Henry Behind the Scenes: Portrait of the Staff as Artists

Do art museums attract artists as staff? Do you need an affinity for the arts to work at an art museum? Yes, and it helps.

The Henry staff artistic profile
A word cloud representing the staff of the Henry

Of the Henry’s 38 full-time staff, 26 percent are practicing artists. They identify as painters, illustrators, writers, actors, filmmakers, multimedia artists, photographers, or a combination of mediums.

Laura Kinney, a Gallery Service Representative who also works with our prep crew, works with various media including “painting, drawing, assemblage, bookbinding/bookarts, and eglomise (reverse glass).” She also occasionally works with video and dabbles in website design and coding.

Webster Crowell, also on prep crew, is a filmmaker and the creator of Rocketmen the Series which had a phenomenally successful Kickstarter campaign this summer.

WebsterCrowellPhotoByMichaelDoucett
Webster Crowell. Photo By Michael Doucett

When Dustin Engstrom, Executive Assistant to Director Sylvia Wolf, isn’t managing her packed schedule, he’s an actor and playwright.

DustinEngstromPhotoByDavidWulzen
Dustin Engstrom. Photo By David Wulzen

Four of us are non-practicing artists, meaning we were formally trained and have worked as artists in our respective creative fields, but no longer do. We are a musician, fiction writer, photographer, and sculptor.

Nearly 60 percent of our staff considers themselves to have an “artistic nature.” What’s that mean? It’s a wide-ranging field: arts and crafts, textiles, cooking, decorating, art history/critical theory, cinematography, photography, video, digital media, music, printmaking, art writing, drawing, illustrating, acting, gardening, and serving as an artistic liaison/interpreter.

One staff member, when we were discussing how practicing artists often need “day jobs” in the United States, responded passionately, “Being an artist is a professional occupation. We need to recognize the value it has. Creative content is America’s biggest export.”

At the Henry, we believe that originality and creative thought belong to us all: the working artist, the hobbyist, the supporter, and the audience. Our work at the museum inspires us to push past limits and imagine with more daring. What should we write, film, sculpt, or bake next?

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