My Experience Volunteering at the Ann Arbor Art Center

By: Melanie Goulish

When I first began volunteering at the Ann Arbor Art Center, I had graduated from my university just a few months beforehand, and I felt thrust into a whirlwind of possibilities. In the midst of all the chaos, I hoped to narrow down my options and find a path to focus on.

I went into this volunteering opportunity hoping to refine the skills I had developed at university as a writer and a photographer. I expected my time at the Art Center would mostly be devoted to tasks like SEO research and keywording, social media copy writing and editing, and perhaps occasional staff portraits.

Instead, my story at the Art Center was one of expansion and experimentation. I certainly had opportunities to polish my professional writing abilities and develop my skills with portraiture, but with the support and encouragement of Art Center staff, I also ventured into unexplored terrain, including videography and genres of photography that I had never previously tried, such as gallery exhibit documentation and event photography.

Now that I’m freelancing in Ann Arbor, my specialty is in editorial and documentary-style event photography—a niche I never would have encountered, much less considered, had it not been for the formative year I spent shooting events like POP-X, Artini, and Vine and Dine.

I can also attest that the Art Center acts as a professional mentor by recognizing and rewarding its volunteer talent. For example, the Art Center compensates 48 hours of volunteer work by providing free enrollment in any one of its numerous classes. From its catalogue, one could enroll in anything from sculpting for beginners to an eight-week introduction to the Adobe Creative Suite. By volunteering and by participating in Art Center events and classes, prospective professionals develop their skills and their clientele.

I have been lucky to interact with the Art Center as artist, entrepreneur, student, volunteer and freelancer—often all at once, over the course of the nine months I volunteered there—and to see the work it does from all of those perspectives, and how it affects the lives of individuals as well as the greater Ann Arbor community. For anyone looking to help out in Ann Arbor’s vibrant art community, focus on their goals, and explore brand new possibilities, I can’t think of a better place to be than the Ann Arbor Art Center.

If you want to hire an amazing photographer don’t hesitate to contact Melanie at melaniegoulish@gmail.com

See Melanie’s Website here

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