Barbara Siwecki graduated from Wright State Universityin 1991 with a BFA degree and an empasis in sculpture and installation art. As a student gallery monitor, she also developed a great interest in museum/gallery preparation and administration. Barbara’s knowledge of gallery management grew as she assisted with administrative duties and the preparation/ installation of approximately twenty-five exhibitions during her undergraduate and graduate studies in art. This priceless experience opened up a world of opportunities for her.
In 1998, Barbara was approached by the Chief Curator of the Dayton Art Institute who offered her the position of Registrar. Leaving WSU was extremely bittersweet for Barbara, but this prospect was much too interesting to pass up. As Registrar, she was in charge of not only caring for the permanent collection, (comprised of more than 26,000 objects), but also for every piece of art that was brought in or out of the DAI for loans. One of her first and most challenging assignments was serving as courier for ETERNAL CHINA: Splendors from the First Dynasties. This involved taking charge of thirty-six large crates containing 115 priceless Chinese artifacts from X’ian, including twelve life-size figures of Emperor Qin’s terracotta army. Barbara first accompanied the exhibition to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and subsequently back to Bejing, China (accompanying the DAI’s Monet to London and Paris wasn’t bad, either!).
Barbara began to notice a change in her health and stamina. A routine exam and mammogram revealed that she had breast cancer, which was quite a shock after already surviving two bouts of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She underwent a lumpectomy and continued to work while taking chemotherapy, but it eventually became too much and she knew that it was time to take medical leave. Nearing the end of treatments, Barbara returned to the Dayton Art Institute and soon realized that the demands of this position, especially international travel, were much more than her condition would allow at that time. In the summer of 2000, she received a call from then Chair of the Department of Art and Art History at Wright State, Dr. Lind Caron, suggesting she apply for the position of University Galleries Coordinator. Since Barbara was already very familiar with the WSU Galleries as a student worker, and had actually taken care of business during the absence of a coordinator, she happily applied and was subsequently offered the position. It felt like being back home for her as she dove back into her duties of caring for the permanent collection, coordinating shipments of artwork, installation, lighting, labeling, security, taking care of visiting artists/gallery talks and publicity for the exhibitions. Barbara was excited to be back in an academic setting with her many colleagues in the Art Department for inspiration. By 2002 her health became an issue again as the extreme amount of chemotherapy and radiation that she underwent over the years began to damage her heart and lungs. She required open-heart surgery in 2002 and subsequently in 2003. Barbara’s physicians gave her the painful news that it was time for her to quit working.
Although she tries to keep up with her artwork and the art world, most of Barbara’s days since working are filled with family and friends. She reflects on some of the profound relationships that she developed while there, especially with that of her husband, Tony! Barbara cherishes the days that she spent at WSU and would like to think that she made a difference. As outstanding Alum for 2010, the Department would like her to know that she indeed did.