About Jessie:Reflecting on a friendship that started within the workplace that extended outwards.
In my time at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston l have been a part of quite a few early morning departure ceremonies. Although I have had close relationships with many of those individuals, I have never really spoken to their achievements within the positions they've held. But Jessie Anderson is different for me. Jessie wasn't just my coworker. In her time there she also became one of my best friends.
I may not have been there the entirety of her time at CAMH, but in my time there I have seen her grow into her own within her most recently held position as Tour Programs Coordinator.
Jessie started as a member of the installation build out crew helping with the installation of exhibitions, the only woman on the crew I might add. During this time Jessie also worked as a FAQ Team member. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Team persons lead tour groups and activities during CAMH's public programs. This was a fact that I was only made aware of when I found her helping out during my first CAMH Family Day experience.
When Jamal Cyrus, the former Teen Council Coordinator left the museum to pursue teaching, Micheal Simmonds filled his position leaving his old post as FAQ Team Coordinator. Seeking an opportunity for advancement Jessie applied for the position of FAQ Team Coordinator and was rightfully given the position by then Communications Director Connie McAllister. Connie had a keen sense for spotting potential in everyone and always knew who would fit and grow not only as a person but help to strengthen her department.
In her time as Tour Programs Coordinator I have seen Jessie slowly morph the position and its responsibilities into something almost completely different from what it was when she accepted the opportunity.
She had a way of dissecting even the most complex ideas of each exhibition and making them easily digestible to all audiences and also had the amazing capability of creating crafts that address the artist's intent as well as the practice by which they created their work. She did this for each and every exhibition and for every age group, whether K-12, college students, adults, those interested in the arts or those who were not.
She, like so many other dedicated individuals and employees, has on numerous occasions taken her work home with her. At times she struggled, but in my eyes always succeeded at provided insightful activities and dialogue that allows audiences to feel included in whatever conversations the artist is attempting to have with the audience.
At one point she changed her schedule to make sure there was someone here on Saturdays to lead tours. During this time, more specifically during Paul Ramirez Jonas' exhibition “Atlas, Plural, Monumental” she noticed that there wasn't much of a draw for walk-in tours, so she brainstormed ways to get people thinking and to further activate our weekend audiences. The museum's new ongoing weekend interactive activity, Drop-In Experience, was born from that observation.
Jessie also fought for a school/tour bus zone to alleviate the hassle of parking for buses bringing in students for tours; something that has never existed in the nearly 70 years since the founding of the organization.
Jessie Anderson has worked her way up from the hands-on exhibition building experience to hands-on experience building and for me that is something to proud of. I am extremely proud of Jessie and what she has done for that organization in her time there and even prouder to say that she is my friend.