Happy Hour with Marjorie Hodges

Local writer and V&V friend, Jamie Williams, sat down with Marjorie Hodges, Director of External Affairs and Special Projects at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Read their conversation and then come hear more from Marjorie at the next Vert & Vogue Happy Hour event on Friday, December 21st, from 5:30 – 6:30pm.
Marjorie Hodges takes the North Carolina Museum of Art’s public mission seriously and she wants to make sure everyone across the state can experience its world class collections, whether they travel to Raleigh or not. As the NCMA’s Director of External Affairs and Special Projects, Hodges has been working to build connections with artists and art lovers, establishing collaborative relationships to bring new works and new ideas to the museum.

Hodges will talk about the power of collaboration as the featured guest at Vert & Vogue’s next Third Friday Happy Hour event, Friday, December 21st.

Could you describe your role at the North Carolina Museum of Art?

I work as the Director of External Affairs and Special Projects. It’s a position that was created a few years ago. My mission is to reach out across the state to foster collaborative partnerships instead of just operating within the walls of the museum in Raleigh.

The museum belongs to and serves the entire state of North Carolina so we focus on engaging the people of the state and inviting them to participate in what we are doing. Art is so important to communities across our state. I want to bring those North Carolina and regional artists together, connecting them with each other and with other artists from across the country and even international artists.

What do you like best about your job?

I am just so grateful for the position that I am in right now. There was a lot of volunteerism and unpaid involvement in arts that led to this point. I am passionate about the work that I do because I know the tremendous impact art can have on our communities. Some people would say art is just a quality of life enhancement, but it’s also a catalyst for development and economic prosperity. Artists are telling the stories of our time. Whether it’s at a private gallery, a studio, or a large museum, it is all so important. I am so happy to play a role in helping to share art with people.

What’s new at NCMA that you are particularly excited about?

First of all, the opening of the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park has been a huge opportunity for the museum, allowing us to add some large scale works outdoors that people can enjoy. We have three pieces on loan from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden – part of the Smithsonian in Washington, DC – that are amazing.

Our major exhibition at the moment is “The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art.” It features not just the works of O’Keeffe, but also 20 other artists who were inspired by her work. That will be on display through late January.

We are adding so many exciting works each year, with a particular focus on works by women and artists from diverse backgrounds. One thing that has been great for visitors over the last year is the fact that we have works by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, the artists who created the Obama portraits.

In the spring, we will have huge outdoor installations by Daniel Johnston and Heather Hart. Both of those will have performances and other programming happening around the installations, curated by

Linda Dougherty and Teka Selman, a collaboration I’m excited about.

Can you share a preview of what you will be discussing during Happy Hour?

The themes of my talk will be creativity and collaboration, inspired by my experience at Burning Man this year. It was my first time and I was completely blown away. This was the ultimate example of collaboration. Seventy thousand people arrive to a site with no electricity, no infrastructure, and you have to figure out how to provide for yourself.

People just think of Burning Man as a wild party, but there are more than 200 art installations to experience. I want to show pictures and talk about the radical participatory nature of Burning Man. There is no money, all you can buy is coffee and ice. Everyone there is dusty and dirty, working together. There is no way to know whether someone is rich or poor.

It is a communal experiment and the only way to be the best we can be is to truly collaborate. No collaboration is too small. Help someone or just smile and make a connection.

I think that reflects what many of my creative friends are trying to do in their communities.

Finally, what is your favorite drink? Beer, wine or mixed drink?