Meet Danielle Siemens, Collections Manager and Curatorial Associate at your AGA.
Hi Danielle! Tell us about what you do at the Art Gallery of Alberta!
I manage the AGA’s collection of over 6000 objects, which means I oversee all new acquisitions, daily maintenance of our art storage, and the administrative work for artworks that go on exhibition at the AGA or on loan to other galleries. I also curate some of the AGA’s exhibitions and assist with other curatorial work such as publications and programs.
How does one become Collections Manager/Curatorial Associate? What education, skills or abilities are required?
I studied Art History and have experience working at the National Gallery of Canada and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. At those galleries, I learned more about working in collections including how to handle and catalogue works of art as well as strengthen my research and writing skills. One of the most important skills in managing a collection is organization and close attention to detail!
With over 6,000 objects to choose from, do you have a favourite piece from the AGA collection?
Violet Owen, Butterfly, 1990, oil on canvas. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection, gift of the Artist in appreciation of Lelde Muelenbachs and the Art Associates for @Art For All@, 1990
This is such a difficult question! But some of my favourites are the works by Edmonton artist Violet Owen. I’ve always admired her expressive renderings of the female form.
You’ve been involved in many exhibitions, do you have a favourite?
Boarder X Preview Party, 2019, Art Gallery of Alberta
One of my favourite exhibitions was Boarder X, which was curated by Jaimie Isaac of the Winnipeg Art Gallery and brought together the work of Indigenous artists who surf, skate and snowboard. For the opening, we built a half pipe in the AGA’s Manning Hall and invited skateboarders, both new and experienced, to skate inside the gallery all weekend long. It brought new communities into the gallery and turned the front hall into such a dynamic space! Alongside the exhibition, I had the opportunity to plan some of the public programs including Community Tours with Dusty LeGrande, the owner and creative director of streetwear brand Mobilize ᐊᐧᐢᑲᐁᐧᐃᐧᐣ, and artist Micheal Langan, whose skateboard designs speak to the history of colonialism in Canada.
Can you “show and tell” a piece of artwork you have at home?
Marigold Santos, Shroud (of Promising), 2016, ink on paper. Courtesy of the Artist.
I have a small but growing personal collection of art and last year I purchased an ink-drawing by the Calgary-based artist and tattooist Marigold Santos, whose work was featured in a 2019 RBC New Works exhibition. I was really drawn to the motif of the shroud as something both concealing and revealing. I also love the delicacy of the floral background.