Spotlight Interview: Alexis Slater

Alexis Slater: Graduate Student

University of Texas at Austin: MA in Art History, Criticism and Conservation

Austin, TX
WFU Class of 2016
Double Major: Art History & History


Alexis Slater graduated from Wake Forest and went straight into a job at Polskin Arts in LA, doing PR for museums and cultural institutions. While in this role Alexis realized she wanted to be the one telling the stories instead of pitching them. She is now obtaining her MA in Art History at UT Austin, preparing to enter the curatorial field. We interviewed Alexis in Fall 2017 before her class trip to Germany to learn more about her story.

DeacLink: Tell us about what you’re doing at the moment.

Alexis Slater: I am currently getting my MA at UT Austin, with a focus on the Northern Renaissance working with Dr. Jeffrey Chipps Smith (whose work I had read in Dr. Bernadine Barnes’ Northern Renaissance course at WFU). I wanted to work with Dr. Smith because the questions he asked in his work are some of the questions I’m personally curious about. This idea of seeking out scholars that ask the “right” research questions was something that I learned from a conversation with Dr. Barnes my senior year at Wake and really impacted my search for the right grad program. 

In one of my favorite classes this semester, I’m studying Cologne and Nuremberg in the late medieval to early Renaissance period with Dr. Smith and Dr. Joan Holladay. We are going to visit both these cities next week. It’s really important to see these things we’re studying in person, in their original contexts—you certainly can learn more in person than from a slide.

I am also taking a class about Roman architecture during the Republic; we cover construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction which ties in with my interest in cultural heritage.

DL: Sounds like a great program. Could you elaborate further on the experience?

AS: As a whole grad school is challenging in a way I wasn’t necessarily expecting, but I’m very appreciative of the experience. I can already see myself improving as a thinker and a scholar. It requires a different level of thinking and a lot of figuring how things work on your feet. For example, being assigned readings in languages I don’t speak (which is pretty intimidating) forces me to figure that out. Assignments like this are great for expanding the mind and making me more flexible as a historian and person.

I’m also surprised at the amount of group projects there are in grad school. It’s been useful from a teamwork standpoint, and sometimes group members are fluent in the languages our assigned texts are written in. There is so much more to be learned from original texts than an English translation; the original Italian or French can get more points across about the work we’re studying.

DL: Take us through your journey to grad school since Wake. We understand you had worked a job before enrolling?

AS: Yes- I graduated from Wake Forest having completed a double major in Art History and History. My thesis in History was on Alexander the Great’s conquest in Persia, with an emphasis on cultural heritage. Specifically, I looked at his destruction of the palace at Persepolis. My art historical thesis focused on the influence of the female patron, Elisabeth Borluut, in the commissioning and creation of the Ghent Altarpiece. I was actually able to conduct research in Belgium for this through Wake’s Lynn Johnson Travel Award. In the spring before my senior year, I travelled to Ghent and Bruges where I was able to see the Ghent Altarpiece in the flesh. Seeing the original chapel setting of the Ghent Altarpiece was instrumental in helping figure out a new way to view this important (and frequently written about) work. I noticed that the keystone of the “Vijd chapel”, which was a coat of arms, was actually split between Vijd and Borluut heralrdy! This in-person discovery—something I hadn’t seen mentioned in my reading—totally changed how I thought about the entire altarpiece. 

I took a year after graduation to live in Los Angeles, where I was working for Polskin Arts and Communications Counselors. Polskin is a firm working specifically with museums and cultural institutions, with an impressively wide range of clients like MoMA, the Whitney, SFMoMA and The Broad.

My role here was mostly focused on an account for The Getty Initiative, which comprises more than eighty exhibitions and institutions outside of California all tied into the arching theme of Latino and South American art. I also worked on the reopening of Hollywood’s Ford Theatres, and worked on projects and events for the Natural History Museum and the Sotheby’s LA office. 

PR for museums and institutions was fun, and definitely a challenge outside my area of familiarity. I came in with basic knowledge from a previous marketing and communications internship, but the role at Polskin required me to foster relationships with local and national press, whether it’s getting them to cover an exhibition or attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony. I had to find common links between the scope of an exhibition and the interests of a publication. Through this you get to know exhibitions really well; I was able to attend previews and explore archives as part of my job which was really great.

I realized during this year, that I wanted to be the one telling stories instead of pitching them. I craved a more active role in art history- asking questions, doing the research, writing theses, and crafting the stories I wanted to tell. The questions you’re allowed to ask in art history can go deeper, and be, of course, more academic, than journalism allows. With this realization I decided to pursue grad school.

DL: The work experience you’ve had seems very beneficial. How did you find and apply to the Polskin position, and previous internships?

AS: Interestingly, the Polskin representatives had come to a USC (University of Southern California) class in February to field interest among students, because the women who run the LA office got their masters there. They were after a USC candidate, but my friend in the class that day texted me saying the role would suit me perfectly. I applied off her recommendation but was initially told that because of timing, it wouldn’t work out. Once I graduated from Wake and moved back to LA in May, I sent an email to Polskin asking if they were still looking for somebody; which they were. I interviewed shortly after and started days later. The circumstances certainly fell into place on this occasion.

Most of my other internships I simply applied for online; the Reynolda House internship was a fantastic opportunity, and Wake students should definitely look into their many internships within the program. They offer focuses like educational development or marketing and communications (I did education my sophomore year and marketing as a senior). Both of these experiences primed me incredibly well to go forward, and they’re such passionate people at Reynolda with a real interest in helping students.

I also did an internship at the National Portrait Gallery in DC, which I applied for through their online application portal. For the NPG I interviewed on the phone with the curatorial team of the Painting and Sculpture department, which included Chief Curator Brandon Brame Fortune and Curator Dorothy Moss.

Another slightly random but interesting internship was on I did in Berlin while studying abroad. I had attended an artist talk at the gallery, Kinderhook & Caracas during Berlin Art Week, and found the space really interesting. I sent them a cold email afterward stating my interest in the space and the projects going on there. They had me helping with an exhibition in my time there- a performance work by Norwegian artist Hanne Lippard.

DL: That’s great- reaching out and being assertive can really go a long way! What works best during interviews, from your range of experiences?

AS: It’s okay to take time with your answers. If you rush into your response, you might not say what you really wanted to. If a question catches you off-guard, take a moment to breathe and search your brain for the words you want to use. Avoid using ‘um’ and ‘uh’ as well!

DL: How do you like living and studying in Austin? What is the art scene like there?

AS: Austin is a very cool city, with lots of energy pulsing through the air. We have Austin Art Fair in October which always brings a buzz; the gallery scene is expanding quickly as well. There’s also a prevalence of live music- even at my local grocery store on the weekends. Austin is called the live music capital of the world, and they’re very dedicated to this distinction.

Austin is sprawling like LA, so you need a car here. The traffic can be pretty bad, which reminds me of home but is obviously more frustrating than comforting. It’s definitely a cool place to move.. I wish there were more Wake alums here! It’s a very lively place and everyone is excited to be here.

DL: What’s the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on, or currently go by?

AS: Be open! Don’t limit yourself or think you’re set in something. When changes come your way, accept and roll with them. If you keep your heart and mind open to new experiences, you’ll gravitate toward the things that interest you along the way naturally. Don’t ever allow yourself to feel stuck or stationary- change is always a good thing.

Spotlight: Julia Young

Julia Young: Studio Manager, Sterling Ruby

Los Angeles, CA
WFU Class of 2012
Major: Art History

Julia Young lives and works in LA, managing the daily ongoings of artist Sterling Ruby's studio. Since graduating from Wake in 2012, Julia's path has led her through multiple cities and experiences. Julia recently shared her story and great bits of advice with us.


DeacLink: I know that you were an Art History major at Wake. What led you to choose that major?

Julia Young: I’m a DC native, so growing up in the city where art was always at my fingertips was a huge part of my upbringing & my falling in love with art. The Smithsonian Institutions were just a metro stop away, so as kids, we often wandered down to the Mall just to take in all these cultural icons. I went to public high school in DC, where my AP Art History teacher Mrs. Huberman, first introduced me to the 101s of art’s history. I have a very clear memory of taking a field trip to the Phillips Collection, where she asked each of us to pick out a piece that we wanted to talk about. It was the first time I saw an El Greco painting so intimately; the piece is titled The Repentant St. Peter. I remember first putting into words how the light in the painting made me feel, and how the figure’s gaze was so remorseful and hopeful simultaneously. It was the first time I considered what might be beautiful in an artwork, and how an artist uses the medium to start a conversation. I’m sure you can remember the first time you had a visceral reaction to a piece?  

I fell in love with the important job the viewer has when taking in a piece - to describe those feelings one feels, to consider the artist’s actions, the sociopolitical realm in which the piece was made. Anyway, it was inevitable I would choose Art History as my major after that. 

At Wake, the Art History community was so small and intimate, I truly felt that every professor wanted you to do well and to use their expertise as much as possible. David Lubin and Harry Titus largely influenced me, and I consider these men to be true mentors and supporters of my interests and ambitions. I was also an athlete in school, but after a back injury in 2009, I left the field hockey team. While it was heartbreaking, the opportunity to study abroad in Rome arose, which only further fed my love for art. When one door closes, another opens. 

I spent much of my senior year in 2012 helping David build a curriculum focused on Italian Modernism. The independent research, self-learning and exploration I embarked on during that time became invaluable to me, and certainly reignited my interest in returning to Italy.

DL: Since graduating, how has your career unfolded? What’s been the biggest surprise?

JY: All of it has been a surprise! I feel I’ve taken the less traditional “art world” route, but every turn I’ve made has given me a new set of tools and insights I would have never known before. 

Before graduating from Wake, I was recommended by David Lubin to apply for the Peggy Guggenheim internship in Venice. When I was accepted into the program after graduation, I promptly packed up and moved to Venice. That experience fed my yearning for the story of  art. Peggy’s story is unique, and so is her villa that houses her impeccable collection. There, I came to understand the contemporary patron, and that these famous artists - the ones the canon and market have turned into untouchable icons - they too needed support, and were once not famous. Learning about Peggy and her support for the arts honestly encouraged me to explore how we support artists in our communities today.

Right after leaving the Guggenheim, I moved back to DC and began working for Transformer, which is a non-profit artist-run initiative that supports local emerging artists. At Transformer, it was cool to see how a small art space could garner so much cultural support and integrity in the art field, securing funding through numerous commissions and foundations, including The Andy Warhol Foundation since the gallery’s inception. The focus at this space was different: we didn’t curate the art, we curated the artists. It was pivotal point in my career where I began thinking about whose story am I was trying to tell. I began to understand the importance of developmental support for young artists, how to encourage post-collegiate growth, and how to treat their work as their profession. 

At Transformer, I was the Gallery Manager and Exhibition Coordinator for three-and-a-half years. While there, I met my fiance, who is a sound artist, and was based in DC. I brought him in to work with several sound artists for a project and exhibition. We soon began dating, and in 2015 we found ourselves looking to explore new horizons. We moved to LA that spring. 

LA is a very different art world than DC or NY. My initial job once settling in LA was with the Tappan Collective, an online gallery ambitiously introducing emerging artists to the commercial world.  Founded in 2012, it came about when Artsy was beginning to take off, and the idea of selling work online was becoming less taboo. Tappan rode that wave. I joined Tappan’s small team (at the time) as their first Artist Manager. My goal with Tappan was to bring developmental & professional support to these artists through the online platform, not just sales. With this in mind, I began their artist residency program, and created a developmental component to the company that truly supported the artists through feedback and professional support outside of sales. It was an artist-centric approach to whole online experience. 

Tappan is fantastic and continues to do well, but I left last spring in search of finding time to meditate on what my passions really are. I felt that my vision for an artist support system could not truly be created within a sales-centric platform.

And now, I’ve found myself nestled somewhere in the middle... In August I began working for an LA-based contemporary artist. At his studio, where I am one of nearly 25 other employees, I’m learning how he has built a true business around his production. I manage administrative work for the studio, and assist the studio director with managing deadlines with galleries, museums, and commissioned projects. I’m grateful to be a part of such a production, and I’m learning so much about the business necessities artists should consider for finding success. Studios that function at this scale are so impressive, and it certainly does not happen overnight!  

This position has given me some personal time back, which I’ve used to do grant writing for an LA-Bangkok based non-profit, make strides on my own artist consulting, and plan our wedding.

DL:  How much did your time at Wake inform your career path?

JY: Greatly - I had support from professors who encouraged me to explore all sorts of interests, and not try to fit my ideas into one box. 

DL: What has it been like working for an artist, and what’s are some of the big takeaways?
JY: There are a few. Despite the number of people working for him, he has a commitment to his practice. It should resonate with everyone in the field, you have to commit to it to see success. Coupled with his commitment to the studio, and the studio model itself, it’s amazing to see what can happen when you have your commitment to your work in check. I’m learning about the underbelly, the artist’s own system that needs to be in place in order to see success. These days I often think of how I can advise artists on organizing their own businesses. There are certains setups and standards that you need to put in place to be successful, I don’t think a lot of art schools are necessarily teaching these things. Your system may differ in size, but there needs to be a system. 

DL: How have you found the different jobs you've had? Applications? Networking? A combination of both?

JY: It’s been a combination of both. With the Guggenheim, I was recommended by Lubin. Transformer, I applied on my own and interviewed with them. I had heard of Tappan, but an artist friend introduced me to me to the founder. With my current position, I used the New York Foundation for the Arts, which is a great resource for job opportunities and grant resources. 

I’ve explored many facets of the art world, and I think that’s helped me. I am not tied to one idea of where I should be. I am still taking in information and considering the systems in place. If I’m still learning, it’s not time to leave yet. Experience only helps clarify your vision the longer you keep at it. I apply for things occasionally, just to see if there’s something else out there. Even if you are employed, I think it’s healthy to always have an idea of what else is out there. A diverse CV with lots of experience in the art world isn’t a bad one. There is certainly no one straight path in this field, and it’s continuing to diversify. 

DL: Often times as undergraduates, students are pushed into academia or into the curatorial track at a museum. What advice do you have for readers interested in taking their own route?

JY: It might sound silly, but go after what makes you feel excited. You spend four years as an undergrad, liking some things, not liking others, and then there is this moment where you can still choose your own adventure. People’s circumstances are different, but don't just settle for security right off the bat. You’re going to get there eventually. Find something that opens your mind and makes you excited, that perhaps makes you think about something in the art world a little differently. You need to keep your doors open.  

DL: Most students have their eyes set on moving to New York after graduation. How do you like living in Los Angeles? What advice do you have for students considering pursuing a career in the city? 

JY: LA is an incredibly eclectic, sprawling and beautiful place. I’ve lived here almost three years, and am honestly just beginning to feel like this is home. I don’t recommend coming here for a long weekend and determining after that short experience whether or not this is the city for you. You’ll be disappointed. LA reveals itself to you the longer you spend time getting to know it. When I got out here, I didn’t have a job lined up. I had given myself a little cushion to explore options and get settled before I jumped into a job. 

There are many levels and layers of the arts here, from museum institutions, to commercial galleries, performance spaces to artist-run galleries, arts activist initiatives to non-profits, artist studios and museum-gallery hybrids. It’s all here. It’s vague advice, but I would recommend to any student that immersing yourself in the place is the best first step. Get in the habit of checking job listing websites on the daily while planning what spaces, lectures, and openings you might attend that evening. Put yourself out there and ask questions.

DL: What do you think Wake arts could do to better prepare students for life after graduation?

JY: I think they should consider having a visiting artist/arts professional program, setting up a mentorship program to support current students. It would be so awesome to be an undergrad and have these types of resources.

DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on to current students and recent alums?

JY: You build your own expectations for yourself. You are at the helm of your own ship - there is a lot of soul searching that happens after you finish school. You create your own rules and guidelines, and if you don't like them, change them.  I have kept that in mind with every opportunity that I encounter, and it has been really helpful for me and keeps me motivated. 

Spotlight Interview: Lizzie Axelson

Lizzie Axelson: Membership Operations & Marketing Manager, Hillwood Estate Museum & Gardens

Washington, DC

WFU Class of 2014

Major: English

Double Minor: Art History & Journalism

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Lizzie Axelson is based in DC running marketing and operations at Hillwood Estate Museum & Gardens. We spoke with Lizzie to learn how she transitioned after graduation from the Forest.


DeacLink: Tell us what you're up to in your career.

LA: After a little over two years at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, I was recently promoted to I am the Membership Operations and Marketing Manager. On a day-to-day basis, I am developing marketing materials and plans to promote the museum and gardens to bring visitors in the door while leading our membership department. We had our highest visitation in 2017 and are really excited to expand on that this year, growing our membership base and deepening visitor engagement. On a given day I can be writing renewal and acknowledgement letters, drafting social media posts, organizing events, working on the website, crafting promotional emails, and more - no two days are the same. Hillwood has really dedicated members who love our hidden gem, and we are constantly working to expand that base and better their experience, through communications and events, such as receptions and exhibition previews. I work closely with many departments - particularly visitor services, interpretation, and curatorial - to best market Hillwood to the public and further connect with those who already really enjoy it.


DL: How have you found the different jobs and internships you've had? Applications? Networking? A combination of both?

LA: Strangely enough, most of the jobs and internships I have had resulted from just sending in applications, though I strongly encourage networking, especially for museum positions. Speaking with other alums or past internship supervisors about their experience and careers is really informative and helpful, though I will say that in the art world, no two paths are exactly alike. I have tried to take advantage of every opportunity, even if they were just internships or part-time jobs, because each job teaches you something and better prepares you for the next one. Really develop relationships with the people you are meeting and working with - even if you do not start with your ideal job or internship, hard work and strong connections make a huge difference. And if you aren’t quite sure where to start, find local Wake Forest grads - I’ve been fortunate enough to meet up with a group of art alums in DC, which has been really interesting and rewarding. 


DL: The non-curatorial route in museums seem to be a popular career option for art alums. How did you make the transition, and what is the hardest part about breaking into the museum field?

