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In our Q&A series, we profile members of the McNay staff to show a behind-the-scenes look at all the people who make the McNay what it is! Today’s post features Jody Blake, Curator, Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts.
What is your role at the McNay? Walk us through a typical workday in your shoes.
Becoming Curator of the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts, after years as a university professor, has given me new ways to do what I love most: researching, teaching, and publishing. There is nothing more exciting than unraveling the mysteries behind scenes, costume designs and bringing them to life in exhibitions and programs. It is a privilege to introduce visitors to one of the best theatre collections in the world.
What do you like to do outside of work? Where do you like to go in San Antonio?
Several years ago, I realized my dream: to live on the San Antonio River Walk. My loft is halfway between Donald Lipski’s Fish and Bill Fontana’s Sonic Passage, my favorite art installations on the Museum Reach. It is fascinating to observe the daily and seasonal rhythms of plants, birds, reptiles, and humans, as well as the transformation of the once-derelict industrial and commercial landscape.
What has been your favorite exhibition at the McNay so far and why?
Songs of Social Significance was a breakthrough exhibition. After several years of “safe” themes, we addressed poverty, workers’ rights, and racism in productions including Berthold Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera and the Labor Stage’s Pins and Needles. Thanks to designer Myrna Colley Lee, we were privileged to present Ifa Bayeza’s The Ballad of Emmet Till. Read by students from St. Phillips College, the play continues to haunt me.
What is one thing about the McNay you wish everyone knew?
When you visit the McNay, keep on walking past Diego Rivera, Henri Matisse, and Georgia O’Keeffe until you get to the Tobin Collection! Even if you are not a theatergoer, you’ll discover great storytelling and be fascinated by how scenery and costumes are made.