We are excited to feature Chris McCarthy, Executive Director of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) in Provincetown, MA next in our A Few Questions With series. Chris is responsible for all artistic directions of the largest presenter of Outer Cape art by national, regional and international artists, and she has worked in numerous galleries and museums throughout New England.
It’s inspiring to connect with other creatives in other industries and we look forward to catching up with Chris who will be presenting at this year’s The Artist Summit produced by The Powder Group from October 1-6, 2017 in Provincetown, MA. #seeyouatthesummit. For more information about The Artist Summit visit www.theartistsummit.com
What inspires you right now? (and Why?)
I sit in an office surrounded by art in a building that preserves an incredible legacy. I am inspired all of the time by the objects, the people who come in and out of PAAM, my staff, the beauty of the national seashore; history – watching it repeat; the sea and the light. I watch people leave on a Sunday and am thankful that I am already home – given the opportunity to do what I have been trained to do in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Can you tell us about a defining moment in your career? One that made you realize this was what you were going to do with the rest of your life?
When I was in graduate school at Syracuse University, one of the requirements for my Master’s program was to do a summer internship. I was fortunate enough to secure a position at the Yale University Art Gallery. Intimidated because it was Yale, I was very nervous that I didn’t know enough or wasn’t smart enough. Fortunately, I was paired with a brilliant art historian and curator in the department of prints, drawings and photographs. I was assigned to various tasks, most of which involved researching works on paper. One day, Dr. Field, my mentor, asked me to come back into the area where prints and drawings were stored. He told me to put out my white-gloved hands, and he carefully placed a Leonardo DaVinci sketch in my palms. I was and Italian Renaissance major at the time, and had spent a semester abroad in Italy so the significance of this gesture was enormous. I was moved to tears by its beauty and knew that making objects of art a part of my everyday life was critical; and the importance of the institutions that house such objects was right path for me.
What advice would you give to someone looking to focus on a career in the creative industries?
There is an enormous amount of risk associated with choosing a creative field as a full-time career. However, the results can be highly satisfying. My advice would be the following:-Be confident; choose the best mentors possible; listen; work hard; don’t be defeated easily; the sky is the limit when creativity is involved; collaborate; utilize the educational tools that are available to you; be smart; use your head; pay attention.
What is the key to a successful work-life balance?
This is a hard question for me to answer as it is very difficult for me to separate my work from my personal life because I love my work and it is part of who I am. I have been in a creative field for the majority of my life and all of my career, but over the past decade, I have learned to delegate, trust the people I hire, say no, and make sure that when I am at the breaking point, to step back and recharge. Burnout doesn’t help anyone so I try not to bring work home with me, but the mind is always spinning. I still get excited about my work and its future possibilities, but I do have other interests and try to focus on those when I am taking time off.