Special Feature: Reflections

Reflections on 2018 by Caitlin Berry

Gallery Director, Washington DC

Hemphill Fine Arts

WFU Class of 2009

Next up in our special ‘Reflections’ series is gallery director Caitlin Berry. This heartfelt recap on 2018 is both inspiring and encouraging. Read on and enjoy!

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2018 has been quite a year. Personally and professionally, I’ve been busier and more fulfilled than ever. I kicked off the year by marrying my best friend and ended it with an inspiring trip to Miami for Art Basel and its satellite fairs. The market itself inflated to epic proportions with the auction of a seminal David Hockney painting that sold for a price approaching $100 million dollars while middle market galleries across the world closed at an astonishing rate. We’ve seen the work of women artists and artists of color come to the fore commercially and curatorially. It feels as though we have arrived at a watershed moment in the art world and I hope that we take a turn for the more supportive and inclusive. No one’s ever accused me of being a pessimist!

In October, I hosted the Wake Forest DC area alumni group, inclusive of Wake Washington’s crop of students from the Art History department, shepherded by Dr. Bernadine Barnes, at Hemphill Fine Arts. Exhibiting artist Renée Stout spoke to the group about her exhibition “When 6 is 9: Visions of a Parallel Universe” which takes viewers on a journey through her world of voodoo and hoodoo, laden with references to African and Caribbean spirituality, music, and the tumultuous political environment in which we find ourselves today.

At year’s end, I joined the board of Greater Reston Art Center, run by the indefatigable Lily Siegel. It is a jewel of an institution in Reston, VA. Their robust programming and cutting edge exhibitions are due in no small part to Lily’s vision and breadth of depth of art historical expertise. I’m excited to see what is on the horizon for this small but mighty organization.

Perhaps more than anything this year, I’ve been struck by the strength of the women in my life from artists to colleagues to friends to family members. Magnifying this sentiment has been my commitment to ArtTable, as co-chair of the Washington, DC Chapter, alongside design dynamo Ruth Abrahams. As a former New Yorker, I was a bit adrift when I landed in DC 5 years ago. Joining ArtTable instantly connected me to the broad network of women arts leaders here in DC and now I consider many of those women my close friends. Particularly now, it is absolutely essential that women bring each other up as they advance professionally and grant access to women from a diverse range of backgrounds. We have everything to gain from each other. The art world is notorious for vaulting men to positions of power at the top of institutions and galleries while women hold the majority of positions in supporting roles beneath them. ArtTable is working tirelessly to provide support and access to women leaders to change this dynamic. I hope to see what people are calling “the year of the woman” turn into the first of many.

-Caitlin

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Spotlight Interview: Alfredo Rodriguez-Allen

Alfredo Rodriguez-Allen: Director

Freelance Filmmaker, Los Angeles CA

WFU Class of 2012

Major: Film, Cinema, Video Studies

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Alfredo Rodriguez-Allen came to Wake Forest to play for its legendary Men’s Soccer team. During undergrad he dove headfirst into another passion of his, film. Now a freelance director in Los Angeles, Alfredo walks us through his path since Wake including the realities of working in the entertainment world and invaluable lessons he’s pick up along his journey thus far.

DeacLink: How are things right now for you in the film industry?

Alfredo Rodriguez-Allen: They’re going very well! I’m on the grind of getting my own work off the ground as a director so it’s exciting. Fortunately, I’m a freelancer so I can take jobs when I need them and work on my personal projects the rest of the time. It’s a lifestyle that suits me because it allows me to go to the beat of my own drum.

DL: What’s your path been like from Winston-Salem to LA?

ARA: At the end of my junior year I knew I wanted to get into film, no question about it. Senior year I began reaching out to virtually anybody and everybody online. I used Craigslist and contacted every single posting for jobs that could guide me to directing movies or commercials in Los Angeles. Finally, a woman, Elda Bravo, replied to me after my relentless bugging, and confirmed that I could work as a PA (production assistant) for her once I graduated. I drove out to LA after graduating and was fortunate enough to crash in a spare room for a couple of months while I got my bearings in the city. My role as a PA for Elda included all sorts of odd tasks, but that’s par for the course in the entertainment racket. During this time I was constantly on the lookout for other side gigs, and was able to be a 2nd AD (assistant director) on a low budget movie, which then led me to a job as a script reader. From there, the person I read scripts for ended up hiring me as a full-time assistant at his talent management agency. I didn’t want to work on the business side, but it was massively helpful to work under him and learn the nuances of that branch of the entertainment industry. Luckily, now I’m making a living off of my own work as a freelancer, but that’s after six years of working for others whilst gaining my footing and stability in the city and in the business.

