Meet Zygote Press Gallery Coordinator Nicole Schneider
Zygote Press has an active and growing internship program. In exchange for 10 hours of work each month, interns get full access to the studio along with other benefits including opportunities to teach and take classes at Zygote. Recently, I chatted with Nicole Schneider to discuss her five years as a Zygote intern and what has followed. She began as Gallery Coordinator in 2008 right after graduating with a degree in printmaking from Kent State.
Elizabeth Emery: Have you always wanted to go into gallery work?
Nicole Schneider: Actually, it wasn’t even something I had thought about. Working at Zygote’s gallery led to getting the assistantship when I went back to grad school with the galleries at Kent State. Now, it’s something I certainly want to pursue. I found out I do really enjoy it a lot.
EE : Why?
NS : I’m really drawn to working in galleries and museums in this way because it’s not like the administrative stuff — sitting and doing the same thing over and over again so there’s still that excitement and constant change and you get to see and handle all the artwork. And there’s actually a position to pursue that will pay you and potentially even benefits. But then also you’re still connected to the same scene of people and you get to learn more about different artists and organizations. In between undergrad and grad school I got a job in customer service at a printing company but it had absolutely nothing to do with what I wanted to pursue. It just got in the way. I ended up not making any work. It’s a tough thing to balance art making with work.
EE : Do you have any advice for current undergraduate art students?
NS : I would say that it (creating a life as a studio artist) is really, really difficult and you will be running yourself ragged and you definitely have to make sure that it’s something you are extremely passionate about. If you are, then you’re willing to do anything to make it work out.
EE : What is it about Zygote and working as an intern that attracted you?
NS : As far as being a printmaker and being rocketed out into the world and not having a facility, Zygote is very accepting and brings you in. There’s a great sense of community. It was just a natural thing to go to Zygote. Liz (Maugans) is very good at fitting people with their interests and what they’re good at. When the gallery job opened up she luckily asked me. That gave me experience to go on and get the gallery assistantship (at Kent), which is the only way I would have been able to go to grad school.
EE : If you had to promote the intern program at Zygote what would you say?
NS : I’ve been an intern for a long time and it’s great because you learn a lot of different aspects. It’s not just about printing. You might get to work in the gallery so you not only have the gallery side but the shop side of things. Learning how a non-profit runs is really important. There are just a lot of experiences you wouldn’t get if you weren’t in a space like Zygote — you are pretty much accepted and you come in and opportunities just fall in your lap that you wouldn’t receive elsewhere. Liz has been very helpful with me in trying to start my non-profit. (Nicole and business partner Pam Testa won a $17,500 grant from Akron’s University Park Alliance to start a print shop, Rubber City Prints.) Learning things from Zygote puts me at an advantage because I know what has worked and what hasn’t. I would like to do more contract printing and collaborative projects and really up the residency program from the start. Pam and I want a space like ZPASS (Zygote’s residency program) but smaller. Our goal is to bring more attention to Northeast Ohio. If we are able to draw artists from across the country and eventually internationally I think that’s going to help all of Northeast Ohio.
To find out more about Nicole and her work, including a recent screen print and relief collaborative project with painter Shaun Watrous, go to nicolemschneider. wordpress.com.
Find out more about interning at Zygote Press, at www.zygotepress.com/volunteer.