Newsletter 2021: Graduate Summer Professional Dev Funding
Monday, May 17, 2021
Monday, May 17, 2021
Graduate Student Summer Professional Development Funding
Matthew Blanchard worked with Dr. Danielle Carrabino at the Smith College Museum of Art (SCMA) to write wall text for the reinstallation of late 19th century American art. Artists represented in the installation included some of the most well-known painters, such as Albert Bierstadt and James McNeill Whistler, as well as lesser known, but no less skilled, artists like John F. Peto and Benjamin Champney. Matthew also wrote a blog post for the SCMA on an oil sketch by Bierstadt and worked on a collection of Greek and south Italian vases. He was able to identify the signature of the potter Xenokles on a previously-unattributed Attic black-figure lip cup and attributed a red-figure oinochoe (wine pitcher) to the Spotted Rock Group of Capua in Campania, Italy. Matthew also studied the ancient Greek language over the summer with the financial support of the department.
This summer, with funding provided by the University of Massachusetts Department of History of Art and Architecture, I interned at the Charleston Museum, where I worked both as a historic house interpreter at the Heyward-Washington House and for the summer camps run by the museum’s education department. At the Heyward-Washington House I learned much about furniture and woodworking from the late 18th century to the early 19th century, as well as about how to run and maintain a 250-year-old house! For the education department, I wrote informational papers about certain aspects of the ancient world and life, including comparing ancient slavery to American slavery, daily life in ancient Rome and Greece, and ancient Greek hoplite battles (with instruction for a mock battle for kids). With the connections and experience gained this summer, I have been offered a part-time position at the Heyward-Washington House while I finish my degree, a position that will become full time once I graduate from the program.
During the summer of 2020, Jill Hughes worked with Professor Karen Kurczynski as a research assistant for her book project, Drawing in Color. Hughes collected and organized existing research on contemporary artists whose drawing work engages meaningfully with their identities. In working with Professor Kurczynski, Hughes had the opportunity to witness and participate in the generative idea stage of an experienced scholar’s long-term project. Additionally, Hughes received a Walter Denny Scholarship which served to support her continued work as a curatorial fellow on the Artifacts at the End of a Decade exhibition project for the University Museum of Contemporary Art. Hughes and her co-curator, Jessica Scott conducted an interview with the co-creators of the artists’ book Artifacts at the End of a Decade and, with the assistance of fellow graduate student Yonatan Levia, developed an extensive digital exhibition that included audio tours, photos, and video footage. The exhibition’s opening reception was held on February 25th, 2021. The exhibit is currently on display at the UMCA and online through fall 2021. Scott and Hughes will also be presenting their curatorial work on Artifacts at the PCA/ACA National Conference in June 2021.
The summer funding provided by the History of Art and Architecture Department at UMass Amherst allowed me to pursue an unpaid internship at the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Mass. The initial goal was to further investigate a painting in the museum’s collection, Morning in the Bowl of Night by Alma Thomas. The position soon developed into much more than that. I worked under Emma Chubb, the Charlotte Feng Ford ’83 Curator of Contemporary Art at SCMA, and I assisted her on several projects and initiatives over the course of three months. I also worked alongside other museum staff and interns in the creation of an interactive, campus-wide public art map. In this uniquely challenging time, I was afforded a close look at not only how museum curators and education staff develop and deploy programming, but also how they confront issues of access during a pandemic as well as how they respond to the long overdue calls for the development of all-inclusive and explicitly anti-racist initiatives from the museum.
During the month of June 2020, I assisted the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College as a collections management intern with the responsibility of tagging keywords for prints. At the end of each week, I would reflect on one particular print that I had tagged and write a blog post containing introductory information on the artist and suggest avenues of research for future student use. In the summer, I was the Andrew W. Mellon curatorial intern in prints, drawings and photographs at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum in Providence, R.I. There I conducted preliminary research on works of art from the museum’s collection that related to themes of disability representation and contributed wall labels for two of the artworks included in the final exhibition. In addition to my curatorial research, I also developed an independent project where I created paper collages of male nude bodies to explore the lack of transgender representation in the museum’s permanent collection.