Playing Favorites: Sheila O’Rourke & Bertil Vallien

We’ve asked FWMoA staff the hardest question you can ask art museum people: so, what is your favorite artwork currently on display? As “art museum people”, we often get asked about our favorite artists, artworks, and the art we choose to hang on our own walls. Since not all of our staff are front-end, and not all of them write for the blog, this series gives everyone a chance to get to know them, too. Taking advantage of our rotating exhibitions of artworks, from painted portraits to sculpted bronzes, FWMoA staff from all departments are choosing artworks that enthrall and enchant them; or, in other words, playing favorites.

A portrait of the author, Sheila O'Rourke, she stands smiling into the camera with her favorite artwork in the background.
Sheila O’Rourke, Visitor Services Security Guard at FMWoA. Photo courtesy of FWMoA.

Sheila O’Rourke, Visitor Services Security Guard, is ending her tenure at the FWMoA after 3 years. To thank her for greeting visitors at the desk with her warm smile and watching the art on the walls, we’ve asked her to pick the piece she has most loved protecting! Her current favorite? A glass piece featured in our rotating collection of Contemporary Studio Glass by Bertil Vallien, BE197.

A sandcast boat sits in a hand-made cradle in a gallery at FWMoA.
Bertil Vallien, Swedish, b. 1938. BE 197. Sandcast glass and steel, 1997. Museum purchase with funds from the June E. Enoch Collection Fund. Image courtesy of FWMoA.

Q: What is the first thing you noticed about this artwork? What drew you to this particular piece?

A: The sense of the modern and the ancient. History and dreams floating in a world I want to fall into.

Q: Would you hang this artwork in your home? Why or why not?

A: This is always the question for any artwork for me: could I live with it? I could live with any of Vallien’s work!

Q: What does this artwork mean to you?

A: It is what all Vallien’s work is to me, this “other” world that is both distant and tethered to us at the same time.

Q: Why did you choose to work in an art museum?

A: Because art fills the soul! And, this is a fantastic local place that I love sharing with people.

Q: What has been your favorite exhibition at FWMoA during your employment? What exhibition are you most looking forward to in the next year or two?

A: Can never pick just one, so here are my top three favorites: Bertil Vallien, Yusuf Karsh, and Alma Thomas.

Q: What kid of art (if any) do you have in your home?

A: I own a variety of local artists, abstract, landscapes, and portraits. I have about 30 pieces of original art, as I love supporting local artist’s!

Come visit FWMoA to see Sheila’s favorite work along with other glass selections from the Permanent Collection, inlcuding Ashely Stoneburner’s favorite work, Bagged Bags.

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