LA: Perhaps shockingly, my goal was never to go the curatorial or collections route post-grad. Marketing was where I wanted to be because I love the idea of encouraging people to visit museums and take advantage of their beauty and accessibility and the amazing resources they offer. I really enjoy sharing museums with the public and expanding the number of visitors. Perhaps the hardest thing about breaking into the museum world is that it can be pretty small, there’s not always a lot of movement - often people love their jobs and stay at institutions for a long time. A lot of it can be networking, and you can’t be above taking any job, even if it’s not perfect or glamorous. Starting early, especially in undergrad, through internships and informational interviews and networking is vital - that and being willing to take jobs in the field that may not be your exact interest. Once you have your foot in the door in the museum world, it’s a bit easier to move around. 


DL:  How do you like living in DC? What advice do you have for students considering pursuing a career in the city?

LA: I love DC. I was lucky enough to grow up here and knew that I wanted to come back after graduation, at least for a while. It’s a beautiful city with so much going on, both in the arts and in general, and I appreciate that it is a bit more mellow than New York. DC combines the best of a large, bustling city with the neighborhood feeling of smaller places. People tend to solely think of Smithsonian when thinking of the arts or museums in DC, so I encourage anyone interested to think outside of that more traditional box. There are a fair number of smaller museums in addition to art galleries and arts organizations. that are really great. 


DL: What do you think Wake arts could do to better prepare students for life after graduation?

LA: The art department at Wake is wonderful, and it is so unique that professors really take the time to know the students and develop relationships with them. However, it would  have been extremely helpful to have a bit more of a focus on the art world itself. One of my favorite classes was the Arts Management course since it fleshed out the art world from a business perspective and really provided an idea of how to transition a love and appreciation of the arts into a career.

Rather than graduating with just an amazing knowledge of art history, I had a solid foundation for the practicalities of art in the real world and how I could apply what I had learned. While that particular class is limited in size, it would have been quite helpful to have similar courses to deepen that understanding and really prepare students for life in the arts after graduation.


DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on to current students and recent alums?

LA: Honestly, and it sounds so corny, but find and follow your passion. A career in the arts is not always easy - there’s not always a traditional path and it is not as financially lucrative as other fields - but if you love what you do and find your job rewarding, it makes it worth it. Talk to people and learn all the different aspects of the arts, in terms of the business and careers available - there are so many opportunities out there in the art world. Make the most out of your network - social, alumni, professional - anything helps and try to get any experience you have. All jobs provide a learning experience that can push you to the one you really want. Focus on your love of the arts and where you want to go, and that will push you pretty far. 

SPOTLIGHT: Jim Babcock

Jim Babcock: Adult Swim, VP Consumer Marketing

Atlanta, Georgia

WFU Class of 1991

Major: Politics

Minor: English

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Jim Babcock is the VP of Consumer Marketing at Adult Swim in Atlanta. You may have heard of shows like 'Rick and Morty' and 'Robot Chicken' - Jim oversees the marketing and branding surrounding these hits and more. We recently got his thoughts on the Wake undergrad experience and finding your way after leaving the Forest.


DeacLink: Tell us about what you do.

Jim Babcock: I am the VP of Consumer Marketing for Adult Swim, which is a TV network and part of Turner Broadcasting. I lead a team that handles all marketing and shows for our brand including social media, ads, promotions, and partnerships. We also do a lot smaller side projects, such as our direct consumer shop, web streaming shows, and podcast series. Anything that we can dream up that’ll stand out and get us attention, we do.

Additionally, I work on the ELEAGUE team, the eSports property that Turner helped start. We put on live eSports competitions, televise it, sell ads and do social media around these events to monetize them. As we move into a post-television world it’s something we want to experiment with; it’s sort of a startup within Turner.


DL: Very cool. Are you from Atlanta? How did you learn about Wake Forest?

JB: I grew up in Atlanta, so being here in the South you’re always familiar with Wake  Forest. I had a family friend who went there so that was my personal connection to the school. I went up to visit and fell in love.


DL: How much did your time at Wake influence or drive your career path?

JB: While the schoolwork was great, the most impactful experiences for me came from working on Wake Radio and the Old Gold and Black. I was always interested in media, conveying information and giving my opinion. These outlets were great for learning about that.

My chosen fields of study [Politics and English] were huge in terms of teaching me how to write and communicate. Having the ability to form, frame and articulate an argument was the most important thing I learned at Wake. Having a liberal arts education made me well rounded, and my extracurricular activities kept me curious and interested.

Saying that, I did have a rough patch at the very beginning in freshman year. I hadn’t been truly challenged in high school, so I arrived at Wake expecting to do the same sort of thing. I quickly realized you have to really do the work- show up to class, take notes, do the reading. After freshman year I developed discipline and learned that if you do what’s required of you, most likely you’ll be fine.


DL: Too true. What was your journey like coming out of graduation?

JB: When I graduated from Wake, the job market wasn’t great. I came home with little motivation despite my shiny degree. Eventually I got a free internship on a political campaign that combined my background in politics, PR and communication. It was my interests in media and politics rolled into one. Volunteering for nine months allowed me to get my foot in the door… which tends to happen when you work for free. I met a future mentor at this point who took me into another job in Atlanta as he transitioned to a new role after the campaign’s conclusion. I worked in the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce doing PR and communications helping to boost the city’s profile as it prepared to host the 1996 Olympics. I took journalists on tours of the city, wrote press releases and came up with marketing campaigns for Atlanta. I was able to meet a lot of people in the Atlanta community between volunteers, the Olympic organizers and corporate sponsors.

After this I worked for a couple PR firms in Atlanta for a few years, then happened upon a job with Cartoon Network doing PR. I joined Turner in ‘99 and have been here ever since- eighteen years now. Within Turner I’ve had jobs in public relations, trade marketing and, now, consumer marketing at Adult Swim. I’ve had some great mentors here who gave me the chance to try something new and find things I’m good at.


DL: Was there a particular thing you did to help you stand out across all these positions?

JB: You have to be scrappy and do the job you’re not getting paid for. If  you come in ready to impress people, to have good ideas and work hard, they’re more likely to take a chance on you. That’s what I tried to do and so far, so good, I guess!


DL: What project have you been most proud of thus far at Adult Swim?

JB: Launching the TV series ‘Rick and Morty’ was very fulfilling. We knew we had a great show, but we came up with a bunch of really fun and interesting ideas to get it in front of as many people as possible. We created a life-size UFO crash in the middle of NYC that turned into a viral phenomenon. We did some really innovative stuff on social media as well which got more people to try the show. It went from ‘here’s another dumb cartoon from Adult Swim’ to something being discussed in the New York Times, on Reddit, everywhere.


DL: The crash idea sounds epic. Whose idea was it?

JB: Like most things at AS, it was really collaborative. We had the marketing people, our creative team, all asking 'what will get MY attention?' The first scene of the first episode, Rick literally crashes the ship into the garage and Morty doesn’t know what’s going on. So we said, we gotta make a crash! In addition to the NYC crash, we also crashed into a billboard in LA.

The most interesting thing about things like this for me, are the nuts and bolts of executing the idea. Hiring the sculptor for it, working with an agency to get the right permits in each city, figuring out when and how you do it. We put up flyers around which read ‘Missing Spaceship’- aspects that added another layer. We try to avoid plastering our Adult Swim logo everywhere; the key is to have people walk past and not realize it’s an overt ad so they lean in and pay more attention. Resisting the temptation to over commercialize the experience keeps it curious and interesting. If you take a picture and send it to your friend, we have doubled or tripled the exposure in an instant.


DL: What show doesn’t get enough shine, or perhaps didn’t quite take off like you’d hoped?

JB: We get super weird with some shows.. There was one called ‘The Heart, She Holler’- a live action, gothic body-horror soap opera. It was created by the people behind 'Wonder Showzen' and starred Patton Oswalt. It was as bizarre as it was funny; like an art piece with bad puns.  I wanted that thing to become the new ‘Dynasty’... but it just didn’t. Somehow I sort of knew it wouldn’t fly, but it then remains your own special thing anyways.

There was another kids’ show called ‘Chowder’ which was super sweet and funny. It got lost amid a few transitions, which is too bad because it’s a really good show.


DL: Attention spans certainly are getting shorter-- is it hard to keep up with children and adult attention spans?

JB: Well, today’s five-year-old is 7 in two years and that’s a huge difference. Then they’re 9 in another couple years, and that’s a big difference. On top of that, today’s child has access to beyond what’s on TV at that exact moment. They can choose to watch ‘Hey Arnold’, Japanese anime or ‘Scooby Doo’-  at any time, anywhere and on any device. There’s even interactive shows whose story changes whenver you want. It’s hard to get kids’ attention. With adults we compete against video games, reruns of ‘Friends’ and Netflix. It’s tough to stand out and make people want to pay attention.


DL: What’s your trick to delivering constantly under the pressure of such a fast-paced environment?

JB: I always ask, ‘What’s the thing that’s going to get my attention? What’s weird, different, outrageous enough that when I’m driving down the street I’m going to stop and take a picture?’ If I haven’t seen it before, or nobody’s been courageous enough to try it, I go that direction.


DL: In that vein, what’s the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on to our readers?

JB: I see many young interns come and go in the office. You’d think some of them were being forced to dig ditches when actually they’re in one of the coolest offices around! I’m always hoping to see someone give that extra bit of effort to make me take notice. My advice is to show up early, work hard and always ask if there’s anything else you can do. Try working a little bit harder than anyone else and be genuine- it makes a big difference.

Spotlight Interview: Kristen Becker

Kristen Becker: Director of Museum Engagement, Marianne Boesky Gallery

New York City

WFU Class of 2000

Double Major: Anthropology & Archaeology

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Kristen Becker is a shining example of blazing your own career trail. Working for Marianne Boesky as Director of Museum Engagement, the New Jersey native explains her unique gallery role and the path she's taken to arrive there.


DeacLink: How did you end up in your current role? It looks like you’ve had some interesting positions in New York with a variety of organizations.

Kristen Becker: I had been working in the arts for 15 years before I developed my current role, which is called Director of Museum Engagement. My career had been going down a traditional path- I was a gallery assistant for 4 years, did some archive work, moved on to assistant director, and then became a director in 2009. I was doing sales and serving as an artist liaison and I really enjoyed working directly with artists. Over time though, I realized that my best day at work involved getting the work of gallery artists placed in museums and institutions around the world. While selling to a private collector felt great, there was something uniquely gratifying about knowing the piece in the museum would have its own legacy with the public and I wanted to focus on this as my next job.


DL: Director of Museum Engagement is quite the interesting title. Would you mind telling us about your role at Marianne Boesky Gallery. How have things changed since you came on board in 2014?

KB: I pitched the museum role idea to two different gallery owners who loved the concept but still wanted me to be a salesperson and work with artists. Unfortunately, I knew well that this partial structure meant I would be sidetracked by the day-to-day needs of artists and the larger goals of institutional placement would be secondary. When I approached Marianne Boesky with the job idea she understood its potential immediately. Before I started working for Marianne there was no one on her staff whose entire role focused on long-term strategy. There were some amazing salespeople and artist liaisons on the team, but no one dealt solely with museum relationships until I joined the team.

In the past three and a half years my job has gone through subtle changes and iterations because it is not a traditional gallery role. My boss and I have forged a great path together because she supports the unique perspective I give and we are figuring this role out together. We sit down together often to share ideas and brainstorm new opportunities, and if I am leaning too far in one direction she brings me back to where my efforts should be concentrated. Sometimes our overarching discussions can seem a bit abstract but I am lucky to work for a boss who thinks big and challenges me while still allowing me a lot of freedom to try something new. I look at big picture goals while fully respecting the needs of our roster of artists. I spend a small portion of my day connecting with collectors and artists but my main focus is on developing relationships with museum directors, curators, educators, etc to learn about their organization and see if a gallery artist would be a good addition to their collection. I find that many wonderful colleagues (particularly at smaller institutions) appreciate the proactive outreach because they may have a small travel budget or may not be as knowledgeable about the full range of artists we represent. My style is one of collegiality and building community and people seem to respond to that natural approach.

The job itself has changed a great deal in the past few years. Museums and galleries often position themselves as adversaries, when in reality they need each other to do the best work for the artists. The space between the non-profit and commercial worlds gets smaller every day, and I find that we are all starting to really appreciate the unique position we each occupy. My first 2 years in the role were spent explaining what a Director of Museum Engagement was, but now that the dialogue between us has been opened up I am spending more time in collaboration with my museum peers since we know we are all on the same team. While there are still very few galleries that employ someone with the same job title as mine, more and more people are beginning to see how necessary it is to actively cultivate these relationships.


DL: At Wake, you studied Anthropology and Archaeology. How much involvement did you have with the art program? And how did you make the transition to the art world?

KB: I pursued a minor in Art History while at Wake and art always played a role in my interest in archaeology. I wanted to know more about the reasons why utilitarian objects so often possessed some artistic element or flourish. There exists a fascinating human impetus toward self-expression and the creation of form alongside function. Arriving on campus in 1996, it was as a particularly interesting time in the anthropology community. While I had never set out towards an anthropology degree because of social anthropology, I am beyond grateful that this was part of the program for my major. I feel that an understanding of other cultures has helped me develop a level of empathy that I would not possess if my classes had been focused exclusively on archaeology and its practice. This empathy has certainly made me better at working with artists as well as curators, collectors, vendors, etc, but it has also shaped how I approach most relationships.

In my senior year I took an Art History course on Modern art and found myself connecting strongly to the material. I had always been a passionate student when the subject moved me, but this level of engagement surprised even me. By this point in the year I had already started looking at graduate schools, so I widened the search to include Museum Studies Master’s Degree programs that would allow to me to choose either archaeology or art history as a core departmental focus. I had worked at the Museum of Anthropology throughout undergrad and helped run the lab during a dig my junior year so at the very least I knew that I wanted to be around the objects themselves, I just wasn’t sure in which context.

I chose to attend George Washington University’s Museum Studies program. I felt that being around the Smithsonian museums and the National Mall would be the perfect environment to continue my studies, and DC’s consortium of schools meant I could take classes at George Mason, Georgetown, American, etc, which opened up a wide curriculum. That modern art course at Wake had a strong effect on me and I decided on art history as my focus. A fellow student in my exhibition design class was focused on contemporary art, and conversations with her about our classes made me realize that most contemporary art classes never seemed to get to the most recent artists and their work. We would always get stuck on an artist beloved by the professor, or time would run out somehow and the class “1945 to the present” would always somehow end in 1980. I pitched a commercial art gallery internship to my Museum Studies advisor who allowed this exception because I explained that this was the only way to take my art history in to the present. I interned for a year and a half for Laurie Adamson at David Adamson Gallery. She was an exceptional boss, and because our team was small I learned how to run a business from hanging the artwork to doing mailings to helping with client presentations. I had never heard of the gallery system before and this was a terrific crash course.


DL: How have you found the different jobs and internships you've had? Applications? Networking? A combination of both?

KB: After graduate school I still had a second internship to complete, and this time my advisor (understandably!) mandated that it be at a museum considering it was a Museum Studies program. I moved back to New Jersey and secured a role in New York City in the development office at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. This internship lasted for the summer but set many opportunities in motion. My colleague there knew that I was hoping to end up in the contemporary gallery world and she connected me to her then-boyfriend who owned a mid-century design shop in Chelsea. I worked for him and his business partner for 5 months while I sought out a gallery job. Not only did their aesthetic shape my understanding of design, but their willingness to provide me with a flexible work schedule meant I could do interviews and go see galleries without feeling guilty. Keep in mind, I was living at home with my parents at this time so I had a definite motivation to find something permanent!

This was 2002 and very few gallery owners were using email, so I walked through Chelsea door to door with a giant stack of letters in my purse. Each one was addressed to the individual gallery and its owner, and because it is a visual industry I created a little bit of branding material that included my business card. This business card listed my name, my contact information, and my degree. That was it! I still keep one of these business cards in my wallet as a reminder of those first days starting out and also my art world friends really get a kick out of seeing what is now a pretty dated record of my enthusiasm.

The director of Gorney Bravin + Lee responded positively to my moxie and was impressed that I was spending my Saturdays doing these personal resume deliveries (as opposed to just mailing them), so she spoke to one of the partners and I had an interview which then led to my first real gallery job in New York. I worked as a gallery assistant at GB+L for a little over two years, at which time the gallery closed. Because the closing was public, I started getting phone calls asking me what my next step would be. I had been a diligent gallery assistant and some people had taken notice, and this really helped me see myself as an asset. It really wasn’t until then that I realized how difficult it was for gallery owners to find competent, enthusiastic staff. Through these conversations and also through New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) postings, I landed a job at C+M Arts working for Robert Mnuchin doing archival research.

The jobs that followed came about through a combination of NYFA postings, professional connections, and word of mouth. In most cases the posting would be public but by the time I was 5 years in to my career in New York I usually knew someone connected to the hiring process and people will almost always prefer a recommendation over cold interviews. For someone early in their career, NYFA is still a fantastic resource.


DL:  The gallery space is an incredibly popular one for Wake alums. What advice do you have for readers interested in breaking into the field?

KB: Don’t give up! Know your limits! I worked at one gallery for such a short amount of time that it is not on my resume because I only stayed for two weeks. I responded to a New York Times job ad, this posting was one of the few that was actually for a gallery and I was beyond excited (most of the listings that included the word “art” were for dentist offices, as in “state of the art equipment”). The material was Latin American modern but I figured I was a quick study and I felt confident that I could do a great job once hired. The owner and I connected immediately, she was in her 70s and ran a bespoke space in a beautiful brownstone. It was a quiet but beautiful environment and I was eager to learn from her.