On my off time, I did a short film and a short documentary of my own. Even though I can’t stand watching the short film these days, it got into the Short Film Corner of the Cannes Film Festival. It was a pivotal moment for me and provided unbelievable exposure. I was surrounded by some of the masters I had idolized since gaining an interest in film, and although I was a part of this prestigious film festival, I realized I had a very long way to go. The experience woke me up to the realities of what it takes to be a great filmmaker and it motivated me to work even harder to pursue this crazy dream of mine! I hit the ground running after that point.

Off the back of the festival, I committed to watching 20 new movies a month, to be a true student of cinema. With streaming services these days, there’s no excuse to not watch movies all the time. I didn’t go to film school, so essentially I am working on a self-taught film education. Learning everything from theory to trade on my own has been essential to my progress toward my objective...and I still have a ways to go. If you ever think you know everything about movies, find an interview with Martin Scorsese and he’ll humble you.

Going back to the timeline; after completing those two projects, I needed to make some dough and wait for the right opportunity to continue my path towards directing. I took a job at a talent agency where I worked for Robert Arakelian, who represents “below the line” talent such as cinematographers, production designers, editors, etc. He was constantly sharing knowledge with me about his clients’ craft and the business behind it. The key to his success is that he cares about the work and that’s why he’s the best in the business. He was and is a true mentor. He added to my business education, which is crucial because you need to know how to sell yourself, your movies, and who to get to champion your work.

Robert then got me the opportunity to serve as understudy to director Fredrik Bond. As far as directing goes, the three primary categories are: film, TV, and commercials, and Fredrik is a living legend in the commercial world. I worked alongside him for three years, which was hands down the best education I could receive in this field. I traveled the world, collaborated with crews from five different continents, was connected to and worked with Oscar winners, and was learning at every turn about all aspects of filmmaking… the entire process from start to finish. I was essentially executing all of these facets myself and that was a massive learning opportunity. It was exhausting and definitely took a toll on me, but the experience set me up to go at it alone. Since April 2018, I’ve been making a living as a freelancer; directing and writing treatments as well as designing them. I’m writing my own narrative scripts and hopefully will be able to realize one of them in the near future.

DL: Congratulations on reaching this point! What is it like working freelance?

ARA: It’s fantastic. As I mentioned, I like working intensely on a job for a few days and then spending time on my own material when I’m not booked. At the moment, most of the jobs I’m getting are as a treatment writer and designer, which is a great way to keep my creative juices pumping. Getting to write and/or design for directors like Fredrik Bond, Martin De Thurah, Rupert Sanders, Harmony Korine and others is amazing. For someone like one of them to call me up and pick my brain by asking, “Hey - what do you know about Brutalist architecture in mid-60s Liverpool?” keeps me on my toes. I’m constantly teaching myself new information from all disciplines of subject matter. Through this I’m able to learn about the different creative processes. If any of these directors’ techniques speak to me, I take them and put them in my toolbox to mesh with my own. After all, as a director, I want and need to find a distinctive voice and style that I can call my own, and in this day and age, it will inevitably be influenced by those that I’ve been hired to work with. It’s great when I’m asked my opinion by these directors because I can confidently express my approach, and at times, I can also flat out disagree with their stance. The ultimate goal is to implement my unique style on my own projects with autonomy but that takes time, and I’m building toward this point little by little, slowly but surely.

DL: Let’s rewind to the Cannes experience. It’s a huge deal to get picked up by the world’s most prestigious film festival! Talk about the application process and the experience of attending.

ARA: To be clear, there are different levels of competition at Cannes. So saying I got into the festival and that’s it, would be misleading. My short film was featured in the student category (despite no longer being a student, technically!). But the application is as simple as uploading your work onto their site and they review it. If they dig what you made, you get invited… and I did. I’m not sure what the odds are but I do feel luck had a role in my selection. I’ve always been a lucky person.

DL: They do say luck is when chance meets opportunity! Either way, well done. So how does treatment writing work? This is your primary task for freelance, right?

