Kaz Cooper

Kaz Cooper

Festival volunteer: Assistant Curator

Kaz first got in touch with the Institute when she applied for an internship. We suggested that she volunteer for the BOing festival, and from that opportunity she landed a role as Assistant Curator for the Welcome to Our World exhibition.

Kaz's story

I was over the moon when the Institute sent me the email suggesting that I volunteer for the bOing Festival. Employers do not usually reach out to interviewees if they have filled the position with another candidate. Receiving that email was encouraging and boosted my self-esteem, reaffirming that not being the first choice didn’t necessarily mean failure. I truly appreciated that. 

After confirming my volunteer position with Gulbenkian manager, Rebecca Brown, I went back to focusing on my coursework for my MA Curating degree. Ever since I was a child I have been in love with Art and luckily for me my parents were always supportive of my curiosity and artistic nature. 

About me

My greatest desire is to merge Art and Psychology with everything I do.

I was actively trying to learn more about autism when this opportunity came along.

Since I moved to the UK I have learnt that autism is heavily stigmatised. I had begun to notice this, and found it strange, but never read deeply into it. I had several conversations with friends to gauge the bias and in doing so realised that I didn’t know nearly enough about autism, even though I have a few friends on the spectrum and I'm really interested in psychology.

When I first heard about the Welcome to Our World exhibition, (WOW) I had already made my commitment to volunteering at the BOing festival and I was about to withdraw my application to volunteer for WOW, when I was informed that the exhibition was actually part of the featured events at BOing!. 

I was so grateful and relieved.  I then asked if it would be possible to have me assigned specifically to the WOW exhibition, since I had not yet been designated to a specific area of the festival. Everything fell into place after that.  

The Exhibition

We started setup at the beginning of the week before the bOing Festival. We sourced plinths from the architecture department and I was allowed to repaint a few of them in black. Originally, they were hesitant to ask me to do so, as they believed I probably felt that this wasn’t what I signed up for, but my BA is in Visual Art so I was delighted to get my hands into some paint! 


We met throughout the week to organise the layout and so that I could become familiar with the projection equipment. I had recently finished a three month internship at Lilford Gallery, and my experiences enabled me to share some insights about positioning the art work in the studio space.

It was so fulfilling to work on this exhibition with Dr. Rocio von Jungenfeld and Dr. Melissa Trimingham because I was able to ask questions and make suggestions freely. 

Melissa showed me the beautiful pieces created by the young autistic women involved in the project, then she set me loose in the studio to do as I felt best! 

 "Kaz was very helpful during the set-up and de-rig of the AHRC-funded Playing A/Part Welcome to Our World exhibition (University of Kent) which I co-curated. She was a reliable pair of hands, on time, and invigilated the exhibition during opening times for the bOing! festival. I would certainly be happy to have Kaz working as part of my team again. I have no doubts she will be a great team player in the next curatorial project she embarks on."  Dr Rocio Von Jungenfeld, Senior Lecturer in Digital Media and Co-Investigator of PlayingA/Part project.

If you had asked me two years ago, what I thought I would be doing or where I might be, I would not have guessed this but I am unbelievably grateful and beguiled by how little things can turn your life upside-down and bring you the experiences you always dreamed of having.  

 "Kaz was a lovely, fully committed student. She is highly articulate and very perceptive in relation to modes of display. She made a great contribution to the group. She is confident in expressing her own ideas and sensitive to others - often voicing novel, creative ideas. She has been generous in offering time to support initiatives, such as WoW, that were situated beyond the course".  Dr Catherine Hahn, Lecturer in Art History.


I believe that a person can tell when they are moving in the right direction, if their career path recharges instead of drains them.

Kaz Cooper