The day I arrived to start the job, I saw another woman in front of the gallery door. Turns out, the owner had hired both of us and thought perhaps she could use us in slightly different capacities…but in the end it felt more like a trial run. The owner fired the other woman on the second day, and each day I stayed I realized that her temperament was becoming progressively volatile. At the end of a typical work day we would chat about what had happened and what we would do the following day. One day I told her that someone asked us to authenticate a painting and was emailing us with images. She did not want to deal with this person and I assured her I would politely thank them for reaching out but that we were not able to assist. As our meeting progressed she grew increasingly agitated and kept coming back to the discussion about the email. I told her again I would handle it on her behalf and she responded by saying that she did not want the email at all, and she walked to my desk and turned off my computer…thinking that by turning off the machine we would not receive the message. This generational clash was minor but indicative of a larger issue I had already seen many times over in the few days I’d worked there. The next morning, we sat down and she said my job was now under supervision until she could trust me again. I responded by saying that perhaps this was a problem without a solution and that this should be my last day. We parted on decent terms and I left the gallery (in the middle of the day) totally devastated and walked to a pay phone to call my mom and tell her I was taking the bus home and I couldn’t hack it in a New York gallery.

I tell this story because it is such a short blip in my career but it is maybe the most important one. I wanted the job to work. I wanted my boss to see that I was smart and a hard worker. It just wasn’t the right fit. I could have easily taken that experience and let it dictate a decision to take a break or even leave the art world, and to be honest I’m not entirely sure what it was that allowed me to pick myself back up. I really hadn’t failed at anything important before and this was new and frightening territory. The support of my family, the time I spent working for a gallery in DC, the realization that I wanted to be in Chelsea where there was foot traffic and living artists---these facts all contributed to my ability to leave a toxic environment. After I got my job at GB+L I told the director there about my brief tenure uptown. She told me that every month the same New York Times posting is listed because the owner can never keep anyone in that job. I know 4 people who tried to work for that uptown gallery owner, and all stayed for less than a month. However, at the time I had no idea that she had a reputation for being so difficult. I thought I was the problem, and I am so glad I stuck with it. I’m so happy that I saw a problematic relationship and was able to leave before tying my self-worth to someone who needed constant drama.


DL: How do you like living in New York? What advice do you have for students trying to make a career in the city?

KB: I have lived here for 16 years and love New York! It is a wonderful place but it can be incredibly overwhelming because the options are limitless. There have been times in my life when I have briefly considered moving elsewhere, but London and Los Angeles don’t give me the same energy. Unfortunately, only a few cities have the level of gallery density that come close to NYC, and this pace has honestly always suited me well. I also grew up in New Jersey so this city has been “the City” for my entire life.

My advice: live with roommates, find friends who understand what it’s like to live here with little money. There are tons of things to do that don’t cost much but I know I was lucky because my friends were mostly poor too so I never really felt like I was missing out. Create your own community whether through other alumni, peers at your job, organizations or groups, etc. When I first started out I developed amazing relationships through the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA), and now I am on the steering committee for the Professional Organization for Women in the Arts (POWarts) which tries to develop programming and tools for art professionals at different career stages. New York is feasible and wonderful if you find your own strategies to work with it not against it. I often compare it to a wave, some days you’re riding with the wave and sometimes you are fighting it but honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way.


DL: What do you think Wake arts could do to better prepare students for life after graduation?

KB: My path after college was not necessarily the one I had planned. I thought I would maybe end up with a PhD in Archaeology, so I am sure there are many resources the art department provides that didn’t happen to reach me. I think Wake’s reputation as a business school usually precedes all others, and when I graduated tales of the school’s academic rigor were still spreading to the Northeast. I was there during the era of Tim Duncan so our sports record was really the most popular topic. I conditioned myself to always say “Wake Forest, in North Carolina” and for the last 10 years or so that mention of the state has been really unnecessary. Our school is small but is well known and I am so proud of that association. The Student Union Art Acquisition Trip has certainly done wonders for the school’s reputation amongst gallerists. I have lots of friends and colleagues who have met with this group over the years, and they love telling me how focused and knowledgeable the students are as they assess their acquisition options. I think that one thing that might be beneficial to students would be to have past alumni working in the arts come to campus to talk about their career arc. The more you know about your job options and what exists out there the better prepared you are to find something that suits you and your skill set and interests. This network exists but the ties can certainly be stronger.


DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on to current students and recent alums?

KB: I spend a lot of time discussing the same two topics with recent graduates, and I talk about them at the same time because they seem opposite but are actually inextricably linked. The first conversation is about knowing your worth, advocating for what you deserve, and not staying in an environment that makes you uncomfortable. The second conversation is about working hard, accepting that no one owes you anything, realizing that your work should speak for itself, and expecting that being at a front desk reception position for over two years is totally normal. It is no one’s job to promote you for doing what you were hired to do, and if you know in advance that the art world is not lucrative in those first years you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration. The art world is a series of small businesses and each gallery owner follows his/her own rules for success. When you are applying for a gallery job you should of course look at the role and the gallery program, but also look at the corporate culture. I once turned down a job offer at one of the most famous galleries partly because I saw that all the women who worked there wore very high-end clothes I could never afford. I knew that I would do a great job in the role but I also knew that I wanted to be myself and feel proud of my background and what I had worked toward up to that point. I didn’t want to be embarrassed of my clothes or my lifestyle, and I got the sense that I would feel judged every time I walked in to work. There were other reasons I didn’t accept the job, but this realization definitely set the tone for the types of environments I’ve chosen to work in over the past 10 years. Ask yourself these questions when considering a gallery- Will you be comfortable with their level of professionalism? Are there peers at the gallery or will you be the only person your age and level of experience? Are there opportunities for mentorship if you stay there for more than a few years? Of course, when you are applying sometimes you Just. Need. A. Job. But if it’s possible to look a little longer term try and do that too, it will help you assess your next steps while still keeping your expectations realistic. And don’t hesitate to reach out to people with more experience, they are usually happy to tell you how they made their way.

Spotlight Interview: Zanny Dow & Brooke Einbender of Higher Art Galleries

Zanny Dow & Brooke Einbender: Co-Founders, Higher Art Galleries

New York City

WFU Class of 2017

Zanny: Studio Art Major, Entrepreneurship Minor

Brooke: Studio Art Major, Spanish & Entrepreneurship Minor


Zanny Dow and Brooke Einbender are an ambitious pair whose bond was forged in the Scales painting studio. Together they've co-founded Higher Art Galleries, an online platform making the sale of student art more accessible. We spoke with the duo about their time at Wake and what’s next. We’ve certainly noted the massive potential to expand the existing relationship with OPCD in arts-related industries- the possibilities are endless!


DeacLink: What did you both study at Wake? How did you choose your majors?

Brooke Einbender

I was awarded the presidential scholarship for visual arts at Wake Forest. As a freshman on campus,  the scholarship gave me the confidence to pursue art seriously from the very start. I thought I only wanted to minor in art, but I soon realized that was not enough. My minor blossomed into a major, the art department faculty felt like family to me, and the painting studio was my home away from home on campus. I am so glad that I made the “brave” decision to study Studio Art with a concentration in oil painting.

In my four years, I was fortunate enough to participate in several uniquely Wake Forest art opportunities. I took a semester long class focusing on contemporary art and ended the course at the Venice Biennale, while staying at Wake Forest’s Casa Artom. Additionally, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in the Student Union Art Acquisition Committee. This experience in particular actually led to my current job working for a private art advisor/consultant.


Zanny Dow

My immersion into the Art Department wasn’t as immediate as Brooke’s. I came to Wake Forest as a Presidential Scholar for Music with a concentration in Harp studies. I had  every intention of  majoring in Chemistry and following the Pre-Medicine track. Art was barely on my radar and the thought of studying it seemed absurd; I hadn’t taken an art class since middle school and had no idea what I would do with a degree in art anyway. Amidst the stress of organic chemistry, I signed up for a digital art class with the idea that it would be a creative outlet for my overworked mind. This class forced me to think in ways I had never before. In doing so, I realized the value of creative thinking and it completely altered the trajectory of my Wake Forest education.

It wasn’t until second semester of my sophomore year that I had the guts to let go of my childhood dream of becoming a doctor to pursue the arts-- this was one of the most terrifying, yet rewarding things I have done. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a completely random decision, I have always loved drawing, painting and crafting, I just never saw it as a potential career.  After taking that class, amongst others, it no longer mattered to me if there was a distinct path. What mattered was that I was happy.


ZD & BE:  We both majored in Studio Art with concentrations in Oil Painting and minored in Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise. With all of our friends pulling all-nighters in the library, we would be in the painting studio until 3am, mixing paint, building canvases, and blasting good tunes. This is the type of education we chose!

As for entrepreneurship,  both of us always had creative side-hustles growing up. Our decisions to apply to the Entrepreneurship minor was the best decision either of us made while in school. Wake Forest’s Entrepreneurship program is absolutely amazing and we are so excited to see how it develops in the coming years! As seniors, we took full advantage of the unique opportunities and incredible resources the entrepreneurship department had to offer. Brooke applied to the first-ever Deacon Springboard program which provides seed money, access to mentors, and creates a community of passionate student entrepreneurs. She pitched the idea of a student art rental business and was selected to participate in Deacon Springboard’s culminating event DeacTank, a shark tank style event. Zanny joined up just in time to participate in the program. After spending just a few short weeks developing our idea, we pitched “Art Rentals for Students by Students” to the first-ever panel for Wake Startup Lab. We were selected, along with several other teams, to participate in the accelerator program in which “Art Rentals for Students by Students” evolved into the company that we have today called Higher Art Galleries. This class was the most rewarding and life altering class we ever took at Wake Forest and we would not be where we are now without the support of our mentors, Dan Cohen, Greg Pool, the other teams in Startup Lab, among others.


DL: How did you two meet?

ZD: Wake Forest is small and Brooke was just one of those people that everyone knew or knew of-- she had the reputation for being friendly, outgoing and always covered in paint. Before meeting Brooke my Senior year, I knew who she was. The art department raved about her and my classmates were excited for her to join Advanced Painting. Brooke and I quickly bonded over our mutual love of painting and entrepreneurship. Completely coincidentally, we had the majority of our shared Major/ Minor classes together. After many late nights together in the studio, blasting music, suffering through painters' block and talking about our Entrepreneurship projects, Brooke asked me if I would be interested in starting a business with her. I jumped at the opportunity and we have been friends/ business partners since.


DL: What inspired you to start Higher Art Galleries?

BE: Sophomore  year I was looking for an internship, and through a friend of my sister’s, I interned at Turning Art, which is an online platform that creates prints of artists works, installs these works, and creates subscriptions with businesses. You can buy originals, but they are mainly a printing source to decorate offices. While there, I was able to see different types of art and the printing processes. I didn't think anything of the internship, but it was a good first experience. Shortly after, I realized that I didn't really know on campus what other artists were creating. The artistic process is very private, intimate. Studios are key card access only. There is not a dialogue going throughout different classes. Even non-art majors are doing really cool things in their spare time, and there was not a way to celebrate or view what people were doing on a singular platform. Zanny and I took entrepreneurship minor classes and we had this professor, Dan Cohen, who really just changed our lives. He just gave us so much knowledge about startups and how to create them. His course was a crash course in entrepreneurship and how to work your way up and build your own business. Each student had to create a business idea, pitch to the class, and then class votes. I pitched my art rental idea, but I didn’t win. But afterwards, Cohen pulled me aside and told me to try and pitch to Deacon Springboard. I was so nervous.  I walked into the OPCD and gave my one minute elevator pitch, and I got into Deacon Springboard. This all began from the need for something to celebrate art on campus, what others are doing, read about their work and their artist statement, and put a student face to artwork.

ZD: Next Brooke and I merged together. We had painting and entrepreneurship classes together, but we were in different sections. We would talk about a lot senior year. Brooke was saying to me, “I have this idea…” It originally started as art rentals for students by students, but it was very similar to  the Turning Art method of prints. One day she asked me to join, and we wound up developing our business model before pitching again to another panel, Wake startup lab. Dan Cohen had just started it with another professor.

Wake Startup Lab is a new big thing, and there were a bunch of teams pitching. We figured just do it. What did we have to lose? Our pitch was so messy and cobbled together at the last minute. It was pretty awful in hindsight, but we wound up getting a slot. It is the best experience I’ve had at Wake. Made Wake what it was.

BE: The 1-on-1 attention was amazing. They invest in your ideas and your talent. They also provided us with funding and access to mentors. They brought in guest speakers every week with such an incredibly, well-seasoned experience set in business. They also brought in lawyers. The program made an educational experience real life. It didn't feel like a class. We created something real that turned into what it is today. The program was a great stepping stone. Dan came from Cornell and created the program there, and he has been super successful in bringing it to Wake. He’s part of the revamping of the entrepreneurship department.

They even paired us with a law school student that acted as our lawyer. The free legal advice was great. She helped us create contracts with artist and establish an LLC. Any questions she had were run by the head of the law school. We also had two mentors who acted as advisers that were parents of students. One worked in nonprofits and one was the CEO of a marketing company. That connection showed us that Wake was not only willing to help students, but parents connected to Wake are really willing to give back through mentorship, advice, and coming to speak. It’s such a great community. I’m not sure other schools are like this.


DL: I was also an entrepreneurship minor (it was just beginning to take off when I was an undergrad). From the outside looking in, it seems to be an increasingly popular minor for students that put the “art” in liberal arts. What do you think is the catalyst for this?

BE: There is a big difference between the business major and the entrepreneurship minor. I thought I wanted to enroll in business school. I didn't get in, so I decided to minor in entrepreneurship, and I am so happy I did that instead. Entrepreneurship encapsulates all kinds of people and bring them together under one roof. There is a lot of merging of different ideas from different backgrounds. It gives you enough business and real life knowledge and a foundation that will allow you to align passion with major, which for us is art and business.

ZD: The entrepreneurship minor is one of the most practical minors at Wake.  They are teaching you actual usable skills to move forward with a business. Often I felt that you were learning information  in classes that was important but not practical. Entrepreneurship is hands on and practical. You can actually use things like a cash flow spreadsheet. The minor and the department give students with different majors a way to move forward with their careers. It adds practicality to their major. It’s amazing.


DL: How many artists are you representing right now, and how have you been adding new artists to your stable?

BE: We have 15 artists. It’s hard because right now we are not on campus. We have 2-3 interns and they act as our student liaisons. They also create content around Wake and Winston-Salem art events. They help us access new artists. For Zanny and I, the larger plan is to expand to other universities. We want to become the destination to see student art and emerging talent nationwide. We just sent an email to five North Carolina Universities' Art Department heads. We are scheduling info interviews to pick their brains about student and art department needs. We want feedback on Higher Art Galleries to see what else people need with this platform. We are still in the building process. Other school’s departments have much better access to students than us to see how we can bring on more artists.

ZD: We are hoping that they say, 'We support this'. We know Wake and all its facets, and have gotten great feedback from them, but part of that could be biased since we know everyone. There are a few people that are a few degrees of separation that are involved, but most are friends. Right now we are at a point where we need to test to see if this is the case with people that don’t know us. That’s where we're at right now.

We had an exciting conversation with the new head of art department at Wake, Dr. Bernadine Barnes. She reached out to one of our interns to learn more about Higher Art Galleries and loved the idea.

At Higher Art Galleries, we are commissioning our artists to create Wake Forest-inspired artwork. This serves as a visual way to show where the artist is coming from and their art education. We hope wake Forest inspired commissions will help parents, alumni, students and faculty realize the talent on campus. If the viewer doesn’t understand abstract or conceptual art, this is a piece that helps them understand the talent that exists. We hope to expand to other universities and to have students create work about their university

Our next two places to expand to are North Carolina, near Wake and with similar demographic, and then we are also planning at looking into some New York universities. We just launched on November 15th [2017] so we're still super fresh, in the testing stage. We will iterate as time goes on.  


DL: I know this is a national project, but what do you think will be the long term impact on the Wake Arts community?

ZD: Our ultimate goal is to create and foster an art community on campus, one that is bringing the arts outside of the studio. We want to create a place for people to explore the arts and what is happening on campus.

BE: These interns that reached out to us understood that there's a lack of a visible, vocal art scene on campus compared to something like WFU style. There is a community for that and a network, system, building blog, Instagram, and events. Our interns are really bringing to light what is going on on campus art wise and broadly in Winston. They’ve written about some of the sculptures on campus - explaining what, who, and why. They’ve been featuring students having shows at START gallery, the buying trip exhibition, people’s final projects in public art class. They are bringing to light what is going on in the arts, and that will impact department as a whole. The department’s website is not up and coming. I was talking to Zanny, and she didnt feel at home until the end of her time in the department… 

ZD: Brooke and I had very different experiences. Brooke was a Presidential Scholar so she went right in, but for me it wasn't so immediate. It wasn’t on my radar at all. It was also hard to get into classes. I couldn't get in until I was a sophomore. Junior year got involved in painting and it clicked then. Once you are in, it’s gold, but it’s not so immediate. It would be helped if there was a way to talk about art and involve people at Wake that aren't art majors. People that just enjoy it, but don't study it. Neither of our interns are studio art majors or minors, but they are interested in the arts. That’s exciting for us, and it validated our idea by showing there was a broad interest.

DL: Are you focusing on the blog full time? Or are you working in NYC as well? If so, what are your day jobs? And how did you land those roles?

ZD & BE: No, we actually have two amazing WFU interns that reached out to us wanting to get involved in supporting Higher Art’s missions; they run our blog! Our interns, Maggie and Abby, are sophomores who produce art related content specific to Wake Forest and Winston-Salem. Now that we are in  New York, Abby and Maggie are our connection to Wake and keep us up to date with the WFU art community.  While they focus on creating content, we spend early mornings, late evenings and weekends continually developing our business model and online platform. One thing that we have learned from working in the Entrepreneurship department at Wake is that startups are an ever-evolving process. As for our “day jobs,” Zanny co-manages a wine bar in Union Square and Brooke is an assistant to a private art advisor and art dealer. Although this is what pays the rent at the moment, we are counting down the days to focusing our full energy on Higher Art Galleries.


