5 Things I learned as a Teen Intern at Sarasota Art Museum

Gabrielle Mizak

By Gabrielle Mizak 
SAM TAC 2022-23

1. Contemporary art can be just as good as classical art

Before SAM TAC, I had an overall negative viewpoint of contemporary art because I dislike the works of a few artists, such as Banksy, Jeff Koons, and Damien Hirst, who see art as a business to be conquered, which is a value I don’t hold. I saw more value in classical art because I hadn’t made an effort to understand modern and contemporary art, or to find an artist I could emotionally connect to. My close-minded attitude prevented me from learning about artists whom I now love because I thought the entire movement was not worthy due to a few bad apples. Through working with SAM, I have come to learn and understand why contemporary art exists and why it matters. I have gained a new and deep appreciation for an artform that I once sought out solely to hate.
Having a real understanding of modern art has also given me a broad knowledge of all the things art can be — it doesn’t have to be one thing put into a neat little box.

My New Favorite Contemporary Art

Visual Artist - Antoinette Zwirchmayr

Antoinette Zwirchmayr, Jean Luc Nancy (still), 2018,
16mm screened as digital video, color, sound, 5 min.
Antoinette Zwirchmayr, At the edge of the curtain, 2022,
16 mm lilm, 4 min.

Permformance Artist Marina Abramovic

Ulay and Marina Abramović’s at Abramovic’s, “The Artist is Present”, 2010, Museum of Modern Art
Ulay and Marina Abramović’s at Abramovic’s, “The Artist is Present”, 2010,
Museum of Modern Art
Marina Abramovic, Rhythm 0, 1974, Tate
Marina Abramovic, Rhythm 0, 1974, Tate Modern

2. Creativity and fun outweighs being perfect at art

Because I work in visual mediums and not physical art, the best thing I can draw is a stick figure. Although I don’t have much knowledge of art forms such as drawing, painting, or sculpting, I have found that I now find enjoyment in them.

I admire what the children who come to open studios can come up with just with cardboard and glue and I want to apply that same principle to how I think about creating my own art. Art can look like a mess of feathers, googly eyes, and markers, and still hold valuable meaning and creativity.

Change and awareness can be pushed forward by artists expressing their experiences and ideas. Spaces for this expression are beautiful and necessary.

My own bad art

Art by Gabrielle Mizak
Art by Gabrielle Mizak
Art by Gabrielle Mizak

3. Getting involved in the art world as a teenager matters

Through SAM TAC, I have made many valuable friendships and connections that will be great to use as references in the future. The relationships I have built are based around the art scene in the local community, which is ideal for a teenager just starting out. You can make your way up to a larger scene using smaller, but deep connections.
Scrollathon with Steven and William Ladd at Sarasota Art Museum

4. Surround yourself with people who will support your passion

SAM TAC has given me an environment that is built around creatives and artists alike, so I get the best experience out of the program possible. The contrast between an environment of non-creative people and art minded people is surprisingly striking. I benefit most from people who view art and creativity as a highly valuable quality, and suffer from those who don’t. For teenagers wanting to get a glimpse of a career in the art world, SAM is perfect as a small example for a large and vast industry.
SAM TAC students at Journeys to Places Known and Unknown: Moving Images by Janet Biggs and peter campus
SAM TAC students at Force Field by Odili Donald Odita on the Museum's Jan Schmidt Loggia
SAM TAC students at Force Field by Odili Donald Odita on the Museum's Jan Schmidt Loggia

5. Viewing art in a museum setting is not an olympic sport

Before becoming a teen intern at SAM, the only museum I’d ever visited was The Ringling Museum. SAM TAC also focuses on how to view, discuss, and effectively critique art, which I didn’t have much experience with prior to my time there. I never used to read the text blurbs when looking at a piece, but now I always do to better understand it with information about the meaning of the piece and the artist’s intentions. The main thing I have learned is to slow down and really try to take in an artwork instead of quickly looking at it and moving on. It’s meant for you to deeply look into it with your head and not just gaze at it with your eyes.

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