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…On a personal note from Shana

Thomas at the Nasher Museum of Art, Fall 2014

Thomas at the Nasher Museum of Art, Fall 2014


John Cage said that fear in life is the fear of change. If I may add to that: nothing can avoid changing. It’s the only thing you can count on. . . .everyone can be measured by her/his adaptability to change.

-Robert Rauschenberg

That’s a line of thought I like to say I live by, but I don’t always execute well.

A big change in my personal life is now impacting my professional life. This fall, my family is relocating to Boston. Half of us are already up there. My husband Eric accepted a great new position, and the move will bring us closer to both of our families and friends who are like family.

I therefore must eventually let go of my position as Director of Programs & Exhibitions at Artspace. It’s proving difficult to separate myself from this dear treehouse of a building in downtown Raleigh, full of artists working in their studios and evocative spaces where exhibitions and site-specific installations are staged.

Artspace was the first place I visited on my own as I got to know my new city after having relocated from Boston the summer of 2010. Lia Newman, my predecessor, was friendly, welcoming, and helped me connect to the Raleigh arts community. It’s a place where the process is at the center of everything-the perfect place for a ‘recovering’ perfectionist.

For nearly two years, this job has enabled me to blend work and play in ways that suited me well. By ‘play’ I mean the kind of exploration where you lose yourself, and time flies by unheeded. I’ve adored being a part of Artspace, a part of Raleigh, and a part of this arts community.

My son, who’s 15 months old, is at a stage where his play mimics work, but in a chaos-loving way. He takes objects from cabinets and shifts them to the fridge, or carries things from shelves and places them under the bed. He pulls sorted socks back into two and merrily chucks them each into the tub. As he ‘works,’ he gives satisfied grunts with the same thrilled-while-purposeful tone my voice has after installing a show or completing an essay.

As I watch him, my understanding of the continuum between work and play becomes ever more relative. He thinks that what he’s up to is great, judging by his gusto. Early education specialists would agree with him. Meanwhile, I’m trying to follow his path so the cheese he put with the pans doesn’t spoil.

Who am I to judge what type of work/play combination is best at any given time of my life? Instead of tossing socks, so to speak, I’ll be putting Windex in the fridge (my son would understand this metaphor). I get to return to the Greater Boston arts community and set up a new home (it’s a fixer-upper) with my family who I love more than anything.

I will continue supporting both Artspace and the many wonderful artists I’ve met along the way. I regret having to leave so soon, but I am lucky to have so much to miss. Come say hello/goodbye! I’ll be here full-time through November 7, and then off and on thanks to planes and creative commuting through mid-January.

[this post is also located on my personal blog, shanadumontgarr.com]

About Annah Lee

Annah Lee is the Director of Artistic Programs at Artspace.

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