DL: What do you think Wake arts could do to better prepare students for life after graduation?

ZD & BE: The thing is, pursuing a career in the arts is often not as straightforward as other career paths like business or science. As a result, it is challenging to have a set protocol to prepare students for entering the “art world” post graduation. The art department does a good job bringing alumni and guests to campus to speak about their art related careers, which is one step to alleviating the negative stigma associated with studying and pursuing a profession in art. That being said, there is still a lot more that Wake Forest OPCD and Art Department could be doing to support their art students. One thing that we LOVE about DeacLink is that it creates a singular platform to learn about the Wake Forest Art Alumni network. This is a resource that would be invaluable to Wake Art students and something that OPCD could use as a tool to further help support the students looking for careers in the arts. Additionally, we would have loved to have a course available to teach us how to pursue a career in the arts. It would have been helpful to learn how to apply for art grants, research for grad schools, build an art website, photograph your artwork etc.. The “art world” is such a broad term that encompasses infinite job opportunities. Art Students need help demystifying the art world by learning about the different types of art jobs.

DL: The commercial sales/gallery route is a popular career option for art alums. What advice do you have for readers interested in breaking into the field?

ZD & BE: Our advice for recent art grads who are interested in commercial sales/ galleries is to do informational interviews. Reach out to older alumni, recent grads, and family friends who work in similar fields that interest you and then pick their brain. This is also a great way to create a professional relationship with people who can potentially help you get a job in the future. Contact these people early on so that you can reach out to them once again when you are job hunting. Especially in the art world, it helps to have a contact who can help you get a foot in the door.


DL: How do you like living in NYC? What advice do you have for students considering pursuing a career in the city?

BE: I was not planning to come to New York. It wasn’t for me. Zanny is from Garrison NY, and loves New York so much. She said I had to move. I said it was “too high key, there was no nature,” but she said I had to come, so I took the leap. For the sake of Higher Art, it will be better for us to be in the same vicinity. I love it. It’s so expensive. I am living with my grandma, so I am not paying rent which is a blessing. There is so much going on, so much culture, so many art events. It is so inspiring and energizing. We went to this WeWork event. We had applied for this grant as they were giving away $20M to fund ideas around the world. We didn’t get the money but went to the award ceremony, and it was awesome. There were thousands of young people, who were all passionate about ideas. We sat through the awards ceremony. It was at a warehouse with a DJ, open bar, free food.

ZD: The WeWork event was a really cool experience. I don't think you get that in other places. So exciting to go there with thousands of other people our age. It was cool to have the community for a moment.

As Brooke said, I am NY’s number one fan at Wake. When we were figuring out our plan, I talked her into coming to New York. I grew up outside the city and went to school right outside the city. Living here has been so amazing. It’s just so much culture, and there’s always something to do. It’s a lot fun and really inspiring. Everyone is working really hard, there’s somewhere they’re going, something they’re going to do. The energy is inspiration to keep working harder. It is hard to be motivated to do double work, but we are passionate, so it doesn't feel like work often, but it’s time consuming. It’s good to be in a place that inspires us. In terms of advice, save money before you come.

BE: A lot of friends of ours came here not knowing their exact route since they knew they wanted to be here. I wasn’t going to move here unless I had a job in hand. When I came, I did. I think that informational interviews and doing a lot of backend work before actually coming here was crucial. You need to set up appointments to meet with people fact to face.  That is really important for getting your foot in the door anywhere in New York. Here,  sending resumes and waiting passively doesn’t work. You have to take action. Zanny went through a job recruiter.

ZD: I think taking action is so important. People are worried about badgering future employers, but in New York, that’s the way. Send follow up emails, call them. In NY, it’s one of those places where every man is for themselves. When it comes to jobs, it’s a matter of getting your foot in the door. You need to decide what you want to do and go for it. You can’t be passive in this city.


DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on to current students and recent alums?

ZD & BE: Take risks, listen to your gut, and do things that align with your passion. Wake Forest is generally a risk averse community in which people tend to follow careers with concrete futures. This is all well and good but for those of us who weren’t placed on this earth to be Doctors or Accountants, it can be overwhelming. The things that excite you are connected to your purpose, so have the courage to follow them. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring the things you are drawn to just because the don’t follow a set path. It’s not necessarily your job to know where you are going, it’s your job to take action on the things that pique your curiosity and the rest will follow!


Spotlight Interview: Claire Altizer

Claire Altizer: Registrar & Exhibitions Manager, Dedalus Foundation

New York City

WFU Class of 2009

Major: Studio Art

Minor: Art History


Claire Altizer is a North Carolina native currently based in NYC at the Dedalus Foundation. Claire shares her journey with us, from a Scales studio major to helping lead Motherwell's legacy institution.

DeacLink: What did you study at Wake? How has your career unfolded since?

Claire Altizer: I was originally a Studio Art major but after taking the required Art History course I realized I was more interested in talking and thinking about art rather than creating it. So, after Wake, I moved to New York to get my Masters in Museum Studies at NYU. The summer after I finished grad school I landed a job as the Office Manager / Assistant Registrar at the Dedalus Foundation, and I’ve been lucky that the Foundation has allowed me to grow and expand my position over the past 6 years, and I’m now the Registrar and Exhibitions Manager there. I also do freelance registration for artists on the side.


DL: Tell me a bit more about Grad school at NYU. What’s the Museum Studies concentration like? How does school overall compare to Wake?

CA: I’ve always thought the Museum Studies degree was more hands-on than say, an Art History degree. I really debated whether or not it made sense to pursue art history, but I saw myself more on the admin side of things rather than going down the curatorial route. What I really like about the NYU program is that it allows you to focus in what you’re interested in and it’s really interdisciplinary. I was interested in collections management and art institutions, so I took art history classes at the IFA and hands-on courses like exhibition management and conservation.

That said, I graduated from Wake right at the beginning of the recession and was having a hard time finding any job opportunities and decided that grad school made the most sense. Although I don’t regret it, it was VERY expensive, and I always remind people to weigh their options before getting a Museum Studies degree since you’re presumably going into the non-profit world which doesn’t always pay well.

Wake has such a vigorous academic focus, that it really made grad school a breeze! To complete the Museum Studies degree in the suggested 2-year time frame, I only had to take 2 or 3 classes a semester so the work load seemed way less intense than a full course load in undergrad. Also with Wake’s liberal arts degree under my belt, I felt fully prepared for writing my Masters thesis.


DL: The Dedalus Foundation is a fascinating entity. Would you explain its purpose and origins to the readers? What is your role there?

CA: The Dedalus Foundation was founded in 1981 by the Abstract Expressionist painter Robert Motherwell with the mission to further the public understanding of Modernism in the arts, while also supporting Motherwell’s artistic legacy. We fulfill these objectives through grants, public programming, research initiatives, and the publication of catalogues raisonné of Motherwell’s works. As Registrar and Exhibitions Manager, I care for the Foundation’s substantial collection of Motherwell artworks and also curate and execute exhibitions drawing from our inventory. Working at a small Foundation has been a great opportunity to work on different projects and not get pigeonholed into one role.


DL: How much did your time at Wake inform your career path vs graduate school at NYU?

CA: I was lucky enough to participate in the Art Buying trip which was my first real entry into the art world. The trip was an amazing experience and kind of a crash course in the inner workings of the art market. During and after that trip I realized I wouldn’t want to work on the gallery side, but I loved doing the studio visits and meeting artists. Overall the whole experience made me consider the behind-the-scenes jobs that keep the art world running. It also pushed my interest in going the non-profit route, whereas before I really saw myself working in a commercial gallery.

I also feel grateful that my work-study was at the Hanes Art Gallery under Paul Bright who showed me that curating an exhibition is only a part of running a gallery and that there are a lot of other important skills that are needed to execute a successful exhibition.


DL:  How have you found the different jobs and internships you've had? Applications? Networking? A combination of both?

CA: NYU has a great network in New York, so it definitely doesn’t hurt being on their job mailing list. I’ve mostly found my internships and jobs on the New York Foundation for the Arts website. It’s a really great resource since most art-related jobs in New York will post there. The downside is that the jobs end up being very competitive since so many people are using the site. I’ve never been great at networking, but Dedalus has introduced me to so many people, and it was those connections that got me my freelance jobs with artists.


DL: Often times as undergraduates, students are pushed into academia or into the curatorial track at a museum. What advice do you have for readers interested in taking a different route?

CA: I think it’s so unfortunate that people don’t talk about the admin side of the art world because there are so many jobs out there that people don’t hear about and don’t know what steps to take to get there. The jobs are also less competitive than say a curatorial position at a museum, because there are more admin roles that need to be filled. The nice thing about having a Museum Studies degree is that you can come out of it and be qualified for a variety of different jobs: collections management, registration, development, research, event planning, etc. I also would suggest to people thinking about academia or curation to consider an MS in Library Science. In the art foundation world Archivists are really important for research and their roles have a lot of overlap with curators. Mainly I think you end up with more marketable skills not doing an art history-focused career path. It’s been great doing registration and exhibitions management because I still have opportunities to curate and do research, but I’ve also never had a problem finding a job since I’m not singularly focused in one area.


DL: How do you like living in New York? What advice do you have for students considering pursuing a career in the city?

CA: I’m from Davidson, North Carolina, a really small southern town and I was terrified to move to New York, and even asked my grad advisor if there was a way I could finish early so I didn’t have to stay here for 2 years. Now, 8 years later, it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else. I didn’t realize that New Yorkers never go to Times Square or regularly walk down Canal street just for fun. I’m living and working in Brooklyn and it’s got such a great laid-back vibe, but I still always feel like I’m in a cultural center.

I always feel like I had an easy start since I moved here for grad school so I had an automatic friend group and life schedule in place. If you’re not coming for grad school and you don’t know anyone, I’m not going to lie, it can be pretty tough making it here. I think it’s way easier finding jobs if you live in the city, so it might be worthwhile to move here first. New York can definitely be intimidating, but one of the many reasons I love it is that it’s so easy to make random connections with people and no matter how weird your interests are, there’s already some group of people who share that same weird interest too.


DL: What do you think Wake arts could do to better prepare students for life after graduation?

CA: I think you’re right that art history undergraduates tend to feel pushed into academia or curation. I think it’d be great to be better informed about all the other jobs that are out there in the arts like administrative positions in museums, the arts foundation world that I fell into, archives, conservation, and I could name so many more that I didn’t really know about before leaving Wake. If you’re not doing any of the arts administration classes, it can be easy to get swamped in art history and feel like your only career prospects are being a professor or a curator.


DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on to current students and recent alums?

CA: I think there’s a strong feeling for art history students that the next step is grad school, but I would suggest taking some time and working in the art world a bit before deciding what kind of grad program you might want to go into so you don’t have any regrets.

Spotlight Interview: Mike Baireuther

Mike Baireuther: Supervising Producer, Discovery Communications

Washington, DC

WFU Class of 2008

Major: History

Double Minor: Entrepreneurship & Journalism


Mike Baireuther came into his own as a Lilting Banshee during undergrad at the Forest. He recently shared on his path since Wake, from Turner's T3 program in Atlanta to his current role in DC at Discovery.


DeacLink: Tell us about your current job and what it entails.

Mike Baireuther: I work at Discovery Communications, which owns Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, and the Science Channel. We’re about to acquire Scripps which includes HGTV and the Cooking Channel. I’m a supervising producer in the branded entertainment team, which means I make commercials for the companies that sponsors the network’s shows. For instance, when Volkswagen sponsors Shark Week, I make commercials for that.


DL: That’s a pretty cool job. How did you arrive here since Wake?

MB: Definitely with a little luck. I applied for the T3 program at Turner which is based in Atlanta. They’ve got Cartoon Network, CNN, TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies. They had a bunch of positions available when I applied, so I went for about 20-30. I had to do a project for each one; I was desperate because the economy collapsed as I graduated.

I started at Cartoon Network and spent a year there. At the end they let all 25 of us T3’s go. They laid off 20 full time employees, too. I transitioned to an unpaid internship from this, doing marketing and strategy but desperate to do more creative work.

I ingratiated myself (whether they wanted me to or not) with the promotions team and spent six months with them. When a job opened at TNT, I got my foot in the door there through a recommendation. I spent three years at TNT’s with their on-air promotions team, making commercials for shows like Law & Order. I was doing a web show for their online outlet too, making jokes about internet videos. I also pitched in with a kid’s show on Cartoon Network which broke down the Thursday night NBA game for kids in video game format.

After these years my wife got a job in Philadelphia and the closest I could move was DC. I got referred to a job at Discovery as a copywriter. With my background in TV I was eager to go into video production. They brought me into a supervising producer role after about two years of copywriting.


DL: What’s been your favorite project so far?

MB: There’s been quite a few standouts! The first big job I concepted and brought to fruition for Discovery was a shoot with Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry in Atlanta. I got to meet and work with Oprah which was pretty special. Working on those spots was really validating and enjoyable.

My two big yearly projects are Shark Week and Puppy Bowl. I’ve gotten to visit some interesting places and meet smart, passionate people who really care about the science involved with Shark Week. Puppy Bowl allowed me to meet lots of people in animal welfare, who dedicate their lives to helping stray animals. It’s one thing to shoot with celebrities, but another to work with people changing the world in their own way. That’s always inspiring.

As someone who majored in history and focused on East Asian history, my job shockingly led to fulfilling a lifelong dream shooting a VR experience in Japan. I never thought I’d get an amazing opportunity like that through work. The final product was really strong as a 360 video as well, so I was proud of that.

Pretty soon I’ll be travelling to Asia again as part of a program set up through Eurosport, a sport network in Europe which Discovery owns. Eurosport have acquired rights to the Olympics for the next decade, so they’ve begun a program where us non-Eurosport employees can help out with the grunt work at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February. It’s a great opportunity to pitch in with the event and learn about what we’ll be representing. I’ll be behind the scenes documenting how the crews document the games.


DL: How did your undergrad experience at Wake inform or drive your career decisions?

MB: I often joke with people that I graduated from the Lilting Banshees, not Wake Forest. Being part of the troupe fundamentally changed my life. I hadn’t been involved in anything theater or creative before college… I actually auditioned because someone on my hall was planning to. He chickened out but I still went; I threw myself into the troupe once I realized I was actually good at it.

I was passionate about what I studied as well. History strengthened my writing and forced me to organize my thoughts better. Journalism added to this as well. The journalism program at Wake isn’t as renowned as others in the country, but the professors were dedicated to being hard on the students’ writing. With my current job I get to write some fun creative stuff, but the bulk of it is institutional writing aimed at explaining what we could do for a client.

So yeah, Banshees definitely changed my trajectory in terms of who I thought I was and what I wanted to do professionally. Ultimately, my extracurriculars were more influential for me getting started in my career as well. I tapped into the Banshee network asking former troupe members about their experiences, getting advice and so forth.


DL: Did you tap into resources on campus like OPCD as well?

MB: I did and I didn’t. That’s to say, so much of the career center is oriented towards the Calloway School and people looking for entrance to med and law school. Which is absolutely great, but it’s much harder for a school like Wake that doesn’t have a stronger creative arts presence to connect you with those fields. I did however do a test interview with OPCD once, which was great because I discovered my weak points while interviewing. I had this tick where I kept insisting about eight times that I was a hard worker… I was explaining myself a lot. The OPCD did get me an interview with an environmental non profit in Raleigh. It was nice and mission oriented but I of course ended up running away to Atlanta.

Once out in my field, I found that having a few fellow Wake alums in my immediate area was really beneficial. When the sky was calling at Cartoon Network, someone in my adjacent department who was also a WFU grad became my friend. He was incredible as a mentor and encouraged me to press on with my work despite all of the layoffs that were happening.

On a similar note, I reached out to another Atlanta based Wake alum called Dave Willis, on more of a dream-come-true level. I was desperate to work on projects like what he’d created in Aqua Teen Hunger Force, so I sent a rather pathetic email saying I was from Wake too and on my way out with the T3’s but looking to pick his brain. He was a lovely guy and incredibly generous with his time, and let me hang out with him for a week. He let me join him in the studio for a voice recording session, which was pretty cool. It didn’t materialize into a job or anything, but it was encouraging to have someone on his level that was willing to sit down, talk and take an interest in me. Both of these relationships were really influential for me, and we keep in touch to this day.


DL: What does it take to stand out in your line of work, to get your foot in the door?

MB: There’s a lot of chance and luck involved. In general that’s with any job, really. But one thing I’ve benefited from a lot is doing extra side projects. The Olympics thing is a good example, because it was an open application process that anyone could submit for. Even my job at Discovery came from doing the web show for TBS, because a colleague ended up referring me to this position here. The basketball kid’s show allowed me to distinguish myself creatively, and all it took was staying up late once a week to watch the game and explain it to young audiences.

Balancing multiple projects at once can be tiring, but especially while you’re young try to do things outside the confines of an expected path. Going above and beyond pays a lot of dividends in the long run. You learn how to be more bootstrappy and figure things out on your own from these pursuits.


DL: What is it like living and working in DC?

MB: I’m not from here, but I love this town. It’s pretty expensive which is a bummer. But it’s a mecca for nerds, and there’s a lot of smart people who are very passionate about what they do. The city is small but has tons of arts and culture, as the nation’s capital of course. There’s lots of Wake people here as well which a bonus.


DL: What is your mantra, or best piece of advice you can think to pass on?

MB: Work hard, be nice, and keep in touch. If you can do those things consistently, you’re probably gonna be okay. I think a lot of people like to say that entertainment or creative work is about who you know, but it’s also about who you trust. When you find people you enjoy working with, in whatever capacity, it’s good to keep in touch with them and remind them of that. That sort of stuff really does come around.


Spotlight Interview: Ryan Coons

Ryan Coons: Associate Creative Director, Struck

Portland, Oregon

WFU Class of 2008

Major: Economics


Ryan Coons is a former Lilting Banshee and currently creative director at Struck in Portland. He recently ran us through his journey from aimless job fair wanderer to ad agency creative lead. And yes, we agree his child is adorable. 

