for more than 18 years, and it’s apparent he tends to his gardens with the utmost care, making sure to meet the specific needs of each plant. You can often find him in a broad-brimmed, straw hat, enveloped in his garden searching for weeds or taking a break to talk plants with home gardeners who pass by.

At one point, Jason only managed the giant circular pots by the main entrance, but 4 years ago he noticed an abandoned space just around the corner and took the initiative to rehabilitate it. The first step was to remove a dying dogwood and nurse another back to health. Then he began transferring perennials from other locations on campus where the foliage might have been too thick. Over the years, he has developed the garden with minimal budget, only receiving funds for nursery-born plants last fall. For Jason, little gardens like this one are his opportunity to contribute the greatest good. 

As a conscientious gardener, he keeps the space mostly organic except for a well-considered dose of pesticides on occasion. With the prevalence of concrete in mind, Jason has made a pollinator habitat so that vital pollinators like bees, wasps and hummingbirds have a sort of oasis. He considers what kinds of birds and insects certain plants cater to, and when discussing the give and take of pesticides with him, it becomes evident that the garden is a delicately balanced environment. That balance was enhanced this past summer with the installation of a marble sculpture by Horace Farlowe, a past UGA professor who made significant contributions to the growth of the sculpture department (you can find out more about that sculpture here). Jason’s garden proved to be an ideal location for the sculpture’s debut at the museum. He coordinated with the concrete pourers for the optimal location, and in the spring he will have the opportunity to uproot and reorganize plants to frame the new centerpiece.

Ben Thrash interviewing Jason Hubbard
Once just a patch of mulch, a beautiful garden now accompanies the museum’s southern entrance. It is with the utmost gratitude that we thank Jason Hubbard for his care and initiative in transforming the space. What used to be a common and forgettable corner has now become activated and lively, so if you happen to see a man in a straw hat when you walk by, be sure and stop to say thanks!

Benjamin Thrash
Intern, Department of Communications

Thursday, August 17, 2017

From the Publications Office: Using the Study Centers

When you're reading a book, you probably don't think too much about where all the materials in it came from or how they were compiled. A large part of the process of creating something visually exciting for you to hold in your hands consists of tracking down material to illustrate the final result. Sometimes (a lot of times, in fact) that means contacting museums and other lenders to get them to supply high-resolution photographs of works of art. But what if you have a book that's mostly text? How do you give it some visual flair? A lot of that is up to the graphic designer, and the Georgia Museum of Art works with many talented freelance designers, who have won countless awards for their projects with us. In the case of "Louise Blair Daura: A Virginian in Paris" (which opens at the end of September and has a large book to accompany it), we were lucky enough to have the Pierre Daura Study Center close at hand.

The study center includes an amazing trove of material produced by both Pierre Daura and his American wife, Louise Blair Daura, the focus of this upcoming exhibition. The book will include her letters home from Paris to her family in Virginia written from 1928 to 1930, giving wonderful and witty insight on the art and social scene of the time. It also makes use of family photographs in the archive, Louise's creative projects (valentines, for example) and even passports, as in the snapshots here. We wanted some of the script font in the book to resemble Louise's actual signature, which can be small or blurry or written in an abbreviated form in the letters. A passport is a perfect place to get a nice, clear signature.

Other times, as with the image above, Louise makes reference in her letters to a drawing, so we needed to pull the actual letters and scan them to extract her sketches. Going through these pages and family photos gives one an even better feel for the daily life of these people than reading about them in a book, but we're doing our best to capture that feel for everyone who reads the final product.

The contents of the archive are listed through the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, online. To make an appointment to use the archive, you can call the museum's main line, at 706.542.4662 or email

Thursday, August 10, 2017


A new UGA student at orientation

As usual, the museum's department of communications had a busy summer. While much of UGA slows down from May to early August, and a good parking space is easy to find in downtown Athens, the university also runs orientation for the thousands of freshmen, transfer students and graduate students who will start classes next week. We want them at least to know the museum exists, so we show up and work a table at every orientation session: 15 for freshmen, 4 for transfer students, 1 for graduate students, 1 for international students and 1 for new faculty.

Our lovely volunteer with our Snapchat poster

We spent much of the summer hauling around our red wagon filled with copies of Facet, a tablecloth, a pop-up banner and our brand-new trifold brochure aimed at attracting people to the building (you can look for the latter at the Athens Welcome Center, the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau and welcome centers around the state). Some times were slow, and we had a chance to observe the latest in 18-year-old fashion or enjoy some quality time with Corny the corn snake, who accompanies the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources to some sessions. We made new friends, both among the new students and among our fellow tablers. Other times were busy, and we got to deliver our spiel about the museum to dozens of people streaming by our table. We hope some of it sunk in. If students can remember that there's a museum on campus, we're doing our job.

We also decorated a dorm room, for the third year in a row. University Housing puts a call out for different departments on campus to spruce up its tour rooms during orientation, so they don't look as spartan. We always have fun trying to make our room look lived in but attractive, and our placement in Building 1516, which is just down the street from the museum, helps us make our case that students should get out and experience everything UGA has to offer. We're eager for the start of the new academic year, and with students moving into the dorms this week, we've already seen an uptick in foot traffic. We know we're not the first to say it, but welcome, new folks!

The museum's dorm room in Building 1516

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Morning Mindfulness Program Is a Zen-sation

A Morning Mindfulness class taking place in the galleries

A monk, a professor of human development and family science and an assistant curator of education walk into an art gallery. While this scenario may sound like the introduction to an atrocious joke, it has happened at the Georgia Museum of Art as part of a program called Morning Mindfulness that recently received a grant from the Hemera Foundation.

Morning Mindfulness is organized by the education department at the Georgia Museum of Art. The secular program leads participants on a journey through different contemplative techniques including mindfulness, meditation, reflection and yoga, all of which take place in the museum’s galleries. No experience is necessary, no special attire is needed, and yoga mats and meditation pillows are provided. The event is free and open to the public, although reservations are encouraged (at 706.542.0448 or

Each program is led by an experienced instructor who might incorporate specific works of art or simply focus on a specific contemplative practice. Morning Mindfulness participants include university students, professors, community members and museum staff. Each program attracts around 20 to 40 people, including both new faces and regulars.

The program was started in 2015 in collaboration with Dr. Jerry Gale, a professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, and has since grown and also received state and national attention, recently winning the 2017 Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries Education Program Award.

The Hemera Foundation is a philanthropic organization interested in supporting human growth and well-being. It generously provides funds to programs and research that relate to the intersection of contemplative practices and the arts, like Morning Mindfulness. The grant the museum received was part of a cohort of grants the Hemera Foundation provided to museums in an effort to support the growing number of museum programs nationwide that incorporate contemplative practices into their educational programming. At the Georgia Museum of Art, the grant will help support current the mindfulness program, as well as additional workshops and events. It will also send museum staff to a conference in September facilitated by Hemera. The conference brings together museum professionals from across the United States who run mindfulness programs to share best practices and future opportunities for contemplative art education.

Assistant curator of education Sage Kincaid, who manages the program and will attend the conference in September, said, “The main goal of Morning Mindfulness is to encourage museum visitors to slow down and take time to focus on being in the present moment. By spending uninterrupted time in the museum’s galleries, many participants find that they have more satisfying experiences with works of art, feel calmer and learn techniques that are useful in our busy lives.”

If you find yourself stressed during the school year due to classes, work or whatever else is going on in your life, do yourself a favor and check out Morning Mindfulness, which starts up again on August 25 at 9:30 a.m. It could be just the break you need.

Stephanie Motter
Intern, Department of Communications