Paige Dansinger is a fine artist and art historian who uses social media to teach art history. Her innovative design of #DrawArt, a multi-user projection and mobile learning experience has awarded her attention in ARTnews and inclusion in Gutai: Splendid Playground, Card Box, at the Guggenheim Museum, NY. Paige is a gifted museum educator and is considered an innovator in visitor engagement. Paige’s takes a unique approach and her insights made this interview an especially interesting one that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
I loved working, interning and volunteering at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (@artsmia) from 2005-2012. I was a student intern Curator in the Judaica Gallery, an intern and volunteer Assisting the Main Registrar of Collections and was employed as a Teacher for Youth Programs, Art-in-the-Park, Family Days, Festivals and Teen Workshops.
This summer I decided to stake a risk and step away of my safe place in the museum and devote myself full-time to developing my interests in creating Digital Museum Games and as a studio fine artist. In this time, I have created #DrawArt, a museum engagement mobile and in-gallery projection experience. I am using it draw famous art from museums. It was my idea to use drawing, art in museums and social media to teach art history. As a result, ARTnews just highlighted me as an Artist to Follow on Instagram.
With #DrawArt I also created a collection of works that are included in an exhibition, Gutai: Splendid Playground, at the Guggenheim that just opened Friday, Feb 15th.
I’m also currently using it to draw Avatars for the convention speakers and presenters for the annual meeting for Museums and the Web. I am a painter and studio artist. I am a prolific painter and apply the medium with my fingers. However, I have recently started to paint plates as well- and love doing them!! I’m living an artist’s dream by supporting myself & 12 yr old son – this weekend we were both involved in a Valentine’s Hot Iron Pour at Franconia Sculpture Park, a 20 acre park & open-air studio in rural (frozen) Minnesota.
What’s your educational background?
I have a BFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD ’93). I focused on Paintings, Printmaking, Sculpture, Performance and Fashion. After art school I opened an art gallery in Taos, New Mexico. I returned to Minneapolis 9 years ago and accomplished a MA in Art History in 2010. My research specializes on art history that relates to Jewish life from a feminine perspective. My future goal is to work on a PhD in Digital Innovations; my other interests are making Jewish Art History iPad museum games & immersive gallery experiences… and to keep painting!
What was your ‘sticky’ moment?
I don’t have a sticky moment as much as a complete career low. I once took a horrible job at Michael’s Craft Store demonstrating how to make Christmas Wreaths. I tried to make the most of it by secretly trying to out-do Martha Stewart each day. However, it was at this time that I felt farthest from my dreams and goals. This experience did benefit me later as a Volunteer Assistant to the Main Registrar at MIA when it was time to decorate the Period Rooms for Holiday Traditions. I have also found that sharing a secret career low point and learning other’s poor experiences in emerging museum careers, has offered me the opportunity to connect personally and be inspired by some great leaders in museums and the arts.
What is the name of your blog? How long have you been blogging?
My current blog, museumpaige, was started right before AAM Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, May 2012. I created it to try to welcome other museum professionals to my city with a game I had made up with the iPhone game Draw Something that I had just started to play with a couple weeks prior to the conference. My idea was to engage people on Twitter to “Find Art In the Museum” – I took my first drawings of famous art from the MIA and the Walker and tried to get people to find them during the weekend and tweet the real work back to me. No one did this but I thought it was cool and a playful way of sharing art from my museums here.
What do you blog about? Why?
After AAM was Minnesota Museums Month. I dedicated myself to visiting a Museum-A-Day and then blogging about it. Museum-A-Day transitioned into posting mostly new photos I drew of art in museums on my iPhone and the progress of creating #DrawArt. I also have a bit about exploring ideas for games for Jewish art history.
I want to make a game about a 14th C. young woman who lives in Erfurt, Germany, the site of a historic Black Plague massacre in 1349. In the 18th century, a recovered treasure trove of manuscripts, coins, jewels and ritual object includes a communal wedding ring used by that town’s Jewish brides. This game is based on the ring in the Erfurt Treasure.
In this game, the woman needs to evade death, plague and violent mobs and find all the ritual object in town. She visits the market, synagogue, ritual bath and other places to recover objects while learning more about 14th C. architecture and life. She “powers-up” by making ethical choices based on Jewish law found in original texts and in Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. When she recovers all the objects she must hide them in a safe spot before she meets her fate. I have ideas for many more games like this that use art history to teach social values, antisemitism and genocide issues, as well as cross-cultural transglobal, diaspora and identity related games.
What’s the last thing you bought at a museum gift shop?
A Neon Yellow C4 Belt at the Walker Art Center’s gift shop for my 12 year old son that I ended up wearing. He loves visiting museum gift shops!
If you didn’t work in a museum what would you be doing?
Exactly what I am doing. Devoting myself to my art, and building relationships with museums, mentoring teens, writing proposals, researching PhD programs and more museum jobs. I love working in the studio and in a museum. I can not imagine not visualizing new innovations, seeing engaging opportunities to connect with others and to relate myself passionately with art, wonder and creativity.
Where do you see museums in 10 years?
I think it’s an exciting time for museums. We will likely see more cultural phenomena such as Walker Art Center’s Cat Video Fest and other fun community engagement events. I would like to see existing institutions re-examine their collections in new cultural contexts and redefine democracy, value and content in museums. I would also like to see more female museum directors.
Name the last professional development book you read. Would you recommend it?
I read mostly everything I can on Twitter lately. However, aside for books with topics on Jewish art history which I can never get tired of, I do have a few Professional Development books next to my bed: AAM’s Mobile Apps for Museums, Ed. Nancy Proctor, Reality Is Broken by Jane McGonigal, Identity and Museum Visitor Experience by John H. Falk, and others, but I really prefer just reading about art in books and new digital innovations on Twitter.
Share one piece of advice for those interested in working in the museum field:
I would tell them exactly what my first museum mentor told me one day when I shared a big goal with her. The Judaica curator I interned for looked at me in the eye and said “I believe you can do anything.” Her confidence in me was all I needed from to go forward with courage and determination to succeed.
Wow… Thanks for participating in Meet a Museum Blogger, Paige! Thank you (especially) for sharing your career low with us – I think this is something a number of museum professionals can identify with – especially those trying to get a foot in the door, sometimes for a second time, or those simply in an awkward transition phase.
Do you #DrawArt on Instagram? What do you think about Paige’s attempts to explode the idea of engagement? What engagement techniques are you using (or would like to use) in your museum?
In case you missed it, Paige blogs at museumpaige. Do you have any additional questions for Paige regarding her profile above? Feel free to start a conversation in the comments below or reach out to her directly on Twitter. Her Twitter handle is @museumpaige. I highly encourage you to use the #MuseumBlogger hashtag. TY!
Are you interested in being profiled or know someone who would be? Send an email to MuseumMinute@gmail.com.