Detail of Aspen, Quilt by Jeanne Benson
Welcome to part 4 of our series Meeting the Smithsonian Associates Studio Arts Event Representatives. Smithsonian Associates Studio Arts programs would be nearly impossible to run without the help of volunteers. After receiving specialized training through the Associates volunteer office, studio arts event representatives are poised and ready to assist both teachers and students in a variety of important ways. In return for their commitment which often spans eight weeks volunteers have the option of actively participating in the class where they have been assigned. In this special series of interviews, we offer our readers an insider’s perspective on our studio classes and share just a little bit about these special people who volunteer with Smithsonian Associates on a regular basis. We hope you enjoy meeting them.
Interview with Smithsonian Associates Studio Arts Event Representative, Karen Benson
Students hard at work
How long have you been a volunteer?
I’ve been a volunteer for about five or six years.
Why did you decided to become a Smithsonian Associates Studio Arts volunteer?
I was looking for some variety in my schedule. I also volunteer at Smithsonian Associates events and work in the office a few times a week.
What is most rewarding for you about volunteering?
I love learning. We have such great teachers here that I always learn something new and enjoy myself. Also, it’s my way to give back to the Smithsonian Associates for all the great stuff they do.
What is your favorite Smithsonian Museum? Why?
It’s really hard to name one in particular. I really love going to the American Indian museum but I guess I’d have to say thePortrait Gallery or American Art because they have such old, beautiful buildings.
Do you have an arts background?
My background is in education but I have an appreciation for art.
What classes have you participated in?
I’ve had the chance to participate in lots of classes. I’ve done various quilting and knitting classes, Coptic book binding, calligraphy and sumi-e and shodo. I’ve just started the beginning drawing class with Jamie Combs too. I love that I’ve been able to learn new skills as well as learn new things about topics I already had an interest in.
Do you have a favorite class?
So far I’d say quilting and book binding have been my favorite classes just because I was already interested in those topics even before I started volunteering.
Favorite assignment/project from our classes?
It would either have to be learning a new stitch in a knitting class as that is something I love doing or sumi-e. Sumi-e helped me learn new ways to be creative and opened doors for me that I otherwise would not have known existed.
If you could design a class, what would it be?
That’s a really hard question as so much variety exists within the classes offered. I’d like to see something that we don’t often offer on a regular basis like metal sculpting or fused glass.