ARA: Yes - treatment writing is hard work but it comes naturally to me… it’s so much fun! As a random and generic example, let’s say a massive company like Coca-Cola wants to make a Christmas commercial featuring snowmen. Every company has an ad agency which represents them and creates their campaigns, so Coca-Cola will call their agency describing the sort of campaign they have in mind. From there, the agency will write a deck presenting Coca-Cola with specifics; for example, the snowmen going around the world handing out the drink to everyone. Once Coca-Cola approves the concept, the agency takes their deck to three or four directors asking how they’d do it. If the director engages, they take a call to go over the agency’s deck in detail then turn to the person writing the treatment (that’s where I come in) to break down everything in their vision, from casting to cinematography and music, etc. It’s then my job to synthesize all these aspects into visuals and text, creating a treatment. This has to reflect the director’s voice and vision accurately and can either secure or lose the gig for the director. The treatment goes to the agency who select the most suitable version, and if selected, we proceed in executing the project. Fortunately, I have a good track record from writing treatments, and if you secure one job, another one usually comes from referral down the line. I personally love writing these little stories and doing the research for whatever the project requires - the fact that I get paid for it is super exciting as well!

These cats are some of the best in the business so being able to work for and learn from them is a privilege. It’s also a lot of fun because each director is so different. Fredrik has an eye for humor and fun storytelling that is second to none. Harmony’s approach focuses mainly on underbelly cultures and he has a masterful ability to make people who may be totally different feel relatable. Rupert approaches filmmaking more from the artistic side. He’s an art school grad whose medium is film. He’s an incredibly visual director, and his work is stunning. Martin’s work, meanwhile, is breathtaking, and his versatility and taste are impeccable. It also helps that they’re all really nice and cool dudes.

I love writing treatments because it allows me to continuously learn about each person’s creative process and letting it filter into mine, hoping that it develops into something original.

DL: What would you say impacted you most while studying at Wake? Did you feel prepared for the LA film industry upon graduation?

ARA: I picked up lots, purely from the variety of courses that a liberal arts education offers but also, I was fortunate to study under incredible professors such as Clay Hassler and Peter Brunette. Clay was the sort of teacher who encouraged us to just go out in the world, shoot, and then figure it out. In his course (‘Advanced Media Production’) he emphasized how there was no perfect piece of work, and you can’t be a perfectionist to the point that you hold off on doing something for fear of it not being 100 percent perfect. He didn’t care if 99% of your project was trash. He’d focus on the positive 1% and push you to keep improving. We learned basic shooting and editing skills in this class… not as much theoretical knowledge but the actual know-how and hands-on aspects of film. The theoretical aspects and all that jazz came from Peter Brunette’s classes. He was an absolute wizard when it came to theory. The films we watched in his classes blew my mind.

My process has remained similar to what Clay’s class taught - ‘throw lots at the wall and see what sticks’. I overwrite and over-research, because I believe it’s better to have more than less, and then I sift through the findings and pick out what is best and most relevant for the story, as opposed to finding the bare minimum and trying to make it work from there. People can always tell when your work is contrived.

At Wake, I engaged in a variety of disciplines. I jumped from subject to subject because so many different topics spoke to me, and I used to be insecure about the fact that I couldn’t simply focus my energy on a specific major like most other students. I’d go to the library and see peers with ten books on the same subject. Meanwhile, I had ten books on ten different subjects. Looking back now, I can see how my exploration of different fields only made me a more creative and well-rounded person. Like any other college student, I was immature, ignorant and still figuring life out, so I definitely benefited from my diverse course selection that allowed me to learn about so many topics. I can go back to my notes on Greek and Roman Comedy, or Spanish Poetry, to Economics, to Dance, to Urban Development, to Gender Studies etc., and find something that applies to a job that I may be hired for. What a younger me felt was foolish turned out to be exactly the way I should’ve been learning; gathering information about a lot of different topics that genuinely interested me. I loved that about my Wake education! Also, I have to give a shout out to the ZSR because the film library that they had and hopefully still have is phenomenal. My roommate, Sam Redmond, and I would check out movies all the time, and watching them helped me acquire a wealth of cinematic knowledge outside of class.

In another vein, my stint at Wake was also interesting because I was one of very few Latinos. Since I’ve graduated I’m sure the student body has further diversified, but during my time as an undergraduate, I was able to really embrace my individuality and identity as a Guatemalan and an American, taking pride in both.

