Aaron Ott describes how getting your bubble burst and going beyond your comfort zone is a difficult but necessary experience for creative capacity.

As the Curator of Public Art at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Aaron’s work necessarily takes artwork and artists beyond traditional gallery spaces and into the public realm with all its challenges and opportunities. Producing great public installations requires not simply going beyond the comforts of traditional spaces. It demands an empathic sensitivity to the lived experience of others. This difficult task can lead to challenging situations, but ones that can result in transcendent work that brings people together in unprecedented ways.

About the speaker

Aaron Ott was appointed as the Albright-Knox’s first Curator of Public Art in 2013. Previously, he worked as an independent creative on projects with the Elmhurst Art Museum, Columbia College, the Hyde Park Art Center, and the Chicago Artists Coalition’s HATCH Projects. He also served as a curator at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Elmhurst Art Museum, and as Director of David Weinberg Photography in Chicago.

Aaron leads the Albright-Knox’s Public Art Initiative, a unique partnership supported by the County of Erie and the City of Buffalo. Through this initiative, he has managed more than a dozen public art projects and installations around Erie County, including Casey Riordan Millard’s popular Shark Girl, on view permanently at Canalside Buffalo; Shayne Dark: Natural Conditions at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens in 2015; Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboards and stickers in 2014; and Kaarina Kaikkonen’s We Share a Dream, a monumental installation made from donated shirts currently on view at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

Aaron holds a BFA in Fine Art Photography from the University of Cincinnati and a Master’s degree in Museum and Exhibition Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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When you begin to understand why people are saying the things that they're saying to you, and not just understanding, but empathize with them, you begin to realize where and how you can make effective change. — Aaron Ott

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