DeacLink: Tells us about your current job and what it entails.

Ryan Coons: I am the associate creative director for an ad agency in Portland called Struck. I oversee the creative output for a few of our clients, from design to copywriting and advertising. I shepherd anything art and copy through the process going from idea to execution.

I completed a certificate program at the Portfolio Center in Atlanta, where I started as a designer. Of the seven people in my class I was an okay designer, but everyone was coming to me asking for writing on their pieces. I spent a few months fighting this but I realized I was a way better writer than designer. I made the switch midway through the school and wrote ever since.

Before this I had worked for agencies in Atlanta with clients like Baskin Robbins and Delta Airlines. Here at Struck I oversee output for smaller brands like Uinta Brewing, a Salt Lake City brewery and TriMet (Portland’s public transportation system).


DL: Did you spend your years at Wake preparing for a career in advertising?

RC: I was actually an Econ major… I didn’t go through the Scales art program. I graduated at the height of the recession with a gentleman’s 2.5 GPA and knew I wasn’t going to find a whole lot of work in that market. My path to a more creative industry is actually an interesting story.

Graduation was just two months away and I had no clue what I wanted to do. I went to this job fair and was wandering the aisles aimlessly when I spotted a Gary Baseman illustration (known for the Cranium board games) on this bank’s stand backdrop. I tried to talk to the guy manning the booth about the artwork but he had no idea what I was saying. His only response was, ‘So…. do you wanna work at this bank?’

Across from him was a booth for the Portfolio Center in Atlanta. She got my attention over knowing about Baseman’s work and told me all about their design program. I knew then and there it was meant for me. In a single day I went from not knowing what I wanted to do, to knowing exactly what I wanted to do.


DL: Did your time at the Portfolio Center set you up for your first job in advertising?

RC: Yes, exactly. I got my first position about three months before I was supposed to graduate. Because of this I technically didn’t finish the course! My reasoning was, the whole point of this school is to get me a job… I have a job… I’m outta here.


DL: What’s the hardest part about breaking into your industry?

RC: Breaking into advertising isn’t nearly as difficult as having a long happy career in it. There’s lots of internship opportunities in this field, although the majority aren’t paid. If you can get that one person to take interest in you, then bother them ‘til they throw a piece of work your way; now you’ve got your foot in the door.

We take new people fresh out of school, and look for potential and passion. We don’t care about your GPA; if you can approach a client’s problem in a unique way, we’ll teach you the rest of the skills required. Design and Photoshop can be taught but a passion for creatively solving problems is what gets you into advertising.

That said, keeping a job in advertising is tough because people actively avoid what we do. They install ad blockers, unsubscribe from everything, and press skip buttons to hurry up and watch a video of someone falling over. My mindset now is if I can get one campaign per year that I’m really proud of, it’s been a really great year.


DL: Which campaign have you been most proud of so far?

RC: Well, one of my very first client jobs in Atlanta was naming ice cream flavors for Baskin Robbins. Contrary to belief, I did not get to taste the ice cream in some Willy Wonka factory. I had to use their ingredient lists because it was so far out from production. It was still cool, but also easy to explain to relatives. My grandparents would order flavors once a month at the ice cream shop saying, ‘My grandson named this!’ to the teenager working the counter… who clearly didn’t care.

Recently however, we launched a new campaign for Snowbird ski resort which has a reputation for being a little rough around the edges. The campaign takes one-star reviews from Yelp and TripAdvisor and turns them into ads. We take negative reviews like- the snow is too deep, the courses are too difficult, there’s nothing to do unless you wanna ski all day- and flip them into advertising for the resort. It’s taking this very real thing of people complaining about these awesome aspects, and showing if you want a proper ski trip, then this is where you want to be. It really hit, and that felt awesome.


DL: How did your time at Wake prepare you for life after graduation?

RC: The thing that prepared me most was being part of the Lilting Banshees comedy troupe. That was where I really started to write and be funny. I made those yellow posters that are all over campus, which is a good exercise for writing print ads. Between posters and writing sketches, I learned how to be funny. Also, performing these jokes in front of an audience prepared me for pitching ideas to clients in an agency. Doing that with a dash of humor is so crucial.

Also with pitches, more often than not your ideas don’t go over super well. You’re always trying to push a client just a little bit toward uncomfortable. If you only present the same expected ideas they’ll never break out from amongst their competitors. I’ll do the song and dance some presentation, and the client takes a moment to pause before delivering the most flat rejection possible. You have to laugh it off even though the idea you shared was personal. Ultimately the ideas we come up with are born out of our own experiences that speak to a larger truth about how people interact with each other. To have that rejected so soundly can definitely hit at you… but just like with a joke falling flat onstage- you can’t be too precious.


DL: Do you have any advice for readers considering moving to Portland?

RC: I’m from Boston, but my wife is from Portland. The first time I came to visit I realized we had to move out here, no matter how long it took. Portland is a really interesting place not just for advertising but design and creatively driven pursuits. It’s very different from New York, LA and Atlanta, where Atlanta really tries hard to compete with those two cities. The hustle in Portland isn’t as exhausting. Everyone finds their niche here; there’s lots of small agencies doing amazing work for a select group of clients rather than chasing the big global brands like in other cities. If you have a specialty and a passion, you can find a way to make it work for you. Whether you go freelance or find a place to work, there’s plenty of options.


DL: Do you have a mantra you go by, or kernel of advice you’d like to impart?

RC: I have a number of post-it notes on my monitor that I repeat to myself constantly, the oldest of which says, ‘Be mindful of the work you leave for others’. I think when you work in a big team it’s easy to let someone else handle the dirty or boring stuff. This is an industry where there’s grunt work, like cranking out tiny web banners for hours on end waiting for that awesome campaign to come along. If you can live with that gladly, take it on and be helpful to other people, you’re more likely to be handed the bigger opportunities as they come.

Another post-it says: No one wants to work with a tortured artist. That’s not a viable career life option anymore! I truly believe you make your best work when you’re happy, healthy, and take care of yourself. I’d so much rather work with somebody that has some talent but a bigger desire to be better, than someone who is just pure raw talent but difficult to work with and precious about their ideas. Be a good person to the people that you’re working with.

One last post-it- right now is an amazing time to make a living off your creativity. You can work full time for a company or brand, bounce around doing freelance, or use platforms like Kickstarter and Patreon to build a following around you and your work. There’s never been a more fruitful time to be a creative-minded person, which I wish was the case when I graduated.

Spotlight Interview: Betsy Rives

Betsy Rives: Strategist, Google

San Francisco, California

WFU Class of 2008

Major: Studio Art

Double Minor: Art History & Women and Gender Studies

b rives.jpg

Betsy Rives launched into an MFA program only a year after graduating from Wake. After time in DC and New York, Betsy took the advice of a mentor from Scales' art faculty and moved to Los Angeles. Now a Strategist at Google's San Fran HQ, Betsy catches us up on her current role and the path which led her there.

DeacLink: Working at Google is a dream for many- what's your role in the San Fran office, and what sort of duties does it entail?

Betsy Rives: I am a Strategist at Google within the Real Estate and Workplace Services team, the group that helps design Google’s built environment. Our organization touches everything from desk spaces to transportation and from the food program to local ecology. I am one of 6 Strategists, and we act as internal consultants for the org. We help to solve a wide variety of problems by designing research methodologies, organizational structures, internal technology platforms, and systems guidance. My day to day includes meetings with lots of different people throughout Google in order to carefully understand user needs and identifying areas for growth.

DL: We understand you got an MBA from Yale. How was that? Did you enter hoping to achieve a particular goal?

BR: I actually have two graduate school experiences. I received my MFA in Interrelated Media from MassArt in 2011, and I finished my MBA in Design and Innovation from Yale in 2017 (last May). These were two very different programs, and I entered each for different reasons and with different mindsets.
I entered the MFA program only 1 year after graduating (which was too soon, Professors David Faber and Page Laughlin warned me as such). I started my MFA in the painting program and had the goal to simply make work and make connections. I did just that. I had a wonderful and intense experience, as David said, MFAs are like making 10 years of growth in only 2. The program was mentally challenging and played a huge role in how I think about problem solving, materials, and critical dialog.
After my MFA, I took advice from Page, and moved to Los Angeles. In LA I was fortunately to
land an incredible role at LACMA (the LA County Museum of Art). At LACMA I worked in
Membership and then Education. I worked closely with artists and the public, and I started
developing a new skillset .. data analysis. I was able to use basic data interpretation to increase
the number of students the museum could serve, improve our educational programs, and assist
artists with the challenging process of budget creation. I didn’t know best practices around this type of work, so I decided to go back to school for my MBA. I did not have the slightest idea of what to expect in business school. Yale was a big culture shift for me. I quickly learned that there is a huge world of business leaders that highly value creative thinkers. My art background allowed me to quickly stand out within my cohort. I led the Design and Innovation group at Yale, which allowed me to leverage all of my Wake Forest skills in a new setting.

DL: Did you feel prepared for life after undergrad as you exited WFU?

BR: I graduated from Wake in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis. Page, David, Jen, all of the wonderful crew at Wake, cautioned me against going straight to grad school for my MFA
(rightfully so), but I was a bit lost. I moved to DC because my sister lived there, and I soon found administrative work. I worked at George Washington University as a receptionist until I found a job as a Director of a gallery in Georgetown. I only worked at the gallery for a few months before the owner announced we would be closing due to the economy. I then found another role as an event planner in the legal field. All of the stress of job hunting and job hopping in the first 9 months after school motivated me to apply for grad school, despite not being fully ready.
I don’t know if anyone or anything could have fully prepared me for life after undergrad
(though all of the rock-star professors at WFU tried). However, the greatest gift I have received
from all of the art faculty at Wake was the confidence to take chances and embrace the
unpreparedness. I have had a lot of not-so- glamorous jobs since graduation (from scooping ice cream to crowd-control), but the terrific experience I had at Wake instilled a resilience in me and the assurance that everything will work out.

DL: Throughout your journey, you've picked up tremendous amounts of experience; what advice sticks out to you the most?

BR:  The faculty in the art department provided some of the most stabilizing advice for my career. For example, I remember talking to Jen about how your 30s are so much better than your 20s. It seems silly to say, but I clung to that conversation as a promise that things would get better if I pushed myself throughout the uncertainty my 20s. Likewise, when I was finishing my MFA, I ran into David and Page in New York. Page suggested I move to LA because I was completely lost, and she responded to my skepticism by confidently saying that I could make it work. I followed Page’s advice, and I frequently told myself throughout that tough transition to Los Angeles that I only needed one person to believe in me and I had Page. In fact, I knew I had all of the WFU community supporting me through the wisdom and personal support I received throughout my time at Wake.

Spotlight Interview: Meaghan Steele

Meaghan Steele: Business Manager, Sotheby's

New York City

WFU Class of 2011

Double Major: Art History (Honors) & Spanish

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Meaghan Steele studied abroad, mastered the Spanish language, and dove headfirst into art history during her Wake undergrad years. Upon graduation, Steele worked internships in museums and galleries before landing in the auction house realm. Speaking to us now as a Sotheby's associate business manager, Meaghan discusses her path and lessons learned along the way.

*Since the posting of the interview, Meaghan has been promote to Business Manager at Sotheby’s.


DeacLink: What did you study at Wake? How has your career unfolded since?

Meaghan Steele: I was an Art History and Spanish double major. I went abroad and studied at the Wake Salamanca program in Spain my junior year. In one of my classes there, I learned about an oft-forgotten Valencian artist, Josep Renau, who I ended up writing my senior thesis about. My thesis showed me just how interconnected my majors were. And, since graduation, I’ve continuously seen how helpful it is to have a second language; especially if I had decided to go the academic route, I definitely would have needed that second language for research.

At Wake, I figured out pretty quickly that I wanted to study Art History because I took AP art history my senior year of high school and missed taking a course solely devoted to the arts my freshman fall. I knew I should start getting experience in the industry as soon as possible, so the summer before my sophomore year of college, I interned with a local museum on Long Island (the Heckscher Museum of Art). I interned for them again the following summer and the summer before my senior year, I interned with a larger museum, still on Long Island (the Nassau County Museum of Art). During my senior year, I had this belief that the only logical career path was working for a museum, and I was already thinking that I would need to get my Masters; however, during my senior spring, I took the arts management course, and that’s when I met Cristin [Tierney]. A whole new world of opportunities opened up for me after that course as I learned about all of the different facets of the art world and the jobs in the art market beyond the museum space, which ended up being instrumental in how my career has since unfolded.

After graduation, I moved back home to Long Island. I interned for Cristin and then moved to part-time that fall, while still applying for jobs. Ultimately, she offered me a full-time job as the gallery’s Administrator and Registrar starting in January 2012 and I worked for Cristin until March 2014, when I moved to Sotheby's where I currently am.

I initially joined the Floater program at Sotheby’s and floated in Client Services for a few months before moving to a specialist department in early summer 2014: the Watches department. Now, I had no experience with watches or a really an interest in them, but it was a specialist department and any opportunity like that for a Floater was a good one. And, it ended up being really perfect timing because while I was floating in the Watches department, Sotheby’s announced that we would be selling the most important watch in the world - The Henry Graves Jr. Supercomplication - for sale in November 2014. In July 2014 the Watches’ Division Director asked me to be the go-to person for all things related to the sale of the Supercomplication, so I more or less became a project coordinator for the sale of this incredible piece.

Now, at the same time that we were preparing for the sale of the Supercomplication, a man named Daryl Wickstrom was moving back to New York from Hong Kong to assume the role of International Managing Director of the Global Jewelry and Watches Division. So, by working on the sale of the Supercomplication, not only did I gain incredible experience working with the international team, but I also started to work with Daryl; when he moved back to New York that fall and was looking for an Assistant, everything fell into place. So, I transitioned into a full-time permanent job at Sotheby’s as Daryl’s Assistant after Thanksgiving 2014, and held that position until May 2015.

In May 2015, I transitioned to a new job: the Administrator for our Business Manager Group. Along the way, while working on the sale of the Supercomplication (and later the Lesedi La Rona 1,100 carat rough diamond) and working for someone whose job was focused on global strategy and the business, I realized that I did not want to go back to school whatsoever and did not really have the same interest in research and writing that I had when I was in college or after I graduated. Rather, I was so much more interested in the business side of auction (and the arts) so becoming the Administrator for the BM group was a natural next step. As the Administrator I got to know all of our Business Managers and the Finance team, and started understanding how P&Ls work with the ultimate goal of becoming a Business Manager myself. And then this past summer I was promoted to Associate Business Manager.


DL: Would you mind telling me more about what you're doing at Sotheby’s? How that transition from the gallery to auction house world?

MS: As a(n Associate) Business Manager, I partner with our departments and serve as the link between not only the specific department with which I am working and Finance, but also that department and the rest of the company. My departments include the Asian Art Division (Chinese Works of Art, Chinese Paintings, and Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art), Human Resources, including our worldwide Learning & Development budget, Legal, Post-Sale Services, Shipping, Catalogue Production and Photography, and our Corporate departments. For all of these departments and the people who work in them, I act as a sounding board for ideas and work with everyone to troubleshoot problems and find solutions, provide historical data, navigate corporate governance, track budgets and costs, and help plan and strategize for long-term growth and success of the departments and the company. I also help our selling departments conduct auctions and organize private sales.


DL: How much did your time at Wake inform your career path?

MS: I would not be where I am without the Arts Management course. While I was a student, it was really the only opportunity for me to network and seek guidance for a life in the arts after Wake.


DL: How have you found the different jobs you've had?

MS: My job with Cristin came from meeting her during the Arts Management course. When I was ready to move away from the gallery, I used NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts) and combed through their art world job posts board. NYFA is your best way to see what is available in New York and other places in the country. Jobs are often available on there before Glassdoor, Linkedin, and other big job search sites, which still do not really cater well to all of the arts whereas NYFA does. It’s how I found out that Sotheby's was hiring for the Floater program and applied.


DL: Auction Houses, and Sotheby’s in particular, seem to be a popular career option for art alums. How did you make the transition, and what is the hardest part about breaking into this field?

MS: In terms of transitioning from a gallery to an auction house, the biggest shock was going from a staff of 3-4 people, where you rolled up yourselves and fixed everything yourselves, to now over 500 people in our building and people that have jobs to help you fix your problems. At the gallery, we had to be on the phone with say Verizon if we had any issues. The resources at Sotheby’s were a shock. I knew it going in, but it was a different animal. The other thing that was amazing to see was just how much crossover there is between a small-staffed gallery and an auction house. I think a lot of people are surprised I have worked here only three and a half years, and they think I have been here longer, and I credit that to working with Cristin in a contemporary gallery and the arts market class.  

The hardest part about getting an auction house job is having the right experiences, and it's about how you present yourself on paper. There is a huge pool of applicants for every role. You have to be attentive to detail and show that you are knowledgeable and not afraid to take on a challenge. There are a limited number of jobs available, and you have do what you can to stand out from the crowd.


DL: How do you like living in New York? What advice do you have for students considering pursuing a career in the city?

MS: The arts is one of the more difficult industries to break into. There are so few jobs for so many people. It is a “who you know” type of world. It’s huge if you know someone that can get you in the door for an interview or make sure your resume is read. Once you are in the industry, it is much easier to find your next opportunity.

I am very fortunate in that I am from Long Island. To work in the arts, there is no better place to start your career than New York since it is the hub. For me, I was able to live at home for a year and I wouldn’t have made it here otherwise. New York can be a challenging place to live; however it’s home for me. Being in New York, there is always something to do or to see, or a new person to meet. It is certainly never boring.


DL: What do you think Wake arts could do to better prepare students for life after graduation?

MS: The arts market trip itself is not necessary but I think it’s extremely advantageous. Even without it, the school should still have the class. I think that’s my biggest piece of advice for the University.

