Photographer Haley Birkett uses her skills to capture interesting faces and spaces in time—both to express her own creativity and to preserve the vision of some of the world’s most imaginative minds. She currently works full time in the Collection Strategies Division at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).
“Working one on one with the collection, handling pieces from some of the greatest artists the world has come to know, is a very intimate and rewarding experience,” said Birkett.
“One of my favorite projects was the instillation of the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo special exhibition that took place in the spring of 2015. I worked with a team to unroll and prepare the large Diego Rivera drawings for the show. Seeing pieces that had not been unrolled or exhibited in over 30 years was amazing.”
While Birkett’s responsibilities vary from day to day, she often photographs artwork, installs and de-installs exhibitions, does the matting and framing of works of art, and collaborates with conservation, curators and couriers. She was hired into this position prior to graduation after interning six months in the DIA’s Prints, Drawing and Photography Department.
“Landing a job before graduating from college was a great accomplishment,” she said. “Working in the art world is like competing for the Olympics. There are very limited spots available, and in order to secure one, you have to be excellent, you have to train hard, and despite the many obstacles you face, you must always believe that you are good enough.
“CCS prepares you with the work ethic and skills needed to go on and pursue just about anything; the real question is: are you up for the challenge?”
Outside of her position at the DIA and freelance projects, Birkett teachers fifth and sixth graders at Carstens Academy of Aquatic Science through CCS’s Community Arts Project.
“I love teaching!” exclaimed Birkett. “It is without a doubt the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. Teaching has always been a passion of mine, and I feel it is imperative that I pass on to students the experiences I have been fortunate enough to have thus far.”
In the future, Birkett plans to pursue a graduate program in historic preservation with hopes of one day working in the conservation department at a museum and eventually teaching at a university. To check out some of her work, visit http://www.haleybirkett.com. ;
- Detroit Institute of Arts; Community Arts Partnership - CCS
- Collection Strategies and Information; Freelance Photographer/Studio A