Fourth-year art student Naomi Moynihan has been the Zillman Art Museum’s curatorial intern since August 2022. Her energy has been specifically focused on curating her own ominously titled exhibit “In the Shadows: Works from the Collection.” She selected the pieces, wrote information about them and assisted with the installation process. The unsettling theme of the exhibit was an intentional choice by Moynihan.
“I feel like, in my own work, I like to do creepier, darker stuff, so I thought it would be interesting to do something in the same area,” Moynihan said.
From the neighboring town of Bangor, Maine, Moynihan chose to attend the University of Maine for its close proximity to home and its stellar art facilities.
“UMaine has a really nice print studio, so I spend a lot of time there,” she said.
Moynihan’s eerie exhibit presents a stark contrast against the more lively, colorful exhibits throughout the rest of the museum. It creates variety and is often a shock to the viewer. She chose the theme simply by collecting pieces she was drawn to.
“I haven’t really seen a show focused specifically on this theme, which I feel like makes it more interesting,” she stated.
As a student majoring in studio art and minoring in graphic design, many of her own works mirror the sinister tone seen throughout “In The Shadows.” With concentrations in painting and printmaking, much of Moynihan’s own work is meticulously detailed.
“In the Shadows” houses various different kinds of art, including etchings, prints and photographs. Each occupies an intentional space in the two-roomed gallery, revealing Moynihan’s tedious awareness of the viewer’s experience. One wall solely contains photographic images, allowing the viewer to compare and contrast between them.
Though themes of darkness and fear are heavily prevalent throughout, Moynihan had trouble naming her exhibit. It was a daunting task to encapsulate the multifaceted emotions of several pieces of artwork into a few words.
“It was hard to come up with a title, to describe it, because I feel like all the pieces are based on the emotion of fear,” she said.
Although Moynihan was not particularly drawn to museum work prior to the internship, she has quickly come to enjoy curatorial work. It has given her inspiration and experience which will be beneficial in her future career.
She especially appreciated the behind-the-scenes aspects of museum work. As an art student, it was academically valuable and personally exciting to be surrounded by thousands of pieces of professional art.
“One thing I really liked is just being able to see the whole collection. I think it’s over 4,000 pieces they have in the permanent collection,” Moynihan said. “It’s been really cool to see how many different pieces they have.”
Although Moynihan has enjoyed the purely artistic aspects of her internship, she’s found value and enjoyment in the technical tasks as well.
“I’ve gotten to help with installing and uninstalling the shows, which has been really interesting to see that side of the museum. I feel like that’s probably been one of my favorite parts,” she said.
Her favorite piece in the exhibit is “Gates of Hell” by Michael Mannheim. It’s a photograph which exudes an incredible amount of fear, confusion and anxiety.
“He took multiple exposures into one film slide. You can feel the movement and the emotion of it,” she said.
The piece that Moynihan believes is the most unsettling is Robert Flint’s 2005 piece “Untitled.”
“It’s like he’s being grabbed away, and also the way the bones and stuff are overlaid, it’s almost like you’re seeing through him,” Moynihan stated.
Moynihan’s own artwork is currently on display in the Lord Hall Gallery. She is excited to graduate this spring and is hoping to move to a larger city. Her internship at the Zillman Art Museum has given her newfound inspiration for her future career.
“In the Shadows” runs through April 29, 2023 at the Zillman Art Museum in Bangor, Maine. Admission is free. More information can be found at