As for being prepared for the film industry upon graduation, I’d have to say yes because I’m here now and things are fortunately going well.

DL: What resources would be useful for Wake to offer students aspiring to careers as a director? Did you feel prepared for pursuing this path upon graduation?

ARA: Wake isn’t a film school like NYU Tisch or USC. I knew I wanted to do film but I got recruited to play soccer at Wake which ultimately dictated my final choice of colleges. Although I came in with soccer as a priority, I realized during undergrad that it wasn’t going to be my future. Film took the prime spot from then on, and I dove headfirst into preparing myself before leaving Wake.

I took classes with Peter Brunette, who was a fantastic film critic. When it came to theory and knowledge of film he was unreal. Sadly, he passed away during my junior year, but learning from him was truly inspiring. Luckily, I took classes with Mary Dalton and she was another great teacher on the theoretical side. Above all though, I still think Clay’s teaching impacted me the most, even down to little stuff that helps you get your foot in the door like knowing what a gaffer does, or what to reach for when someone asks for the apple box on set. The hands-on and terminology aspects are crucial when starting out.

Anyway, I can’t fault the University for not having a better production course, because that’s not the kind of school you sign up for if you go to Wake. I learned a lot about film at Wake mainly from my determination to do so. And that’s a life lesson in itself; if you generally want to be successful, then you have to be the person who watched the movie for homework, and then watched three other films to understand that one movie better, and then watched the movie with the director’s commentary after that. Wake certainly does give you the tools, but what you do with those tools is more important than anything!

In the future I would of course love to see Wake bring in new resources like a physical production class, or even offer pop-up style workshops across the year where alumni working in film come back and teach little units. Those could be immensely beneficial and encouraging for students.

DL: How do you get your freelance gigs? Word or mouth, cold calls, applying straight online, other means?

ARA: My first jobs in LA were all Craigslist jobs. I was a real pain. I’d bug people until they gave me the job because I really wanted to work! You have to be persistent at the start and throughout, reaching out to anyone and everyone, and doing a great job when given the opportunity. Eventually it’s morphed to where most of my work comes from the word of mouth circuit. If I do a good job for somebody and was enjoyable to work with, that speaks volumes and can secure further business off referrals. Also, if people straight up just like your work, they’ll call you.

DL: What mantra do you go by, or a kernel of advice you want to impart with the readers?

ARA: Be aware that there’s always someone out there who is more talented and harder working than you. That should motivate you to work incredibly hard and sharpen the tools in your specific craft. If you want to direct, study the directors that speak to you and then study who influenced them...and then study who influenced them. If you want to be a cinematographer, don’t just watch Roger Deakins and Emmanuel Lubezki’s work, go back and learn about Nestor Almendros and Sven Nykvist, as well as Robbie Muller and their predecessors… You have to be a nerd!!

Also, be patient. Patience is an absolute virtue in this field because it’s all about the small victories. It really does take time unless you’re as naturally talented as Paul Thomas Anderson or Lynne Ramsay, and we can’t all be them. Let the small accomplishments sustain you on the path of progress. If you maintain your work ethic and stay patient, you will continue to improve. That being said, never get complacent. I could make a good living for the rest of my life from writing and designing, but my goal is to direct and I will not stop until I reach it. Don’t follow the money, follow the dream. Just be truthful to the way you intuit and head where your stock is high.

Having played soccer my entire life and for the Wake Men’s Soccer team, I often see analogies from the traits, lessons, and virtues I picked up in my sporting career and try to apply them to my filmmaking path. For instance, I’ve met a lot of cats who are way more talented than I am but they eventually quit for some reason or another. Do they love it less than I do? I think so. Then again, love and passion can’t be quantified… but it’s possible that they didn’t have the determination to succeed. You see it in sports all the time: There’s always a wunderkind with all the potential in the world who ultimately develops to nothing, and then the guy who wins the World Cup who was an average talent but worked hard day in and day out, harder than anyone else to become a champion. You have to commit to learning and working as hard as you possibly can to make progress. And you need to create your own luck, even though I admit I’m pretty lucky, I do believe that the better you are, the luckier you get. That being said, I’m well aware that there is no guarantee of success.

