Terrena Boss

Top 40 Under 40 2010

Photography Constantine Tanasiuk

Age: 29

Job Title: Manager of exhibitions and art education, Harcourt House Arts Centre

Why She’s A Top 40: She helps make art education accessible to everyone and the Edmonton arts community more connected.

Key To Her Success: She recognizes the importance of marketing and networking for artists, and she shares that knowledge with her peers at Harcourt House, one of Edmonton’s three artist-run centres, to help foster a stronger, smarter visual arts community.

Working overtime on any given day of the week is not unusual for Terrena Boss. As the primary co-ordinator of Harcourt House‘s two gallery spaces, its dozens of art education classes, its community programming and its artist-in-residence program, Boss describes herself as a “get-your-hands-dirty type.”

“I know I sound like a Nike ad, but I say, ‘Just do it,'” she says after another late night at the office. This time, Boss and other members of Edmonton’s visual arts community were busy boiling down the selection of candidates for Harcourt House’s next artist in residence, the only residency in Edmonton that provides an artist with a rent-free studio for a year, a materials stipend and an exhibition.

Boss started with Harcourt at the beginning of 2009 and hit the ground running. During a turbulent year of rotating staff and no executive director, she stepped up as manager of exhibitions and art education to keep its shows, classes and community programs running. In addition, she took on administrative tasks and organized the centre’s annual silent auction, its prime fundraising initiative.

“In a three-person office, missing any one person is a huge loss,” says Boss, who, along with co-worker Marilyn Glenn, held down the fort until a new director was hired last spring. Through a big smile, she says, “It’s always a tornado, but you just have to hold your ground.”

Somehow Boss still finds the time to work in the studio as an emerging and multi-disciplined artist, working in media from painting to performance art.

With an education in fine arts and business, Boss realized early on the importance of marketing herself. She spent three seasons as Harcourt House’s summer student, networking with members of the community and national artists coming through the centre. Having made a strong impression on the organization, Boss had her current job lined up as soon as she completed her studies at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2008.

Now she has plans to grow the artist-in-residence program by bringing in a greater diversity of artists. She also wants to increase the centre’s professional development opportunities with more workshops aimed at honing the business side of being an artist.

As she puts it: “The artists who are marketing themselves – who have the guts to say, ‘Hey, look at me!’ – are the ones getting recognized, because they know how important and vital it is to get their name out there in this game.”

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