The OPCD should also know the nuances of cover letters and resumes for art people. They were not very helpful when I was a student since they focused on writing resumes for business jobs. I didn't get what I needed to succeed in the industry from the OPCD but I am hopeful that the feedback and change in administration since I graduated has helped more recent students. Nevertheless, I feel fortunate every day to have been able to attend Wake Forest; to have been an Art History student and to have made the lasting connections I have with my peers, fellow alums, and my professors. The Wake Art community is very tight knit and we all support one another. I would not be where I am today without Wake Art and the incredible people who work in Scales.

Spotlight Interview: Jenny Moore

Jenny Moore: Executive Director, Chinati Foundation

Marfa, Texas

WFU Class of 1995

Major: Anthropology

Minor: Studio Art

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Jenny Moore converted internships into job opportunities upon leaving Wake Forest, maintaining a solid work ethic and zeal for passion projects. Now stationed in the renowned city of Marfa, Texas as Executive Director of The Chinati Foundation, Jenny shared her story along with some quality advice.


DeacLink: Tell us about your role at Chinati Foundation. How have things changed since you came on board in 2013?

Jenny Moore: I am the Director of the Chinati Foundation. We are a contemporary art museum that was founded by Donald Judd. It’s located on a former military base with 344 acres and 34 buildings, so it's not a typical museum in terms of its scale and history. We are also unique in that we are an institute founded by an artist and founded in direct response to Judd’s opinion that big museums often fail artists.

We have a small staff in far-flung place, but also a large scope and a pretty intense mission. We need to follow the wishes of Judd as well as supporting artists on their own terms. We have 13 large scale permanent installations all created by artists themselves in response to invitations, and it was this fantastic opportunity for them to make something permanent on a large scale. Often times, the Minimalism rooms in large museums all look the same from one institution to the next. It’s the lowest common denominator in terms of an art experience. Judd wanted to create something different that would be permanent and enduring.


DL: What's your favorite thing about Marfa, outside of the Foundation's grounds?

JM: It’s really an extraordinary place. As much as we travel and as far we go, it’s a long way to get to Marfa. The closest airport is three  hours away through the desert. It’s an extreme experience. The population is 2,000 people, but the world comes through here so it has an interesting dynamic. What people are struck by are the light and scale of the land. I am looking out the window and I can see for 80 miles. It is extraordinary, the scale. We are in a pretty far removed corner of Texas. We have the benefit of a rich cultural life between Chinati as well as the culture inspired around it. There’s a very dynamic community of artists, ranchers, and third generation Hispanic communities. The border is a very important part of our lives here. That lends a richness and perspective that is important and significant now more than ever. Marfa is magical.. it has singular characteristics - very interesting and distinct.


DL: Your major at Wake was in Cultural Anthropology. How much involvement did you have with the art program, and did either drive or inform your career path?

JM: I was an Anthropology major and Studio Art minor. I had an influential teacher, David Helms, and he had gotten his undergraduate degree in anthropology and was teaching culture classes. What was interesting to me was that my experience was not like most Wake kids. A majority of the people I knew were in business school or pre-med. The anthropology department was really small. Art was a bit bigger, but everyone knew each other. I was closer to the art faculty than other students. There were a couple of interesting dynamics that I think play into what DeacLink is trying to achieve. They came up at another university where I was speaking to someone running an art department. They seemed skeptical that someone with a fine art degree would find employment; I was struck by the concern of the lack of employability. The people I was in college with were much more engaged in the pursuit of knowledge, questioning, and working through things, and we weren’t driven by the “will this get me a job” mentality. Economics are different these days, but I had time at Wake to consider what it meant to be learning. I could think about art, creativity, and problem solving.

Anthropology allowed me to learn fundamental human nature and how to apply scientific inquiry to that, but at the same time, humans are complex things. You could learn and think about the process of thinking about learning. There was real freedom in that. My parents were very supportive of me, which also really helped. But I can't think of a better way to have prepared for a job as the director of a contemporary art museum. Like the artists here, I have struggled with what it means to be alone in a studio, and you don't have anything good, and you are totally failing, but you have to put it out there and deal with the consequences. I was so lucky to have the depth of an outcome-independent educational experience. The skills I learned in thinking through things and the support I received from teachers really helped me. You need to be resilient when you get out into the world, and you have to stick to the things that give you inspiration and passion, and for me those things were art and anthropology.


DL: What or who directed you to Bard's Curatorial Studies program for graduate school? Do you see grad school as important for students aspiring to roles like yours at Chinati?

JM: I went to graduate school ten years after I graduated from college. That was a very important decision. By the time I applied, I knew exactly what I wanted to get out of the program, and I had a goal and a focus. It was interesting going to Bard when I did. There was a range of students, from 22 years-old's that wanted to be taught how to be a curator, to a 40 year-old who’s run things before. When I got out of school, the best thing I did was doing whatever it took to get a job. I moved to Portland, and I sent out a lot of resumes, and I just wanted it. I knew art was meaningful to me, so I was willing to do any kind of job that got me close to that kind of experience. Over the course of my career, there have been times where I worked four to five jobs. Each gave me something, but none were enough to make a living off of. If you have a drive to succeed and be a part of something, you will find a way to get there.

I left the Guggenheim to work for Exit Art - which was this funky crazy nonprofit art space that was in downtown SoHo. I learned so much from that experience. I left the job that was better on paper for the one that seemed a little more idiosyncratic. But throughout my career, opportunities have shown up and I have taken them because I could learn something from it. In the art world, there is this pressure and questioning around “What do I need to do to get to a certain place and what degrees do I need to get there?” But don't sell real life experiences short. If you are passionate about it, the hard work isn't that hard. It’s never easy, but it’s incredibly fulfilling.

When I applied to grad school, I had a broad range of work experiences, and that made me a more interesting candidate for them. Because I knew what I wanted out of grad school, I could ignore some of the BS. Also I met amazing people that are important in the field and that are also some of my closest friends, mentors, and champions. I imagine grad school is intense at any program, but you also meet extraordinary people that help you through that, and who continue to champion you after.

When I interviewed for this role, they were looking for a seasoned professional with a proven track record. I was a curator in New York but I hadn’t been a fundraiser to the level that the position needed. However, I had a connection through grad school who really championed me to the recruiter. I think if people can find a few champions in life, you will subsequently find those that will go out on a limb for you.

Also, the art world is a small world, so don't be an ass - it comes back around. Be gracious, hard working, respectful, and fair. That makes anyone stand out in any field, and people remember that. People will remember someone for those qualities when there’s an opening. When I have been in the position to offer my opinions on someone, these are the type of people that I recommend.


DL: Before Chinati, you worked at both the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and then the New Museum. Could you tell us a little more about both experiences, how you found and applied to these positions, and the most challenging aspect of each?

JM: I got to New York through my internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice. I was able to get that internship because I studied abroad in Venice at Wake Forest. I learned about that internship program and fell in love with Venice. I had found myself in an unpleasant work environment one and a half years out of college. I applied for the internship, was selected for it, and moved in Venice. That led to the Guggenheim in New York, for which I moved again. I left that job to work for Exit Art for many years.

I also started doing art exhibitions in my apartment at the time, as I wanted to show artists that weren't getting attention elsewhere. It was about five years of doing that when I realized that I had a good art history background from in college, but there was a lot of theory that I wasn’t familiar with that artists were referencing in their work. It wasn’t right to exhibit them and make decisions about their work without being more well informed intellectually. So I took a deep dive into critical theory in graduate school.

It was after graduate school that I applied for the role at the Warhol Foundation. It was amazing to go through 66,000 of Warhol's photographs, many of which had never publicly been shown. I was able to see a person’s worldview and how influential it was to their artmaking, and it was this private experience that had not been shown to broader public

Also I was working in a gallery, and I had my first child, and then I was laid off from my job. That led to a situation where the partner of my close friend (who I had hired once before) was looking for a curatorial assistant for an art exhibition in Asia. They asked me to help out, saying I could work from home. In effect, I was able to work on one of the most insane projects and largest exhibitions in Asia while also taking care of my daughter. With that project, I was working with with Massimiliano Gioni for the Korea Biennale, now called the Gwangju Biennale.

At the same time, I left New York for a few months to be in France. My husband is an artist, and he was given a space to work in for a few months. Massimiliano was promoted to Artistic Director for New Museum, and he was building a curatorial program, and he asked me to come on board. That goes back to the importance of establishing friendships and being responsible with your work. There was a lot of luck, but you generate luck by being a good person and making friendships and working hard together on something meaningful. We believed in something that people were skeptical of. Judd established this museum against all odds. People thought nobody would ever visit - but it has succeeded against all odds hundreds of miles from a cultural center.


DL: Before we let you go, there's a lot of buzz around Solange's upcoming performance of 'Scales' in Marfa. Please tell us more about this amazing collaboration.

JM: Solange wrote that Donald Judd has been a real inspiration for her. She was stuck by his conviction and his belief that surely there had to be another way. He had this mentality of “I won't just make it for myself, but for other artists whose work I think is the best of the time”. The artists he invited to be here on a large scale and permanent basis, were often his friends. Solange has been performing ‘Scales’ in institutional settings to break open topics like, what is an art exhibition; who it’s for; how do you experience art; who has a seat at the table… and who doesn't. I am proud she wanted to partner with the Chinati Foundation in that way to break through who an institution supports. It is a very dynamic visual context and I am excited to see how she brings her piece into the context of the concrete works. I cannot wait to see how she brings her vision, talent and power to an inspiring place.

Our mission remains in support of the permanent installations that are fundamental to this institution. It is a small group of people, but you can bring in new voices to the conversation by inviting other artists to interact with the work here. From year to year you’ll have a new experience with the permanent works because you can introduce new aspects to the dialogue. Solange is creating a whole new experience of people who have seen these things dozens of times.


DL: Finally, have you got a piece of advice or mantra you go by currently, to leave with the readers?

JM: It is not easy to find the thing that gives you meaning and that you are passionate about in life. But if you find it, stick with it because it gives you strength to work hard and creates situations that you never imagined. Find work that gives you meaning. It might not meet everyone's definition of success, but if it inspires you, then it’s worth sticking with and working really hard for. Be open to the fact that there are a lot of ways to get where you want in life.

Spotlight Interview: Steph Hyatt

Steph Hyatt: Art Consultant

Atlanta, GA

WFU Class of 2015

Major: Art History

Double Minor: Communications & Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise

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Steph Hyatt checks in with us about her current role in art consultancy, previous experiences along the way, and life in Atlanta.


DeacLink: What did you study at Wake? How has your career unfolded since?

Steph Hyatt: I studied Art History and double minored in Communication and Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise (ESE). When I graduated, I moved to London where I received a Masters in Entrepreneurial Leadership in Global Business and also worked in B2B Marketing at a financial services firm. I continued working in that field when I first moved to Atlanta in 2016 but now am an Art Consultant at Wendover Art Group. When I graduated, I never imagined I’d be here but I genuinely love what I do and my team is incredible.


DL: Would you mind telling me more about what you're doing at Wendover? What’s it like working in the commercial art space?

SH:  I work at the Atlanta branch of Wendover Art Group with 12 other art consultants. Our company is one of the biggest suppliers of commercial artwork, mostly for hotels. We not only advise customers on artwork to use for their public space and guestrooms, we also work with artists directly to license their work and manufacture all of the art in-house at our state of the art facility in Tampa, FL.

A lot of people think I just pick out art all day but that’s not at all the case! art consultants wear a lot of hats - I’m in constant contact with our pricing team, graphic design, vendors, logistics, and of course with our customers too, all to ensure we’re delivering superior value and a high quality product.

Some of the projects I’ve worked on are incredibly ambitious but the end result is amazing. It’s such an incredible feeling when you see art you helped bring to life hanging at a major hotel!


DL: How much did your time at Wake inform your career path?

SH: A lot of the time I spent at Wake I was just focused on taking classes I thought were genuinely interesting and would challenge my thinking. The Business School never appealed to me because I felt like I had the rest of my life to learn more about business.

When it comes to applying for jobs, I think more and more corporations are warming up to hiring graduates from a variety of academic backgrounds. Your unique path can even work to your advantage if you can demonstrate that you’ll bring a fresh perspective to that work environment.


DL: How have you found the different jobs and internships you've had?

SH: The corporate world may seem scary to someone just joining the workforce but generally people want to give you the tools you need to succeed. I promise the Miranda Priestly’s of the world are a rarity. Your mentor or boss wants you to grow in your role so don’t let age or lack of experience prevent you from taking on more responsibility! The things that would have made me cry when I first graduated don’t even give me pause now and that strength comes from saying yes to difficult opportunities.


DL: What advice do you have for students considering applying for a “practical” masters after have an undergraduate degree in art or art history?

SH: I wouldn’t worry so much about obtaining what you think is a “practical” masters. Assess your strengths and apply yourself to pursuing a role that complements those strengths instead.

If you decide to go for another degree, that’s great! But do so because you’re passionate about what you’d be studying, not because you feel like it’s the only way an employer will take you seriously. I view my masters degree as more of an interesting footnote on my resume, rather than the highlight.


DL: How do you like living in Atlanta? What advice do you have for students considering pursuing a career in the city?

SH: I love Atlanta. After living in London and in Winston-Salem, Atlanta feels like the perfect mix of a big city but is accessible enough for someone who has just graduated. There’s always something to do and people are for the most part really friendly.

I really recommend researching the location of any jobs you apply to in Atlanta - a lot of companies will claim their office is in Atlanta but really the commute is 45 minutes or more outside of the city!


DL: What do you think Wake arts could do to better prepare students for life after graduation?

SH: I think programs like DeacLink are definitely a step in the right direction - I knew when I graduated I wanted to work at a corporation (not in higher education or the non-profit sector) but I didn’t have much direction beyond that. It just felt like there weren’t many resources out there that defined different career possibilities with an Art History degree. I honestly never thought I’d use my degree again!


DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on to current students and recent alums?

SH: No matter where you end up right after graduation, even if it’s a job you’re not thrilled about, view your first job as an immense opportunity to learn as much as you can about how successful businesses operate.

Understanding and appreciating how your role impacts the business gives meaning to your work and so many of the skills you gain as an entry level employee carry on to your next opportunity, even if you make a 180 degree pivot like I did! Show up, work hard, make yourself an asset and doors will open for you.

Spotlight Interview: Caldwell Tanner

Caldwell Tanner: Storyboard Artist & Illustrator

Los Angeles, CA

WFU Class of 2009

Major: Studio Art

Minor: English

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Caldwell Tanner converted an undergrad freelance gig for College Humor into a full-time position with the website in NYC. He has since moved to LA and joined Disney Television Animation as a storyboard artist. Caldwell takes us through his journey from WFU to web comedy wizard.


DeacLink: Tell us what you’re doing at the moment- your current role and any additional projects outside of work.

Caldwell Tanner: For the past year, I’ve been working as a storyboard artist for Disney on an upcoming cartoon of theirs. I’m actually coming back in off a hiatus soon to finish this project. Before this I was doing video work for College Humor on their YouTube channel.  I also do a YouTube channel called Drawfee, which is a live drawing channel. It’s basically a podcast with a drawing component.


DL: All three of these sound super cool. Take us through your path to this point since leaving Wake.

CT: So, I came to Wake Forest from Nashville. I had grown up going to camps in North Carolina, and really liked the state and the school. I interned for College Humor during undergrad through some former alums, one of which had been a Lilting Banshee (WF's comedy troupe) like me. I started the internship my junior year, and kept freelancing through to graduation. After Wake I went home and kept freelancing-- putting in an inadvisable amount of free labor-- until College Humor found it in their hearts/budgets to hire me. I moved up to New York in January of 2011 to go full time with them.

When I joined College Humor, there weren’t any other illustrators. I put in more and more time as the site grew; looking back, I just stuck around long enough. The hardest part about working for the internet is being aware of the constant changes in the landscape. It’s a rapid and high amount of change to keep up with… staying up on every little trend can be exhausting.

When my wife got a job in LA we moved here, and I continued with College Humor in the video department which handles the YouTube channel and development stuff as well. It was at this point that the Disney job came up. Disney is definitely a vacuum compared to the internet- you can work on a show for two years without anyone seeing it.. While it’s nice to be done with the fast pace of the internet, it can be hard to put years into a project without anyone knowing or caring about it at all. That said, it’s not a hopeless job by any means- the office environment is very cheerful; I feel lucky that coworkers are always up for video games and Taco Bell at lunch.


DL: That’s a big change from one to the other. What’s been your favorite project so far?

CT: I did a series called ‘Dinosaur Office’ with some friends of mine. It’s basically ‘Office Space’ with toy dinosaurs- the perfect type of dumb that I love. All the dinosaurs speak about boring office stuff, but in loud aggressive voices. It’s based on the way kids play with toys and growl at each other, interspersed with the mundanity of an office setting. The  series only showed via Nintendo 3DS and YouTube. So, any child who had a 3DS when they were three years old knows about ‘Dinosaur Office’... it’s got this incredibly niche audience.


DL: Did you consider a graduate degree after Wake? Why or why didn’t you pursue this route?

CT: I definitely thought about grad school. I had friends who went that route, but with art focused careers it’s much easier to learn on the job I think. Also, for what I wanted to do there was no reason to remain in a school environment when I could just dive into the work and learn more that way. I was pursuing my lead with College Humor, so I had that goal to push for. If I had been more aimless coming out of Wake I would’ve considered grad school more seriously. Instead I was stubborn and just wanted to make comics and stuff for the internet.

DL: How much did your studies or Wake in general inform or drive your career path?

CT: College gives you so many hours in a day to mess around and learn about stuff you’d never be able to in the real world. I read so many books! Like, where am I gonna read this many books by Victorian authors in my day to day? You don’t have any real responsibilities, so you can work within the facsimile of going to class and building this artificial collection of knowledge- I liked the game of it all. To me it was a big Supermarket Sweep of useless knowledge to be acquired, which informs you as a person.