Another big thing... Do NOT have an ego. The best way to learn is by listening and allowing yourself to be humbled. At one point I thought I knew everything about everything, and it was detrimental for my development as a director and, more importantly, as a person. I’ve realized that, as the Red Hot Chili Peppers so eloquently put it, “the more I see, the less I know.” The more I learn about specific topics, the more I realize that I know nothing about them… but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to educate myself further. Being humble enough to know that you have much to learn is the only way to truly improve, but that’s a decision you make daily and it requires hard work. On the flip side, I’m fascinated by (and have suffered from) imposter syndrome. It’s the fear of not belonging where you are, even if you’re seeing success in that realm. Even Paul McCartney admitted in a recent interview, that as recently as five years ago he was waiting for someone to just tap his shoulder and say, ‘We’ve got you figured out - you’re a fake and a phony. You don’t belong!’ Don’t let imposter syndrome keep you from pursuing your dream with fervor. You have just as much right to try as anybody. Those who talk down to you are projecting the insecurities they have themselves. I should know because I used to do it… But I’ve learned and will keep on learning.

Last thing about film… If you commit to this life make sure you love it! If you don’t, know that someone else out there loves it more than you do and their odds of succeeding are far higher than yours. That’s guaranteed. Also, don’t join the entertainment business for the glamor. Doing it for the wrong reasons, such as a desire to be famous, is a recipe for disappointment. You may have watched TV shows or movies that romanticize the business, but it’s a tough racket full of twisted people (like any other business). You may think that you’d love to be an actor or a writer or a director, but it’s possible that you’re more in love with the idea of being one of those rather than truly doing it. All of these disciplines require you to pull up your sleeves and get down to the nitty-gritty, often times with no reward. It’s a tough business, no matter what you want to do in it. But I love it.

Spotlight Interview: Sean Wilkinson

Sean Wilkinson: Video + Film

Winston-Salem

WFU Class of 2015
Major: Studio Art
Minor: Biology

Sean Wilkinson came to Wake Forest with a future in medicine in mind. Across his four years of undergrad, his vision transformed entirely. Swapping Studio Art for Bio, Sean developed his skills in many media whilst bringing projects like ‘Forest Folk’ and ‘Inside Out: Wake’ to life on his own time. Now as Assistant Director of Creative Communications, Sean explains his current position and the path that led him there.

 

DeacLink: What are you up to right now?
Sean Wilkinson: I’m currently working at WFU as Assistant Director of Creative Communications in the CER (Communications and External Relations) office. That’s a mouthful but the creative team I work in is essentially Wake’s in-house design agency. My greatest interest in this role is the exposure to many disciplines, working with designers and writers and the digital team has been awesome. I came right in as a ‘Creative Fellow’ after graduating and found myself doing lots of video and photography as I had when I was a student. About 10 months in, the Assistant Director role opened up so I applied and ended up getting the position. My main responsibilities revolve around video and editing... but the nice thing about working in a smaller office is that there are opportunities to pursue your own initiatives, and the team here is receptive to that.


DL: Did you plan to go straight from undergrad to a fellows program?
SW: I was caught up with honors and a side project outside of class during senior year. On top of that, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do after graduating. I stumbled into my final semester asking myself, ‘What am I doing?’ and had considered a grad degree in design but hadn’t researched it properly despite its appeal. April rolled around I was pitched the idea of a year-long contract within the CER office by Hayes Henderson, the director of Creative Communications at the time. I met him my sophomore year through some of my photography and had kept in touch throughout undergrad. The offer was entirely out of nowhere, it was actually a brand new position within the office, and I didn’t have anything else lined up so naturally it seemed pretty ideal as a next step.


DL: You came to Wake wanting to major in Biology. What caused the shift toward Studio Art instead?
SW: Yes, originally I wanted to go to med school and to me that meant either majoring in Biology or Chemistry. I was three-fourths of the way
through pre med classes by the end of sophomore fall but my heart was elsewhere. I remember having a conversation with an upperclassman majoring in Studio herself, who encouraged me to go where the passion was. It was an uncomfortable conversation with my parents for sure, but I had to go in that direction at the time. Looking back, I’m glad that I did.


