"Art is the common thread that links us all together"

- Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon, Associate Curator at Orlando Museum of Art

Central Florida might not be the first place you think of when looking to explore an art museum. But, as Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon explains, you'll be surprised with what this emerging capital of culture has to offer those looking to take a break from the thrills and spills of the theme parks.

TTG: Tell us about your day to day role at Orlando Museum of Art.

CCG: I see my role as the ultimate art connector. My passion and purpose is to connect audiences as wide as possible to artworks as diverse as can be. The experience is both challenging and incredibly rewarding. I interact with art experts, collectors, professors, fellow curators, blue chip galleries, art museums as well as art novices, students, families, emerging and seasoned artists nationally and internationally. I love that art is the common thread that links us all together, weaving our own personal webs of connections and meaningful art experiences.

- Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon in front of: Nate Young, Untitled, Graphite on paper, oak and walnut, 83 ½ x 49 ½ x 2 ½ in. On long-term loan from Dr. Robert B. Feldman. Photo credit: Lechon Kirb.

TTG: The Orlando Museum of Art - a leading cultural institution in the region - is reaching 100 years old. What do you see as the mission of the museum going forward and what do you believe you’ve achieved to date?

CCG: The mission of the Orlando Museum of Art is to inspire creativity, passion and intellectual curiosity by connecting people with art and new ideas. OMA’s vision is to be a creative agent, a beacon for the arts in Central Florida and beyond.

True to our belief that art is a powerful agent for change, knowledge and civic action, our efforts have been centred towards growing audiences in underserved areas, with an educational goal in mind. Important acquisitions have been made which allows us to set the bar higher and propel us to a comparative and competitive level with some of the best museums nationally.

TTG: How has Orlando Museum of Art sought to engage with Florida locals and tourists alike over the years?

CCG: We are deeply engaged in place-making. The art experiences we provide through our exhibitions, events and education programs are all means to engage our audience within the space of our museum galleries. We want OMA to be the first place that comes to mind when they think of great art in Central Florida

"People have come to realise that art is absolutely everywhere"

- Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon

TTG: Glen Gentele, Director & CEO, discussed the profound impact of placing art in the lives of children and people with diverse background and experiences. Why do you think this is important and, how do you think Orlando Museum of Art is achieving this?

CCG: People have come to realise that art is absolutely everywhere, and equipping children with the tools to express or access it is essential. More than ever, corporations and businesses are engaging the services of artists and creatives to explore outside-the-box strategies, and train their staff in creative thinking. These are all tools our children can use on a daily basis in a (social) media-led environment that is constantly changing.

- Miriam Schapiro, Heartland, 1985, acrylic, fabric, glitter on canvas, 85 in. x 94 in. Purchased with funds provided by the Women for Special Acquisition and the Council of 101.

TTG: Are there any artefacts or pieces of artwork within the museum that people automatically gravitate to? What are these and why?

CCG: A strong favourite with our visitors is the Citron and Cobalt Tower (2004) by Dale Chihuly, on permanent display in OMA’s Council of 101 Grand Gallery Hall. It’s a colourful blown-glass installation towering at nearly 21ft. It’s also a great meeting point in the museum.

Another favourite is the work of Miriam Schapiro; her collaged and textured pieces seem to resonate with most. As far as exhibitions are concerned, one of the most loved by the public in recent years has been Maya Lin: A History of Water, for its ability to transcend museum walls and transport you to another world, another dimension.

While most audiences seem to be drawn primarily to contemporary art, most seasoned collectors and benefactors absolutely revere OMA’s permanent collection of american art, which spans from the late 19th century to mid-20th century. That’s the beauty of OMA’s exhibitions: there is always something on display that will strike a chord with you. I would always encourage anyone to keep searching until you find the piece that speaks to you and come back and visit often, like a beloved family member, cherish it and it will tell you everything.

- Dale Chihuly, Citron and Cobalt Tower, 2004, blown glass, assembled, metal armature, 246 x 78 x 78 in. Shared with the community by the law firm of Lowndes Drosdick Doster Kantor & Reed in commemoration of its 35th anniversary.

"There is always something on display that will strike a chord with you."

- Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon

- Zanele Muholi, Zibuyile I, from the series MalD, 2015, silver gelatin print, 23 1/2 x 17 in. Purchased with funds provided by the Charles E. Meiner Acquisition Trust Endowment Fund. © 2015 Zanele Muholi. Image courtesy of the Yancey Richardson Gallery.

