Despite pleas from her co-workers, Donna Pickens retired from her more-than-fulltime position as Assistant Curator of Education for ARTWORKS, School, Family & Children’s Programs at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in December.
For 11 years, she designed the Museum’s studio programs and supervised the staff that delivered countless hands-on art lessons for children and adults. Donna co-authored the Museum’s well-respected fifth-grade tour curriculum, and she helped to organize family days and special events like Holiday Open House and the Flimp Festival. In addition, she managed the Museum’s ARTWORKS hands-on galleries (for which she created some of the exhibits), and she coordinated dozens of ARTWORKS corridor exhibitions of student art that were always cued to the Museum’s temporary exhibitions in order to help students explore the themes, techniques, and materials on display in the Museum’s galleries. Twice the U. S. Department of Education chose student art from Donna’s programs for a national exhibition in Washington, DC that was co-sponsored by the Association of Art Museum Directors.
In recent years Donna created a new, yearlong, artist-in-residence program for third and fourth graders at Wares Ferry Road Elementary using pilot-project funding from the Hearst Foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts. She designed (and staffed and supervised) a solid program that utilizes Visual Thinking Strategies to improve students’ creativity, perceptions, and verbal abilities. She also expanded the Museum’s outreach programs, adding one for the Alabama Department of Youth Services at Mt. Meigs that officials now seek to duplicate at other facilities.
Donna’s engagement with adult artists was similarly deep and broad. She taught and coordinated countless evening and weekend workshops, including ARTtalk (with the Montgomery Art Guild), and Art Ed Central (with and for local art teachers). She has also coordinated a robust range of lessons for the annual Alabama Art Education Association meetings at the MMFA, and she has been active in national arts education organizations as well.
Museum director Mark Johnson said, “We will all miss Donna and her creativity, perseverance, and passion for art and art education. We are grateful for her decade of service to this Museum and our community and we wish her the best in her retirement.”
Donna earned an MFA at Georgia State University and taught art in Atlanta for nearly three decades before moving to Montgomery. She is an accomplished sculptor with public art commissions and an artist who has mastered a wide variety of techniques and materials. She looks forward to flexing her artistic muscles in retirement, while spending more time with family and friends.
Fortunately for Museum staff and visitors, Donna has agreed to continue working a couple of days a week for several months to sustain the popular Museum programs we have all come to expect. So, please wish Donna a happy retirement when you see her. But don’t dawdle. She’s got grandchildren to see and art to make.
Curator of Art