On June 1, Alana Ryder joined the Wexner Center team as our new Educator for Public and University Programs. She comes to the center from the Johnson Museum of Art in Ithaca, New York, where she served as the Mellon Curatorial Coordinator for Academic Programs. Below, Alana offers some insights into her new role here at the Wex.
Can you tell us a bit about your past work?
My career so far has taken me to university museums, and I can’t imagine it any other way! Over the years, I have cocurated and developed interpretive material for exhibitions on painter Charles E. Burchfield, composer John Cage, and women artists from western New York. Some of the most memorable collaborations I’ve initiated have been ones that might be considered a bit unusual for museums—those created alongside law students, urban farmers, and veterans, for example. Most recently, I taught at Cornell with an encyclopedic collection that spans dozens of fields.
Why the Wex? What interested you the most about not just the Education Department, but the center as a whole?
I am most enthusiastic to work with artists—living artists!—and the center’s all-star staff. The center’s reputation precedes itself and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to bring people together to talk about the arts and contemporary topics.
What’s your vision for your new role here?
My first priority is to get to know the campus and Columbus communities. I’m delighted by the challenge to create lectures, talks, and symposia for exhibitions, films, and performances that build long-lasting support in a place that’s constantly changing. My mission is to deliver outstanding and transformative programs while continuing to adapt to and learn about what it means to be a cultural hub in the 21st century.
What excites you most about engaging with students and the public?
I’m passionate about introducing the arts to first-time visitors and working closely with Ohio State faculty and students. Fewer things are more important than getting the next generation to care about cultural participation. I can’t wait to facilitate these experiences and cultivate enduring relationships.
Thoughts on moving to Columbus?
Where has Jeni’s been all my life? I’m eager to visit the other cultural institutions in the city and spend a lot of time on the Olentangy Trail.