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SNAG Celebrates: Carissa Hussong

SNAG Celebrates

SNAG is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019 and is honoring its membership by highlighting different artists on the SNAG website.

Photo courtesy of StyleBlueprint

Photo courtesy of StyleBlueprint


Please introduce yourself.
My name is Carissa Hussong and I am the Executive Director of the Metal Museum in Memphis, TN. I did not follow a logical path to my current position. In college, I thought I wanted to be a magazine editor and majored in English Literature. Immediately after graduating, I went back to school to get a second degree in Art History, followed by a curatorial fellowship at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY) and a series of internships and paid positions with various arts organizations, including ArtFair/Seattle (Seattle, WA), Gagosian Gallery (New York, NY) and the Dixon Gallery and Gardens (Memphis, TN). While overseeing the UrbanArt Commission, I earned my final degree, an MBA, which, along with the writing skills my first degree drilled into me, has proved invaluable in running a non-profit arts organization.

Metal Museum_Blacksmith Demo_ Ann Klicka

Blacksmithing apprentice Ann Klicka gives a forging demonstration for a group of seniors. Photo courtesy of the Metal Museum.

 

Prior to joining the Metal Museum, I was the founding director of the UrbanArt Commission, which was created to develop and oversee the City of Memphis’s percent for art program. Although I had worked with the former director of the Museum, commissioning several projects, I was definitely an outsider. My background was deeply rooted in “contemporary fine art” – and there was a rumor that I would throw a pile of rebar into a corner and call it art. I was careful and absorbed as much as I could about metalworking, making sure I understood how objects were made and what constituted good craftsmanship. As we have developed our exhibitions and collections policies over the past few years, we have clearly defined this commitment to both the process and the object, making sure that anything we collect or exhibit illustrates fine craftsmanship and aesthetics. Sometimes this means acknowledging our limited knowledge and relying on the expertise of others.

I am not sure what my area of expertise is. It is certainly not metalsmithing. While taking my first blacksmithing class after joining the Museum, the staff joked that I better be “a better fundraiser than blacksmith or we were all in trouble.”  I think we have done pretty well together.

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