We're highlighting women artists at The Field Museum and exploring the intersection of art and science. Hear from Ann Prazer, exhibitions mount shop crew leader and mountmaker:
How did you get your start as an artist?
I have a BFA in Studio Art, with a concentration in both painting and photography. I’ve worked at art galleries, for photographers, and stumbled into this job because I had metalworking experience and had taken classes in museum studies.
What does your job entail? What’s your day-to-day like?
In the Mount Shop, we fabricate and install mounts for all of the artifacts that go on display at The Field Museum and in our traveling exhibits. I do a lot of metalworking, which includes soldering, brazing, welding, and machining. I also work with Plexiglas, foam, fabric, paper, epoxy resin, paint, and occasionally framing for 2D work. I handle precious artifacts, anything from a tiny gem to a large fossil that needs to be rigged with a forklift or gantry. Every day is different; sometimes I will be working with the rest of the crew making mounts in the shop, other days we may be installing an exhibit, meeting with other departments to collaborate on planning an exhibit, or transporting and handling precious artifacts within the Museum.
What has been your favorite part of your work, or a memorable moment?
I love being able to work with my hands and problem solve ways to support and display objects that may have specific requirements or restrictions. When making a mount, you have to consider the object’s condition. Flaking paint, cracks or mends, the stability of the material it’s made of, and its weight and center of gravity are all important factors.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Always be learning new skills. Even if you excel in a certain medium, a new skill can help you approach your work in a different way. There are also a lot of unusual jobs out there, so a varied skill set can open up more opportunities.