As one of the Upstate Institute’s 2013 Field School Fellows, Megan Wickens ’14 feels that being an “adaptive member of the Sculpture Space staff” is the most important contribution she can make to the nonprofit organization that provides two month residencies for artists from all over the world. She has already done that and more in the first month of her fellowship with Sculpture Space. On any given day, she can be found planting ferns, painting toolsheds, scanning and digitizing documents, researching grants, writing blog posts, taking video footage, or attending community meetings. Megan was initially attracted to the Field School due to her “interest and growing love for this area of the world.” She says, “There is a great amount of talent, hard work, and community that I feel thrives in this area, yet much of it flies under the radar; especially when one is cocooned in the safety of Colgate life. There is another 180 degrees of life here that we are not seeing as students, and I believed a summer as a Field School Fellow would give me a chance to not only see it, but also get a taste of what it is like to live it.”
Sculpture Space has been operating for 35 years in Utica as a “cultural resource” for international artists and residents of the city. Artists who specialize in sculpture and contemporary art come to Sculpture Space for two months to work towards the completion of new projects. The organization is unique in that it provides opportunities for Uticans to interact with the artists and art produced. Megan describes this symbiotic relationship as one that “builds upon itself through the influence of the community and area on artists, as well as the artists on their surrounding environment.”
While Megan’s main project centers around creating a video that Sculpture Space can utilize as a marketing and outreach tool, she is also immersed in a number of other tasks focused on helping Sculpture Space “redefine its space in the community.” She is digitizing their Artist in Residence archive, conducting grant research, writing for her weekly blog “Summer in Spaceland,” utilizing her love of photography to update Facebook, and writing articles for their Eye on the Studio newsletter. Megan has also spent time at the Oneida County Historical Society, one of the Upstate Institute’s longstanding community partners, compiling photographs that will be installed along arterial panels in the upcoming construction of the Utica Arterial Highway.
She is excited about her upcoming video project, in which she will interview at least two of the artists-in-residence, but recognizes that running an organization like Sculpture Space “is no easy task, and often requires more people and resources than is available.” Megan says, “It is humbling to see the amount of work that the three main members of staff have to complete each day.” At the end of the day, therefore, she feels her most valuable contribution is supporting and adapting to the needs of the staff and organization. It is clear Megan understands and practices just the kind of reciprocal community partnerships the Upstate Institute seeks to foster through the Field School and all of its programs.