TTG: What’s your favourite exhibit in Orlando Museum of Art?

CCG: It’s hard to pick, but I feel a particular connection to the portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe by Yousuf Karsh (1956), I could look at it forever, as an image, it is simply perfect. Similarly, OMA’s recently acquired Zibuyile I by South-African photographer Zanele Muholi holds a powerful grasp on me, for all the questions it raises and ensuring that LGBT lives are documented in visual history.

Nick Cave’s Soundsuit is another piece at the top of my list, for its intricacy, the power of its message towards resistance to profiling and racial violence, as well as its potential of being worn as a performance piece and the sound it makes in motion.

Mel Kendrick’s Jack 3 & 4 are also a great source of perplexity as I find myself wanting to piece the giant concrete puzzles together; they’re also a constant source of joy, as I see our visitors interact with them daily outside my office window. There are the brainiacs who - like me- want to figure out how to make the initial concrete shapes whole again, as well as the selfie addicts who crawl through the openings for a memorable shot. But my favourites are the kids whose squeals of delight I adore when they run around and climb inside the sculptures. There’s nothing more rewarding to an art curator than seeing art being loved so much.

- Yousuf Karsh, Portrait of Georgia O'Keeffe, 1956, gelatin silver print, 23 1/4 in. x 18 5/8 in. Gift of the artist.

"There’s nothing more rewarding to an art curator than seeing art being loved so much."

- Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon

TTG: Are there any upcoming exhibitions in 2018 that you are particularly looking forward to?

CCG: One exhibition that I am looking forward to is our Florida Prize in Contemporary Art exhibition, opening June 1st, which will feature 10 of the most progressive and exciting artists working in Florida today. The award and invitational exhibition recognises the achievement and potential of these emerging or mid-career artists and encourages their continued innovation and creation of new work. I love and look forward to the incredible creative energy that flows from this exhibition every year.

I’m also looking forward to our Nick Cave: FEAT. exhibition in the Fall. Engaging in performance, multi-disciplinary art and fashion, this blockbuster exhibition, looking at the notions of identity and social justice, while bursting with colour, texture, and many optical delights, will be spectacular.

- Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2011, ceramic birds and figures, metal flowers, gramophone, wig, beads, metal armature, appliquéd, knitted and crocheted fabric on mannequin, 112 1/2 in. x 58 in. x 47 1/2 in. Purchased with funds provided by the Acquisition Trust.

"Orlando has many places that provide entertainment, but for audiences seeking a more cultural experience in this international city, this is where to go."

- Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon

TTG: Orlando has such a huge variety of attractions including numerous museums, what makes Orlando Museum of Art stand out from the other attractions available?

CCG: The Orlando Museum of Art is the go-to place for quenching your cultural thirst in Orlando. Orlando has many places that provide entertainment, but for audiences seeking a more cultural experience in this international city, this is where to go. OMA’s collections, temporary exhibitions and event programming provide so many experiences: lunch times lectures with Art Sandwiched In, art panel discussions and evening film screenings, community events, that it’s nearly impossible to attend them all. There’s also a brilliant museum shop which contains a ton of fun and quirky gift ideas.

- Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon in front of: Ebony Patterson, …He, 2016, Mixed media work on paper with glitter, plastic beads, 83 x 60 in. On long-term loan from Dr. Robert B. Feldman. Photo credit: Lechon Kirb.

TTG: What advice would give someone who is visiting Orlando for the very first time, what would you tell him or her to see/do/eat?

CCG: I would absolutely recommend our museums, the Orlando Museum of Art, of course, but also the Mennello Museum, the Morse Museum and the Cornell Fine Art Museum. For coffee drinkers, I would send them to my all-time favourite Lineage Coffee Roasting. I would encourage them to eat locally at East End Market, Mon Petit Cheri (for French pastries), P is for Pie or Maxine’s On Shine, and then send them to a concert at the Timucua White House, the private home of Benoit Glazer and Elaine Corriveau, turned concert hall, which is another word-of-mouth gem in Orlando.

Finally, I would recommend they attend a Pecha Kucha night at the Dr Phillips Performing Art Center to hear some of Orlando’s most incredible people speak their mind and pour their heart out, and experience first-hand, how they’re truly shaping the experience of our city.