Alison Limtavemongkol '08
Art Curator, Open Mind Art Space
Studio Arts major, Fine Arts emphasis
What have you been doing since graduating from LMU?
After graduating from LMU in 2008, I helped manage my family's real estate business and went on to work in commercial property management for several years at two different real estate companies. After working in the corporate world for a while, I was craving more creative fulfillment in my career.
In 2015, one of my family’s commercial storefronts became available, so I thought it would be an exciting opportunity to rent out the space and start my own business. However, initially I wasn’t quite sure what type of "store" I wanted to open. I recalled from my time as a Studio Arts student at LMU, one of my professors, who eventually became my mentor, had suggested that art curation might be a great fit for me as a possible career path. The idea of bringing together talented artists and working with like-minded creatives really appealed to me, so I started researching how to open and run an art gallery, then decided to quit my job and just go for it!
After several months of construction and preparation, Open Mind Art Space (OMAS) opened its doors in February of 2016. It is an art gallery/alternative art space that showcases contemporary art from a diverse blend of local and national emerging artists. My intention for OMAS was to provide a comfortable and engaging space for reflection and dialogue, and with each exhibition I aim to facilitate a curatorial process that allows the artists to create impactful work. Recently, OMAS celebrated its 5th anniversary and the opening of my debut solo exhibition.
What is your day-to-day job like?
A typical day at the gallery usually entails corresponding with artists to plan for upcoming exhibitions, adding artworks for sale online, social media marketing, and interacting with visitors. With art shows opening about once a month at OMAS, I am always busy writing press releases, coordinating the installation of artworks at the gallery and event planning for the art openings. I also have to stay on top of updating the gallery website and the accounting side of the business, such as bookkeeping and taxes.
How did your undergraduate studies prepare you for your career?
My undergraduate studies taught me the discipline of time management and attention to detail, and the importance of professionalism. I remember my determination to finish ambitious art projects in time for assignment deadlines, and I still strive to apply the same level of commitment to follow-through when organizing an art exhibition for my art gallery. Once a press release is out, it is up to me to ensure the artwork is installed and presented well, in order to meet, and hopefully exceed, the expectations of gallery visitors.
The many critiques I participated in during Studio Arts classes at LMU taught me how to speak humbly about my own work and offer constructive comments about other students’ work without any personal judgement or disrespect. As the main point of contact for my business, I have to be personable and professional when it comes to customer service and networking with artists, art critics and other vital contributors to the art community. My undergraduate studies at LMU encouraged me to practice the interpersonal skills that are now vital to my career.
Why did you decide to major in Studio Arts?
I decided to major in Studio Arts because I always had a passion for making art. I started taking art classes regularly at a young age and the high school I attended encouraged creative expression in a variety of forms such as theatre and dance, so I was used to being involved in the arts and exploring my own interests within fine arts. When the time came to decide on a major at LMU, I knew that I wanted to pursue Studio Arts in my studies and eventually my career.
Tell us a little about your concentration in Studio Arts. And did you have a second major or any minors?
My concentrations in Studio Arts were mainly 3D design (sculpture) and painting. I developed a love for mixed media sculpture, performance and installation art, which are prevalent in the series of art I am making now. I did not have a second major or any minors. Although looking back, I wish I had minored in Business, which would have taught me the basics of business management and entrepreneurship. However, I did end up learning a lot about general business operations and customer service during my experiences working in a corporate environment after graduation.
What was your favorite aspect of the STAR program?
My favorite aspect of the STAR program was connecting with other students and feeding off each other’s creative energies. I still keep in contact with several of my fellow classmates, and collaborate with them on various projects and exhibitions. Another aspect I appreciated was that professors encouraged students to explore their ideas and experiment with different techniques and materials throughout the process, while providing the structure and guidance we needed to succeed in our art practices.
Were you involved in any meaningful organizations/activities while at LMU?
I participated in the ARTsmart, in which I was a volunteer arts mentor for underserved children at a local elementary school. I also joined the De Colores program and went on service trips with other student volunteers to Tijuana, Mexico to help build homes for local families. My artwork was selected to the 2007 Annual Juried Exhibition at the Laband Art Gallery on campus. And in 2008, I was the recipient of the Grace Swanson Scholarship for Excellence in Painting.
What is your favorite memory from your time at LMU? What do you miss most?
My fondest memories from my time at LMU were staying up late working on art projects in the studio, often alongside other students. I also miss walking around LMU’s beautiful campus on clear sunny days!
Do you have any advice for current STAR students?
My advice for current STAR students is to always stay true to yourself. When in doubt, tune in to your intuition. Don’t be afraid to be ambitious with your art, but remember to be realistic about feasibility. Think ahead about how the outcome will impact you, both economically and energetically.
Take advantage of other non-art related classes, clubs and activities that LMU offers or apply for a part-time job in a different field, so you can learn a variety of skills which might be helpful in navigating the real world after graduation. The more you know how to do, the more valuable you will become to any team, organization, industry or community in the future.
Networking is also something I highly encourage students to start doing regularly. Getting out there and meeting new people can open up so many more potential opportunities for jobs and collaborations to advance your art practice and career.