Photo: Robbie O’Halloran
This summer, incoming Queen’s University junior Robbie O’Halloran was chosen among dozens of applicants for the Programme/Outreach Assistant internship at the AGM. He studied for a year at Herstmonceaux Castle in East Sussex, England, and is currently taking Art History at Queen’s. A long-time conceptual artist and aspiring gallery director, Robbie has been instrumental in promoting the AGM Golf Tournament and helping the AGM with our new social media endeavours.
Ten Questions with Robbie O’Halloran, Part 1
1. How did you hear about the Programme/Outreach Assistant summer position at the AGM, and why did you apply?
This position was pretty well a godsend. I decided kind of in a rush to move home from Kingston, about a month into summer after working as a Research Assistant for the Autism Studies Team at Queen’s (don’t ask me why), and part-time at Urban Outfitters. My original goal was to transfer to the Toronto location of the store where I worked and score myself a bunch of volunteer gallery positions, and pretty well anything I could get my hands on. So I looked at www.workinculture.ca, and when I discovered the Programme/Outreach Assistant position here at the AGM, my heart skipped a few beats. I knew it had to be mine: Five minutes from my house, contemporary, A-grade, a small staff, PAID, there was no better way to get my foot in the door.
2. How do you like working here so far? What do you like best about it?
I’m obsessed with it. I have learned so much about everything that goes into running a successful gallery, and given the small yet astounding staff here at the AGM, I have been able to actively participate in all areas of gallery work: From admin, to installation, curation, media marketing, fundraising, networking, and most importantly wine drinking (that was a half-joke).
3. You grew up in Mississauga, and are now studying in Queen’s University in Kingston. How would you describe the art scene in both cities? How about the art scene in Toronto?
The visual art scene in Mississauga is growing. One of the downfalls of living on the border of Toronto where anything and everything is happening is that few people look here for opportunity. Young people from Mississauga tend to immediately look east, however as this city continues to grow and develop the dynamism of larger, global cities, I think that dynamism will transfer over to the energy of its citizens. Mississauga is very much in a state of flux, and like Hegel, I also believe that contradiction is at the root of all movement in life; it is within such environments that creativity will always spring up. We just have to keep our eyes, and our minds, open.
The arts community in Kingston, is small yet strong. One of the benefits of existing geographically between Montreal and Toronto, and so close to Ottawa is a spill-over of creativity. Galleries in Kingston receive a lot of attention from Toronto and Montreal-based artists and I think that the support Queen’s also play a big role in that. Further, Kingston has quite an interesting feel, and for its smaller size, it houses such a huge variety of people, that it can’t help but breed creativity. You can find almost everything that Toronto has in Kingston, just in a smaller size. In terms of art in Canada, Toronto is just incomparable, I’ll leave it at that.
4. Tell me about your program at Queen’s University. How’d you decide to get into that program? What do you hope to do with your degree in the future?
I’m an Art History major at Queen’s, and I’m also completing a minor in Sociology, and I’m working towards earning my International Studies Certificate as well. It’s taken a bit of soul-searching, and a year abroad, but I’m finally on the right path. In the future, I’m going to continue working at galleries, and eventually start a business and open my own gallery (the details are top secret), whilst working towards a PhD. After that, I’m going to become the director of the Guggenheim in New York, no joke.
5. How do you think working at the AGM will help you towards your future career goals?
Working at the AGM thus far has been an incredible experience, and landing this position was a huge step in getting my foot in the door. Everyone here is sensational, and I hope to one day be able to repay them for this opportunity and for everything I have learned so far. I will only go up from here, and I expect big things in the future.