Arianna Riva, Collections Assistant

Meet the Staff: Arianna Riva

August 14, 2020

Tell us a little about yourself. What did you do before joining the Thoma Foundation staff?
I was born in Providence, Rhode Island, but grew up moving back and forth between the United States and Italy, completing periods of elementary, middle and high school in Bologna and Venice. Before joining the TAF, I worked at a variety of arts institutions based in Providence. I started at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University as a collections assistant, and also coordinated their programs and working as an assistant to the registrar. I was a Mellon Foundation intern at the RISD Museum, spending a summer completing an inventory of their collection of Gorham Silver. After receiving my Masters, I then worked in the galleries at the Providence Art Club and with the Anne + Michael Spalter Digital Art Collection, documenting and re-organizing their extensive holdings.

Can you explain a little bit about the type of work you do at TAF?
I work with the collections staff to assist in documenting newly acquired artworks, install new shows, help with database and data management tasks, and otherwise lend a hand in whatever needs to be done in order to steward the collections.

The Foundation’s collection ranges from seventeenth-century Spanish Colonial panel paintings to contemporary digital art. What has been the biggest challenge so far in working with such a diverse collection? The biggest reward?
The variety of media represented in the collection requires a wide knowledge base in order to best preserve and document all types of works. The biggest reward for me is to be working at the forefront of creating and discovering best practices for digital preservation and for documenting media art, which challenges traditional cataloging systems and encourages cross-disciplinary thinking.

Do you have a favorite piece of artwork in the collection?
There is so much to explore within the collection that it is hard to pick a favorite. However, I have a fondness for Vera Molnar’s pioneering early computer art.

Where is your favorite place to see art in the Santa Fe area?
I am a recent transfer to Santa Fe, and haven’t had much opportunity to live in the area before COVID concerns have shuttered most art spaces. I am taking recommendations for places to visit once things begin to reopen!

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