I had an amazing digital art teacher named Professor Carter while I was at Wake, too. His class was a great opportunity to learn new programs and build news skills I never would’ve known about. We had a decent digital lab at Wake (for the standards then), which had tablets, Macs with Adobe suite, and so forth. I took everything  I was learning in class and work on it further outside on my own. I would design posters and videos for the Lilting Banshees, which gave me a rudimentary ability on most things. At the time I was in undergrad, it was the weird generational gap where I didn’t grow up having a laptop. So in college I had my own all of a sudden, with all the software and programs on it for me to learn and explore whenever I wanted.

DL:  What do you think Wake arts could have done to have better prepared students for life after graduation?

CT: I definitely had a solid base of preparation from the courses I took, in programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. From there I was able to self teach. But with regards to getting a job, you have to make connections on your own to a degree.

Perhaps Wake could provide more opportunities for kids to learn on their own, like offering more ‘independent study’ courses. Those were great for my development, and learning how to do what I wanted to do.


DL: What’s the hardest part about breaking into your field?

CT: It can’t be understated how important connections are. For instance, I got a job at Disney because one of my coworkers at College Humor did some writing on a Disney project then introduced me to their development team. This was around 2013, and from there I started submitting scripts to them. Eventually there was an opening and they slotted me in. It wasn’t this simple of course; to get the job I had to train for and pass a board test. I was given a two-sentence prompt to storyboard a one-minute sequence. And before this I had applied for a couple other board jobs and didn’t get them. So yes, it’s important to develop good relations with people but you’ve got to have the skills to back it up. You have to talk to people, then go home and draw and get better at drawing. Put in the hours, draw until it’s boring… that’s when you get good at it.


DL:  How do you like living and working in LA? Do you have any advice for students wanting to move there?

CT: I like it a lot- when we moved I remember thinking, ‘it’s cool like Nashville but it doesn’t rain or get cold’.  All the tacky, dumb stuff I like is out here, like theme parks and tiki bars. All the silly things a cartoon-loving adult man can enjoy are at my fingertips.

For kids that want to get out here, definitely pursue internships (especially because they have to pay you now). I know all the studios out here have intern programs. If you can intern in a place that takes you away from where you are, definitely do it. Also, it’s a good thing to exploit the connections that you have. Twitter didn’t exist when I was in college.. Facebook had barely started. If there’s someone out there that you admire, there’s no harm in reaching out to them. As long as you’re polite and don’t overreach, people are very willing to share their experience and provide feedback to help as much as possible.


DL: What has surprised you the most about LA?

CT: A lot of people out here are transplants, having come from somewhere else. It’s good because everyone came here by choice and with a purpose. The bad side to this is that everyone in LA is doing the same thing.

In New York we had friends that were doctors, worked for sanitation, you name it. Here it can be much more homogenous.


DL: What’s the coolest perk or experience you’ve had from your job?

CT: I got to meet Mark Hamill! He recorded a voice for a character that unfortunately no one will ever see, because it got cut. However that makes it all the more special somehow, because it’s this moment that only exists for a few of us. He was one line into the script which started with a ‘What the…’, when he stopped to comment that this saying that only exists in cartoons. I thought, ‘Luke Skywalker himself is roasting me, what a solid Tuesday!’


DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on, or currently go by?

CT: Make good friends that you can rely on to give you good advice and feedback. I got lucky because I worked with a very talented editor at College Humor, then I married her. So I get advice for free!

But seriously, for artists- don’t stop drawing. Give yourself a break every once in awhile, but keep drawing always.


Spotlight Interview: Laura Jurotich

Laura Jurotich: Former Assistant Manager of Member Programs, The High Museum

Atlanta, Georgia

WFU Class of 2015

Double Major: Art History & History

Read Laura’s interview from 2017 here. At the time, Laura was working for the High Museum's Member Programs department. She’s now the Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement & Annual Giving at Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta.      DeacLink:  What did you study at Wake? How has your career unfolded since?   Laura Jurotich:  I double majored in History and Art History. I knew that I wanted to be a History major after taking APUSH in high school, but I didn’t take my first Art History class until my sophomore year. I was hooked... and fell in love.     DL:  Would you mind telling me more about the High?   LJ:   The High Museum of Art  is the leading art museum in the Southeast. We’re situated in the heart of Midtown Atlanta, and we are fortunate to be located on a MARTA stop in such a great part of town. Our  Richard Meier  and  Renzo Piano  designed building is a work of art in and of itself.     DL:  How much did your time at Wake inform your career path?   LJ:  My time at Wake greatly informed my career path by allowing me to make connections with Art department alumni. I completed a slew of informational interviews my senior year that showed me that what I thought my post-grad plans should be did not align with what was best for me in actuality.     DL: How have you found the different jobs you've had?    LJ:  I   was an intern in the Marketing and Public Relations department at the High the summer before my junior year, and I kept in touch with my intern supervisors over the following two years. I constantly checked the High’s website for job postings, and I saw an entry level position in the Development department as the Membership Assistant. I let my former supervisors know that I was applying, and that nudge in addition to my internship experience helped me stand out in the applicant pool. I spent a year in the Membership Assistant position, and then the Assistant Manager of Member Programs position became available. I expressed interest in the position to my manager, and I applied and was offered the position.     DL:  Non-curatorial roles at museums seem to be a popular career option for art alums. How did you make the transition, and what is the hardest part about breaking into this field?   LJ:  My summer internships were in Marketing and Visitor Experience departments, so I started out in non-curatorial fields. Thus, I did not have to make a transition per say. Most of my Development colleagues did not study Art History, and while I personally believe that it makes the work more enjoyable, it is not necessary for a successful career in Development. The hardest part about breaking into Development is showcasing your willingness and eagerness to steward donors and cultivate new ones.     DL:  How do you like living in Atlanta? What advice do you have for students considering pursuing a career outside one of the “major” art hubs?   LJ:  I absolutely love living in Atlanta! I love how Atlanta is comprised of a series of diverse neighborhoods, each with its own vibe and containing a unique set of cultural offerings. I live on the BeltLine, and I find so much joy in walking outside my door to enjoy the public art, people watching, and excellent restaurants.  I would advise students considering pursuing a career outside one of the “major” art hubs to get to dig a little deeper and research the local arts scene; a city does not have to be New York City in order to have a vibrant arts culture.     DL:  What do you think Wake arts could do to better prepare students for life after graduation?   LJ:  I think that Wake arts could dedicate more time to discussing how to apply an Art degree to a career. I sought a counselor in  the OPCD  to help me make museum connections and figure out how to best use my WFU network. It would have been helpful if the Art majors were talked to more as a group about how potential careers in the arts in settings that were open to all students in the major, not just in special trip settings.

Read Laura’s interview from 2017 here. At the time, Laura was working for the High Museum's Member Programs department. She’s now the Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement & Annual Giving at Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta.

DeacLink: What did you study at Wake? How has your career unfolded since?

Laura Jurotich: I double majored in History and Art History. I knew that I wanted to be a History major after taking APUSH in high school, but I didn’t take my first Art History class until my sophomore year. I was hooked... and fell in love.

DL: Would you mind telling me more about the High?

LJ: The High Museum of Art is the leading art museum in the Southeast. We’re situated in the heart of Midtown Atlanta, and we are fortunate to be located on a MARTA stop in such a great part of town. Our Richard Meier and Renzo Piano designed building is a work of art in and of itself.

DL: How much did your time at Wake inform your career path?

LJ: My time at Wake greatly informed my career path by allowing me to make connections with Art department alumni. I completed a slew of informational interviews my senior year that showed me that what I thought my post-grad plans should be did not align with what was best for me in actuality.

DL: How have you found the different jobs you've had?

LJ: I was an intern in the Marketing and Public Relations department at the High the summer before my junior year, and I kept in touch with my intern supervisors over the following two years. I constantly checked the High’s website for job postings, and I saw an entry level position in the Development department as the Membership Assistant. I let my former supervisors know that I was applying, and that nudge in addition to my internship experience helped me stand out in the applicant pool. I spent a year in the Membership Assistant position, and then the Assistant Manager of Member Programs position became available. I expressed interest in the position to my manager, and I applied and was offered the position.

DL: Non-curatorial roles at museums seem to be a popular career option for art alums. How did you make the transition, and what is the hardest part about breaking into this field?

LJ: My summer internships were in Marketing and Visitor Experience departments, so I started out in non-curatorial fields. Thus, I did not have to make a transition per say. Most of my Development colleagues did not study Art History, and while I personally believe that it makes the work more enjoyable, it is not necessary for a successful career in Development. The hardest part about breaking into Development is showcasing your willingness and eagerness to steward donors and cultivate new ones.

DL: How do you like living in Atlanta? What advice do you have for students considering pursuing a career outside one of the “major” art hubs?

LJ: I absolutely love living in Atlanta! I love how Atlanta is comprised of a series of diverse neighborhoods, each with its own vibe and containing a unique set of cultural offerings. I live on the BeltLine, and I find so much joy in walking outside my door to enjoy the public art, people watching, and excellent restaurants.

I would advise students considering pursuing a career outside one of the “major” art hubs to get to dig a little deeper and research the local arts scene; a city does not have to be New York City in order to have a vibrant arts culture.

DL: What do you think Wake arts could do to better prepare students for life after graduation?

LJ: I think that Wake arts could dedicate more time to discussing how to apply an Art degree to a career. I sought a counselor in the OPCD to help me make museum connections and figure out how to best use my WFU network. It would have been helpful if the Art majors were talked to more as a group about how potential careers in the arts in settings that were open to all students in the major, not just in special trip settings.

Spotlight Interview: Kate Miles

Kate Miles: Interior Designer

Charleston, South Carolina

WFU Class of 2007

Major: Art History

Minor: Sociology


Kate Miles has traveled various paths leaving Wake Forest, including work in galleries, auction houses, interior design, and most recently, starting her own business. We caught up with Kate to learn all that's happened since undergrad.


DeacLink: What did you study at Wake? How has your career unfolded since?

Kate Miles: I majored in Art History and minored in Sociology. I did not go to Wake thinking I would do that. Honesty, I didn't know what I would study when I got there. I took a lot of liberal arts classes, and really enjoyed an Art History class. I had previously been interested in fashion, and I thought that I wanted to work in New York in the fashion industry. I dId an internship with Nicole Miller when I was at Wake, and I realized that’s not what I wanted to do.

Once I got into art history, I was thinking I would work in a museum, but I wasn’t really sure. But eventually, art history led to interior design. My parents were building on a house in Kiawah Island, and they hired an interior designer that went to Wake, Tammy Connor.  She has been very successful. I started working with her, and I was watching the process and really liked it. After Wake, I figured I would do an interior design program. I applied to SCAD and a few others, and heard good things about the about Sotheby’s Institute. I was accepted there, and moved to New York to do the Sotheby's year long Masters program in American Fine and Decorative Arts. I learned a lot about antiques, and I spent time at the auction house. I was also able to meet well known people in the industry. During the program, we traveled to London, Boston, and Charleston.

After the program, I decided to move to Charleston and write my thesis on one of the historic homes there. I focused on the Aiken-Rhett House. I wrote about the textiles and how the family selected them in the 1800s and their inspirations.

While I was in Charleston, I decided to start taking design classes at the Art Institute in Charleston. Then I moved, and I transferred to Art Institute of Raleigh in 2011.

Soon after I got married, and my husband took a job in Las Vegas. I had a hard time finding a job since Vegas was not a great market. I was looking at small design firms, and then I started looking at the arts in general. I ended up getting a job at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. I worked there and gave tours. There was a Monet exhibit most of the time I worked there, and it was a really cool experience, but it was not what I wanted to do.

When I got offered a job at Ethan Allen, I immediately accepted.  I would have preferred to work with an interior design firm but I figured it would be a good experience and it definitely was!  I was there for two years, and then we were transferred to Memphis, and I was able to transfer with Ethan Allen for two more years. Sadly, the market in Memphis wasn't quite as good. It was commission based so i wasn’t as successful in Memphis as I was in Vegas.  I took a break to have my son in 2015, and then we moved to Charleston soon after. I have been home with my son for the past two years, but my neighbors recently asked me to help them redo their kitchen. After working on that project, they recommended me to another client.  I have started my own business, Kate Miles Interior Design, which will hopefully continue to grow!


DL:  Would you mind telling me more about the interior design practice you are starting?

KM: I plan to focus on residential interior design!  


DL: What’s the hardest part about starting your own business?

KM: Getting clients is a big thing. I haven’t totally delved into that yet, but I have been lucky with word of mouth so far.  Getting my ducks in a row has been the hardest part, and it hasn’t always been easy to feel confident and ready to do it!  I saw a quote recently that really spoke to me.  “Great things never came from comfort zones.”


DL: How much did your time at Wake inform your career path?

KM: I do think it definitely did. I was able to take a bunch of different classes, it it was great that the school gives you two years to decide on a major. Studying art history was very fulfilling. I feel well versed on art and I enjoy going to museums and being able to appreciate art.  I also did a summer business program, which prepared me a little bit to be ready to do accounting and think about owning my own business.


DL: How have you found the different jobs you've had?

KM: I would say networking has been the primary way. I mentioned Tammy, who worked on my parents house. I interned with her for a month in Birmingham. She connected me with another person in Charleston. Ethan Allen was an application or email or email process. They weren’t hiring, but I just reached out and said I was job searching. My first job for Ethan Allen was more of a front desk role, and not a design job. However, I just took it since i knew I wanted to work in the industry and I needed to start somewhere.


DL: The interior design field seems to be a popular career option for art alums. What is the hardest part about breaking into this field?

KM: Your education gives you the background and the fundamentals, but working with someone gives you a look into the ins and outs of what you should be doing. In this field, people see the end product and just think it's fun. But the crunching numbers, researching, tracking, and logistics can be a hard part of the job.


DL: What’s the one kernel of advice you would give to current students?

KM: Take a chance and follow your passion. I do think that the art history studies really prepared me for a lot of different things!


DL: What do you think Wake arts could do to better prepare students for life after graduation?

KM: Since I knew I would be doing a graduate program, I didn't spend too much time in the career office.  But, I would think maybe having people working in different industries coming to the art department to speak etc. might give students more ideas of opportunities in the art world!

Spotlight Interview: Emily Ortiz

Emily Ortiz Badalamente: Graduate Student [ART THERAPY]

Washington, DC

WFU Class of 2015

Double Major: Studio Art & Psychology


Emily Ortiz came across the 'hidden' profession of art therapy after completing a double major in Studio Art and Psychology at Wake Forest. Emily is currently completing her master's at The George Washington University's Art Therapy & Counseling program. We were lucky to steal Emily from her studies for a moment to discuss her path since WFU.

*Posted September 2017- Since her interview, Emily has moved to Winston-Salem to begin her career in Art Therapy with Sawtooth School of Visual Arts in the Healing & Wellness through the Visual Arts program.

DeacLink: What did you study at Wake? What led you to pursue a degree in Art Therapy?

Emily Ortiz: I was a double major in Studio Art and Psychology. I didn’t go into Wake knowing I wanted to do art or psychology. With the liberal arts program, I had the chance to take lots of different classes, and fell in love with those two subjects. My dad is an artist, so I had that background, and I think I rejected it a little because he was one, too. I eventually got involved in both majors, but I wasn’t sure how to combine them. Then I interned for Arts for Life at Brenner Children’s Hospital, and there I learned about art therapy. It’s this wonderful mental health profession I had no idea about. It combines my love of psychology, the human mind, and the mental health benefits of working with art. I did research on a lot of Master’s programs, and found GW, which was one of the first art therapy programs to be established. I applied and went for an interview, and fell in love with the field and DC.


DL: Would you mind telling me more about your program?

EO: It is a 2 year program if you go full time, and I will graduate with my Master’s in August. You get a very thorough education and learn general therapy and counseling theories, techniques, and processes, while also learning how to incorporate creative processes, stages of artistic development, and so on. So it's a really an education that's quite unique to the field of art therapy. In order to do this, you need to have some undergraduate training in art and psychology, but not necessarily a major in those fields. A lot of people come from art or psychology backgrounds, but many of my classmates came from graphic design, teaching, interior design, and other backgrounds.

While in school at GW, you do two full-year internships. I interned at an inpatient psychiatric unit and a local county’s behavioral health department. So there’s a lot of hands-on learning that happens from your supervisors and directly from your clients. For instance, when working in this field with a client, you learn to stress the process and not the product. Not focus on what you are making or the end result, but how the process of creating and expressing oneself can be beneficial.

As another part of my program that really drew me is the abroad program that's tied into the cultural diversity course. I’ll be going to Abu Dhabi and India, and while there I will be learning about how art therapy is viewed outside of the US and how to work with diverse populations. There are a lot of considerations, for instance, how different colors or materials might have cultural implications and how your practice is dependent upon availability or acceptability of materials, which might vary from practice in the United States. Also, it will be really interesting to see the role the arts takes on because of the language barrier.


DL: What sort of work experience/exposure to the field have you gained? What’s your plan for after graduation?

EO: I recently finished year two of the 2 one-year internships. In our program, you work one year with adults and the second with children or adolescents. I did a bit more work with adults. My first one was inpatient psychiatric unit in DC. We did an art therapy group daily and worked with the patients there. It was an acute psychiatric unit, so the people were in crisis and only there for a short time. We used a variety of artistic media and processes to see how we help with people working towards stability. It was powerful to see how people can express themselves through artistic processes when they may not be able to speak about painful or traumatic experiences.

My second internship I just finished, and it was was with a local county’s behavioral health services. I started in Child and Family Services and then transitioned to Behavioral Health which was adult services. We did groups for outpatient clients, and I did groups with homeless outreach services. I had individual clients, and I co-lead a group for domestic and sexual violence services. It was a wide range of clients and it was really great to work with so many different people on any given day.

Our program also gives us the chance to work in an onsite community trauma clinic where we work as student therapists. As part of GW’s trauma training, each second or third year student works individually with a client in the George Washington Art Therapy Clinic. With client permission, our sessions are recorded so that we can bring the video to supervision and learn to critique ourselves and receive feedback. So that's something I found to be a really unique and important part of the learning process.

