Meet Ryan Dennis, ’09 Program Intern

October 16, 2014

We recently caught up with Ryan Dennis, 2009 Program Intern and current Public Art Director of Project Row Houses in Houston, Texas, to find out what she’s been up to since her internship.

 

In addition to being an amazing intern back when The LP had a full-time staff of one, she also served on our 2014 Artist & Community Council AND is the newest member of our Catalyst Circle! Thanks, Ryan, for your ongoing support and for being a great friend of the organization!

 

Read on to find out more!

 

What year did you intern at The LP?

2009.

 

What was your position title?

Program Intern.

 

Were you in school at the time? If so, where and in what year of your studies? If not, what were you doing with the rest of your time?

At the time of my internship, I was a graduate student at Pratt Institute completing my Master’s degree in Arts and Cultural Management.

 

Why did you want to intern with us?

I loved the idea of having folks that are doing their laundry take a moment to engage with an artist through an art making activity! I was really intrigued by the LP because they confront the idea of access and art making head on. The organization was aligned with my interest and applying for an internship only made sense.

 

What were some of you primary activities while interning with us?

I did anything and everything that Petrushka Bazin Larsen needed assistance with! From volunteer coordination, to preparing for the art auction, to purchasing materials for the artists, to assisting in getting things prepared for the Works in Progress summer program that took place at the Laundry Room on 116th Street in Harlem. The LP was single handedly managed by Petrushka at that time and I supported her and we got a lot done as a team!

 

Where do you currently work?

I am the Public Art Director at Project Row Houses, located in Houston, Texas.

 

What are some of your primary responsibilities in your current position?

As the Public Art Director at Project Row Houses (PRH), there really isn’t anything that I don’t do! I curate Rounds (PRH’s version of exhibitions), work with artists to realize site-specific projects, manage a number of spaces on site, organize special events, and serve as a community liaison between the organization and Third Ward community. The list continues but I will spare you!

 

How did working at The LP prepare you for this opportunity?

It honed in on my time management skills! I know this sounds basic but it is such an important skill to master when working at a small organization that has ambitious programming. Time management is everything!

 

What was a highlight of working with us?

Coming to work everyday and being in such a pleasant, get-the-work done environment was a highlight. No matter how much work we had in a moment’s time, Petrushka and I always took a minute to laugh and express gratitude with the work that was being done. I would also say that having time to build relationships with the artists conducting drop-in workshops and engaging with the Harlem community kept me fueled. It was nice to see all the hard work you did in the office come to life on the street and to be in the presence of a mother and her children doing workshops together…priceless.

 

What advice would you give a future intern about how to get the most out of their experience?

  • Have a passion for the work that you are doing.
  • Don’t wait to have things given to you. If you feel there is a need that you can support, talk to your supervisor and take the initiative!
  • Don’t hesitate to try new things that maybe a bit out of your comfort zone.
  • Be selfless but know your worth.
  • Ask as many questions as you need to.

 

Ryan N. Dennis joined Project Row Houses as Public Art Director in October 2012. Prior to moving back to Houston she worked at the Museum for African Art as the traveling exhibition manager, working on exhibitions including El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa, Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria, and Jane Alexander: Surveys (from the Cape of Good Hope). She received her master’s in Arts and Cultural Management from Pratt Institute, where her research focused on the role of the artist as administrator and cultural producer through residencies and collaborative programming. Prior to moving to New York City, Ryan worked as a community organizer and a curatorial assistant at The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas.