10 x 10 Week 5: The Houff Foundation’s re:Interns

The Houff Foundation takes over for 1708’s interns this week, hosting a panel that debates the good and bad for working for little to no financial compensation. Also featured: many years of the Monster Drawing Rally’s best pieces.

Part of our ongoing 10 x 10 coverage, as one of the neatest community-oriented art experiments in 1708’s already pretty neat history.

Interns: can’t live without ’em, can’t…live without ’em. 1708 Gallery and the Houff Foundation pay tribute to their interns for this week’s 10 x 10, giving the hard-working learners a week off.

Who’ll run the gallery while they’re gone? Former 1708 intern JoJo Houff and the Houff Foundation are stepping in to help.

They won’t be gone in spirit, though. Houff and her colleague Gavin Foster have set up a printer that the 1708 interns can send photos to, directly from their vacation (or staycation, as it may be), which will print automatically and be hung on the gallery walls.

Houff credits her own internship with 1708 as crucial to her understanding about how a gallery works–a nonprofit one in particular. In addition to doing stereotypical intern stuff, like getting mail, Houff (and her successors) helped with deliveries, processed forms for things like inLight, assisted with installs…everything that you really have no idea how to do until you do it.

Wednesday, July 1st, will bring with it a panel of interns from similar organizations to share the ups and downs of the oft-misunderstood position. “An intern can mean a variety of things these days,” says Houff. “They’ll discuss what’s been valuable to them and what an intern can expect.”

There are rules in place now that regulate the use of underpaid or unpaid interns, so organizations have really had to rethink the one-to-one exchange of knowledge and experience for labor.

Houff has many thoughts on the subject. The Houff Foundation, which was founded by herself and Foster, awards grants of labor to VCU art students. Yes, grants of labor–that is, the winners don’t get a chunk of cash, they get a chunk of hours full of helping hands. After all, doesn’t money ultimately translate into time?

So this week, they’re donating their time to the gallery, doing the work of those on vacation. “We came in her being like ‘Oh, we know how to do this!’ but then we totally forgot where the mailboxes were,” Houff laughs. “Luckily, they’ve saved us some simple two-person tasks that involve easy things like ladders.”

With the panel on Wednesday night and so many volunteers subbing for interns, Houff hopes the takeaway will be that interning can be really life-changing with some caveats woven in that will help make the best of an intern experience.

The Foundation also helps coordinate 1708’s annual Monster Drawing Rally, which is one of the gallery’s most successful fundraisers. Guest artists draw for an hour, and the results go up on the wall and are sold to supporters of the gallery (after they’re copied for posterity, of course). For this week, they’ve dug back into their archives and are displaying the best of the rally.

Stop by Wednesday at 6:30 PM for the panel, or come check out the Monster Drawing Rally pieces from over the years. They’ll be here all week, and if you have any tips on where that mailbox might be, please let them know.1

  1. JK, they found it eventually! 
  • error

    Report an error

Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

There are no reader comments. Add yours.