When using art as therapy, you are providing the materials or themes and letting people do what they feel they need to do in what might be a more open studio approach. You are there to support emotions that come out as people are creating, or help them process through the imagery or ideas that arise. Then there might be more directive art therapy, like some groups I do a more directive project and do projects that are related to their treatment goals, such as trauma processing or emotional regulation. There's a lot of learning to assess the client and what they need in that hour that you're with them.


DL: This is a field most alums don’t think about. How did you make the transition, and what is the hardest part about breaking into this field?

EO: Knowing that this field exists is the hardest part. People see coloring books that are labeled as “art therapy”, but that’s not really therapy. It can be so much more impactful for people. I think that’s a shame, and I wish I had known about the field sooner. It is such a powerful thing, and as an artist you know intrinsically that art is important and that the creative process can be healing, but most people don’t know the field is there and that there's an opportunity to bring that to more people.  


DL: What will you be doing after graduation?

EO: After I graduate, I will be moving back to Winston-Salem and looking for a job. My goal is to work with the adult population. Ideally, I’d like to work part time with that population, and start something else on the side. There is such a vibrant and growing art culture in Winston-Salem, especially community art. I think there's a lot of potential there for some sort of community art therapy initiative and I'd love to work on that. I've become very passionate about preventative mental health care, and I really believe art can help people deal with stressors of their daily lives. I would like to start something along those lines. It’s also been exciting to see things like THRIVE at Wake which tackles some of this.


DL: How do you like living in DC? What’s the arts community like?

EO: I really enjoy DC. It’s so exciting when you have a free day and are able to just wander into the National Gallery and be around this incredible artwork. It is such an exciting place to be. There’s obviously a lot going on politically in the city, but there’s much more than that. It’s also been interesting to see how people express political ideas through art. It's also great to see the arts culture in the cities around D.C. I live in Arlington, and in Alexandria there’s the Torpedo Factory which has over 100 artist studios and gallery and is a really inspiring space.


DL: What do you think Wake arts could do to better prepare students for life after graduation?

EO: I was not prepared for life after graduation, in the way that I think some of my classmates in other majors were. Wake focuses so much on business, but some of that is missing with art. The OPCD is a generally a good resource, but I'm not sure they were really aware of some of the more non-traditional options that are out there and how students might prepare for those paths. But I think some of that is changing from within the department. My senior year, Leigh Ann Hallberg put together a video meeting with Wake art alums in different fields, including an art therapist. It was amazing to be in touch with a therapist who had gone to Wake and to learn about her path, so I really appreciated that opportunity. I think more of that would be helpful for the majors that don't get as much attention from the school, like art. Wake needs more “Lunch and Learns” and things like that video meeting to increase exposure to non-traditional career paths.


DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on to current students and recent alums?

EO: It’s important to stay serious and do the research in terms of of what’s out there, so that you can find out about these more “hidden” career options. By doing your research, you are preparing yourself and opening yourself up to more experiences. Also, really getting to know yourself so you can figure out what you want to be doing and how that's going to match up to what you're passionate about. Grad school was definitely difficult, but what kept me going was a passion for what I was doing. I think if you find that passion it'll drive you towards where you need to be.

Co-Founder Q&A: Katie Winokur

Get to know Katie Winokur, Co-Founder of Deaclink.



Search and Assessment, Russell Reynolds Associates

     WFU Class of 2014  

           Double Major: Art History & Communications

            Minor: Entrepreneurship & Social Enterprise


Q: Why did you start DeacLink?

A: DeacLink is an extension of Kelsey Zalimeni and my love for the Wake Forest Art Department and our desire to help students succeed following graduation. The two of us were incredibly lucky in that we were able to take advantage of all of the opportunities that the university presented us in the arts, and yet both felt that we didn't have the support we needed to succeed in the art world after graduation. As a result, we had to hustle our senior year of college to make things work. During the year, we made many fantastic connections with Wake Alums across the the country and truly began to realize how robust the alumni network was. Two years following graduation, we couldn't stop thinking about how there needed to be a resource to connect those fantastic alums with curious students, and thus DeacLink was born. 


Q: What has been your coolest art world experience?

A: This is a hard question, but I have to say visiting the Venice Biennale in 2013 as part of the Lynn Johnson Travel Award was pretty fantastic. Never have I experienced so much contemporary art in such a condensed timeframe.  


Q: Can you name your favorite off the radar museum?

A: Hands down this is the Baltimore Museum of Art - it's an absolute jewel of a collection. It has one of the finest Impressionist collections in the country which was a gift of the Cone Sisters. The works they have by Matisse are stunning. The admission is free, and the building is located right next to the Johns Hopkins campus. 


Q: Most awesome exhibit or show you've seen?

A: I think the coolest of all was spending spending several hours watching The Visitors by Ragnar Kjartansson at Luhring Augustine in 2013 while on the Art Buying trip. It was one of the most mesmerizing experiences. A close second was the James Turrell retrospective at the Guggenheim. 


Q: How did you and Kelsey become friends?

A: Kelsey and I initially bonded over an immense love of food (and food trucks to be exact). From there, we quickly discovered a mutual interest in everything from soccer to art, and from there it was hard to keep us apart. 


Q: What's your favorite city for art?

A: I would have to say London (and I am quite jealous Kelsey gets to call this home). London has an amazing mix of contemporary and traditional arts. Their museums and galleries are best in class, and many of them are free (which in my opinion gives the city a leg up over New York). 


Q: Why do Wake Arts matter to you?

A: Wake Arts matter to me for many reasons. First, I feel like the faculty and staff in the art department could not have been more supportive of me as a student and a person, and I didn't experience that kind of connection anywhere else on campus. Also, I think that the arts are so instrumental in terms of having a holistic worldview. Studying art challenges you to think about things in a broad and multifaceted way, and when writing about the subject, it forces you to engage in a respectful yet antagonistic discourse in order to defend your opinion. Those kinds of communication skills often prevent people from being narrow-minded, and given today's political and social climate, I think our country could use a bit more of this style of thinking. 




Spotlight Interview: Jame Anderson

Jame Anderson: Architect

Washington, DC

WFU Class of 1993

Double Major: Art History & Studio Art

Jame Anderson has quite possibly the coolest job in our nation’s capital. As an architect for SmithGroupJJR in their Cultural Studio practice, Jame works to bring cultural institutions to life. From designing museums of all types and shapes, converting archaeological sites into museums, to planning collections and object based research facilities for universities, Jame tells us what it takes to succeed as an architect.

DeacLink: Tell us about what you’re doing right now.. Are there any particularly exciting projects going on for you?

Jamie Anderson: I’m currently based in DC working as an architect for SmithGroupJJR, in the Cultural studio practice. We deal with museums, historic preservation, performing arts centers, and collaborate often with higher education for things like art on campus. I’ve worked on cultural institutions for my entire career since Wake.

Our latest project at SmithGroupJJR is deciding what will become of a site in Richmond newly discovered to be a slave auction house, jail, and business from the 17 and 1800s. The project has been titled the ‘Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site’, but was known colloquially as ‘The Devil’s Half-Acre’ in its time. Everyone knew this area in Richmond had these sort of sites but there had been no prior documentation of it until now; an archaeological dig recently revealed the site’s buildings and artifacts.

The most interesting part of this project follows the story of human progress in our country. The owner Robert Lumpkin willed this property to the woman who bore his children, who was an enslaved African American owned by Robert Lumpkin. When he died she donated it to what has become the Virginia Union University, the first historically black university in the state of Virginia, which was then just starting up.

When deciding what will become of the site, it’s very important to listen to the surrounding community throughout the process. Before we can bring our design to the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site, it’s crucial to allow those who will be surrounded and touched by the project to speak and react first. From this point we can begin to make decisions, the biggest being what the site should be. Should it be a museum, a memorial.. Something else? In the next nine months we hope to produce a concept design of the entity that will exist there.

This is the only project I’m able to speak publicly about.. But there are some other extremely cool projects going on that have to remain private for now.


DL: Take us through your journey to your current occupation since leaving Wake.

JA: I graduated from Wake in 1993 and decided to move to the city with the most museums, because I knew that’s where I wanted to work. I had done a bunch of internships prior to graduation from Wake.. my mindset was to get into any museum that would take me.

From ‘93 to ‘95 I did a series of odd jobs for the Smithsonian. I was in the Office of Exhibits Central (OEC), responsible for fabricating components of exhibitions. We did matting and framing, silkscreening, clay modelling.. There was even a taxidermist on the team. It was a very wonderful, crazy place to be. I fabricated and painted items for dioramas at first, but I found that I really wanted to design the dioramas themselves.

I looked into grad schools and at the time there weren’t many Exhibition Design masters degrees. I decided to go back to architecture school at Rhode Island School of Design. I had no idea what I was getting into at the time.. The program was truly above and beyond. During the completion of my thesis, my advisor Mikyoung Kim recommended I try working for a firm after graduation to see what I thought of it. I took her advice, and landed at a forty-person firm in the suburbs of Washington who had just been hired as a joint partner on the National Museum of the American Indian. I worked on that project for five years, after which I moved to the National Gallery as an architect and exhibition designer.

There we were in charge of everything that the art touched, and everything the visitor saw. This ranged from information desks and little cafes, to picking the wall colors and designing pedestals for the exhibitions, to gutting complete portions of the building to show collections. We worked closely with the curators throughout the installation process as well. You don’t get to touch a Picasso everyday.. With gloves of course!

All of my colleagues were the top in their field, it was a professional and beautiful place to work. We worked on more than a hundred special exhibitions and projects. Last year, almost a year to the day, I left the National gallery after thirteen years there. I returned to SmithGroupJJR ready for a different type of museum.

DL: Would you say your studies at Wake informed or drove your career path?

JA: Yeah, I think so. Double majoring in Art History and Studio Art allowed me to look and think critically and develop my writing skills, whilst developing a sense of aesthetics and my own brand or style in the studio. The combination was really good, although it did need to be layered over with a design education for the career I was pursuing. That’s of course where RISD came in, where they consider design to be an artform. I went into RISD agreeing with that, and left there disagreeing.


DL: Do you think Wake arts could have done to better prepare students for life after graduation?

JA: Probably… the thing is, Wake’s career services (at the time) worked really well for other majors, but not necessarily for those in arts concentrations. Career and internship information for students focused on Art History or Studio Art comes basically from the professors. And this of course isn’t a knock against Wake professors, but a lot of times when you’re in an academic institution, you don’t know about all of the opportunities out there because in the academic environment your focus isn’t on that. Grades and growth are the main focus.

The biggest lack of connection was preparing students for portfolio review, and for critiques that weren’t to other students and professors, but to people you’re trying to sell work, or yourself, to. To me it’s the professional practice aspect that was missing. The Buying Trip and Management in the Arts course were very helpful but those experiences aside, it’s challenging. The best way for students to understand what opportunities are out there, is connecting them with alumni. There’s a need for arts-focused career days, either on campus or at a host city. That would be great for Wake’s art department and its students.

In fact, I started something in DC because I noticed there were lots of women there in the art field who graduated from Wake. I decided to pull everyone together during a summer when we had three Wake interns working in the area for various museums. The goal was to have them meet as many of these professional women as possible. Since that initial gathering, we all get together two or three times a year and network with each other. Now there’s a DC rep for WFU, Jennifer Richwine, who we inform about our meetings so more alumnae can get involved. We need to get together again soon, sometimes it's hard... but we will and it's great to have that network.


DL: What advice have you got for students in the process of applying to jobs and internships?

JA: I’m a Generation X’er so in the summer of 1990 when I obtained my first internship, nothing was computerized yet in the museum and academic world. I sent typed letters to every museum in DC and heard back from just one. This initial experience taught me to cast a wide net and really put myself out there; you have to if you want to get anywhere. I take that into the present day too, even though emails and online applications are in place to expedite the process; if you don’t ask the question, send the email, you’ll never hear a yes. You have to raise your hand and go for it.

Specific to DC, students wanting to work here should go on and get their profile set up. Most museums are federally run, so you have to fill out a federal application. Secondly, they should speak to the people whose job they want. Whether it’s the job you want now or in ten, twenty years... Talk to them about how to get started. Chances are that something within conversation will remind them of someone they know, and they’ll put you in touch with them. And yes, I mean on the phone or even in person! Be ready to talk, to have very clear questions, and be professional.


DL: What’s the hardest part about breaking into your field?

JA: Architecture takes a lot of follow-through. You have to go to school for a long time, take a lot of exams, and it’s one of those disciplines that’s notorious for its long hours and relatively low pay. You have to love what you’re doing and want to change and build environments. So, I would say the hardest thing is perseverance- you have to be a little stubborn.


DL: What kernel of advice would you like to leave with the readers?  

JA: Figure out what you love to do, then figure out how to do it.


Spotlight Interview: Douglas Fordham

Douglas Fordham: Educator

Charlottesville, Virginia

Associate Professor, UVA Art Department

WFU Class of 1995

Double Major: Art History & Economics

Douglas Fordham arrived at Wake Forest without any prior exposure to the arts. In the four years that followed, Douglas would realize his interest in both art history and creating in the studio. Now a professor of Art History at the University of Virginia, Douglas explains how his path has unfolded since undergrad.


DeacLink: Tell us about your current role at University of Virginia.

Douglas Fordham: I’ve been teaching at UVA for the past twelve years. I am an associate professor in the art department, which contains the studio and art history programs. My main field is Eighteenth Century European Art with a specialization in British art. My primary job requirement is to teach four classes a year, both undergraduate and graduate courses, and advise undergraduate and graduate theses. I’m also finishing up a book on printmaking and the British Empire in the Eighteenth Century.


DL: That all sounds fantastic. Could you take us through your journey to professorship since leaving undergrad at Wake?

DF: I graduated in 1995 and had no idea what I was going to do. I knew I wasn’t done learning and taking courses, and my experience in London studying art history had been particularly significant. I stayed in Winston to work in Wake Admissions for a year, and during that time I researched and applied to programs. I was grateful to have Professor Harry Titus’s guidance during this process, because I pretty much went into it blind. Looking back I believe the unique combination of my double major at Wake (Art History and Economics) helped me stand out; my undergraduate thesis combined the two and was a bit offbeat compared to the majority of applicants. Yale ended up being an obvious choice for me, given the funding opportunity and their incredible center for British Art.

The first few years at Yale were really hard, honestly. Compared to my peers my art historical background wasn’t terribly strong. However, the interdisciplinary work and research training that I received at Wake prepared me extremely well. It’s probably true for many people; you have strengths and weaknesses, and find a way to work it out.

I completed my graduate degree with Yale after seven years, and although they had career services it was still very stressful and difficult finding that first job. I applied to numerous positions. Anything that was remotely relevant. After interviewing for a few different posts, I was thrilled to accept a two-year Postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia in New York. While I was at Columbia I interviewed with UVa and received an offer to teach there.


DL: How much did your studies or Wake in general inform or drive your career path?

DF: I went to London with an Art History course led by Professor Bob Knott as an undergrad student. I had taken a few other courses in Scales before this point, including sculpture, and my semester in London ultimately sold me on the field of Art History.

Equally influential were my friends at Wake, many of whom I met through Dr. Tom Phillips, the Director of Scholarships. We all came to Wake on various scholarships, and were it not for these opportunities I doubt that I would have gone the route that I did. It’s interesting how many of my friends from that period are still working in the arts, including Phil Archer, Seth Brodsky, and Jude Stewart. A number of us started a fine arts house on Polo Road which served as an extension to the creative activities we were engaging with already. We did poetry readings, created artwork, played music… Seth was a phenomenally gifted guitarist (and now a teaches Musicology at University of Chicago) and held informal music lectures for all of us. He married Jude who was involved in the English department and is now a successful freelance author.

That Polo Road space was very important for us; it was an encouraging place. I actually had zero engagement with the arts prior to Wake Forest. I was raised in Jacksonville, Florida and attended high school in the suburbs of Atlanta. Nothing about my background had exposed me to art; in fact I think I had only been to one art museum before coming to Wake!


DL: It’s great that you discovered your passion during undergrad. Do you feel that Wake could do more to prepare undergrads like you for your next steps when they graduate?

DF: I think that Wake’s art department has done an extremely good job hiring junior faculty. Adding new fields and continuing to bring in quality people who are really connected to their field is the number one thing they can do for the success of the students who want to go on. The Venice and London houses also made a big impression on me, and helped to prepare me for a career in the arts. It is also beneficial for graduates to see a track record of success in the arts; I don’t remember such a resource for that while I was there.


DL: You mentioned the difficulty of getting that first job out of Yale. What resources were there for you during this job search period?

DF: Yes, I was on the job market for two years. Yale did have some career service help, but they also had a pretty grandiose sense of themselves saying, ‘Just apply and you’ll be fine.’ They’ve now devised a much better support system, from what I understand. People with PhD’s in the arts and humanities are getting jobs in all sorts of fields now, and they’re helpings graduates find employers who look for those credentials.

I essentially searched for jobs through CAA (the College Art Association), which is the professional organization for studio art, art history, and museums in North America. Jobs are listed by academic specialization, which can be quite narrow, so you apply to whatever makes sense. The CAA has an office in NYC but hosts annual conferences, sponsors publishing and research grants, and other programs. It’s kind of like the American Medical Association… a lobby, promotional, and conference organizing group.


DL: Now that you’re happily stationed at UVA, how do you like living in Virginia? What is your favorite institution to visit for exhibitions?

DF: I have to say the VMFA (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts) in Richmond. I love that museum. They have an amazing permanent collection, host wonderful visiting exhibitions, and have a great team of curators. It’s such an underrated museum, and I don’t think it gets the credit it deserves. I take my classes there whenever I can schedule it.


DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on, or currently go by?

DF: There are no guarantees in the arts. You do this job because you love the research, the writing, and mostly because you love the people involved in it. I feel incredibly lucky to be in this area where every day I’m dealing with students and faculty that simply love thinking and talking about art.