Five Questions: Mary Biggs

Five questions to SFMOMA artists, staff, or guests.  Today I spoke with Mary Biggs, the docent program assistant at SFMOMA.  Mary organizes every Look, Learn, Create tour for elementary and middle school classes as well as all the summer youth tours and daily docent tours. That’s something like sixteen thousand schoolkids a year. It’s truly a feat.

Mary Biggs at her desk

Do you collect anything?

I have a pig collection that started out as a funny joke from somebody and it ended up being that everybody started giving me pigs and now I have enough ornaments to do a whole tree in pigs and I have pigs all over everywhere. I’m willing them all to one of my granddaughters who collects pigs. They’re cute, they really are. My absolute favorite is one we call Wilbur who sits on the edge of a table and his legs hang down. My granddaughter wanted to hold him one day and so I said, “You have to be careful you don’t break him” and she said “Oh, I won’t, I won’t” and then crash! We managed to put him all back together with crazy glue, except for one little hole in his bottom. I’m giving her that one when she gets married. So, that’s my collection. I’m not really a collector.

If you could steal any artwork in the world to have up in your home, what would it be?

There are two things in this museum that I’d love to steal. One of them is the Luc Tuymans, the explosion that reminds you of 911, but it’s not. I love it, I absolutely love it, I love the colors in it, I love the textures in it, I love the whole thing. The other ones I love are the Ewan Gibbs. I want to buy one of those. They are just beautiful. My third choice would be The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer. I’m kind of all over the place.

What do you listen to while you work?

The clattering of other peoples’ computers. I don’t listen to anything, actually. At home I always have the TV on because it’s background noise and it fills the room, but as far as music I listen to it in the car all the time. I like to listen to rock, I listen to 97.3 and the American Idol people.

What’s your favorite tool?

My mind. I think that’s the one thing that really is a means to any end. If you’re talking about mechanical tools, I love power tools. I love my power drill. I’m big into hardware stores, I love to do that. But I think it would be my mind. That’s the one thing that you need to keep sharp.

What should I ask you?

What do I consider my best asset? I would say my ability to get along with people. I really like to do things that involve people. Ever since I was really little I seemed to always be able to deal well with people, and be effective in whatever I do because I can do that. When I was in high school I was the student body president and when I was in college I was the president of the senior class. I’ve always been able to take that leadership role in organizing people.  I will never take a job where I wouldn’t be able to do that. I could never work at home.

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