DL: How much did your studies or Wake in general drive your career path?
SW: I think as far as my studies, majoring in studio art just kept me going and feeling refreshed. Without it I would have never tried printmaking or sculpture installation or bookmaking, and those were some of the coolest classes I took in undergrad. The new mediums and overall immersion in art was great. In terms of career though, the extracurricular work and projects I did outside of class were the most influential for me.
The environment at Wake and more largely in Winston-Salem definitely helped. There were certain things I wanted to do with my friends, collaborations that were made possible by the small size and enthusiasm of the community. In addition I landed an internship that later turned into a part time job with the local film production company Silent R by striking up a conversation on the lower quad. They were walking into Tribble with their crew and immediately I recognized their equipment was a bit more professional than the stuff I was using. I walked up and asked what they were doing on campus and started contact from there. The experience from working with Silent R has transferred directly to the role I’m in now.


DL: As an art student, did you feel prepared for life after graduation?
SW: In my experience there wasn’t much emphasis on careers when I was taking art classes. If I had really expressed interest I think I could’ve pushed that issue with professors in the department... but for whatever reason I didn’t really consider what I was doing in class as career options.
Luckily I met some great mentors, again Wake’s small size helped me find those connections; and as far as getting behind a camera and learning to shoot and edit, I relied on learning on the go and some previous experience from high school art courses.


DL: How do you like living and working in Winston-Salem? Do you have any advice for students wanting to remain there?
SW: One of the best parts about staying here is the cost of living. It’s also cool to see new spaces like Innovation Quarter developing in the downtown area, I think Wake will continue to expand its presence! In
general the atmosphere is progressive.
Wake’s Fellow program in particular is also a unique opportunity for graduates, working in the offices we once benefited from as students and being able to apply 4 years of experience as a Wake student in daily work has been valuable.


DL: What and where is next for you?
SW: I’ve had this new position as Assistant Director for six months now and I’m really focused on that. Grad school is still of interest for me, I’m just going to try and keep an open mind about what’s out there.


DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on, or currently go by?
SW: I’d say have fearlessness when taking on projects and also learning on the fly is super valuable. It’s also fun. Don’t categorize yourself as just one set of skills or say, ‘That’s not part of my job’- I’ve found there are always opportunities pick up unexpected skills and expand yourself as you go.
 

 

Spotlight Interview: Katie Wolf

Katie Wolf: Gallerist

Winston-Salem, NC
         WFU Class of 2013          
Major: Studio Art with Honors
Minor: Art History

Katie Wolf plays a key role in the Wake Forest arts community as Assistant Director of Hanes Art Gallery. However, her impact and involvement isn't limited to the confines of campus. Katie talks us through her current job and all else to do with Winston's burgeoning art scene. 

 

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

Katie Wolf: Currently, I am the Assistant Director of the Hanes Art Gallery at Wake Forest. I have many duties and responsibilities, but my favorite parts of my days are working with my student assistants and other art department majors. I also enjoy the parts of my job that require long-term strategic planning. I am also very proud to be on the board of Art Nouveau (ANWS), a group sponsored by the Arts Council of Winston-Salem to get young people more involved in the arts community.

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

KW: Since graduating in 2013, I was honored to receive a Wake Forest Fellow position as the START Gallery Manager, then I applied for and earned my current position at the Hanes Gallery.

DL: Did you always want to pursue the START fellowship? What steps did you take toward building up for the application throughout undergrad?

KW: I started working at the Hanes Gallery as a student assistant my sophomore year. Through that work, in addition to my classes in the art department, I met the gallery’s current director, Paul Bright, and START’s manager at the time, Marcus Keely. I developed a mentor/mentee relationship with both of them and decided at the end of sophomore year that the fellowship would be a great opportunity. I continued working at Hanes Gallery as well as at The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) part-time and had summer internships in various organizations to build an applicable skill base. I think setting this goal early and developing a long-term plan was crucial to my success.


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

KW: My studies completely informed and drove my path. Although I went to an arts based high school where I studied theater, I never considered studying visual art until my time at Wake Forest. I consider myself to be a product of a liberal arts education – without that kind of variety and flexibility I don’t think I would have found such a passion. I also had the opportunity to study management, which I have applied directly to my career.

DL: Prior to what you’re doing now, what other sorts of jobs have you had? How did you find and apply to them? (Internet career search engines, internal reference, agency, recruitment, Wfu resource, internship)

KW: Before Hanes Gallery and the START Gallery, I worked part-time as a student assistant at Hanes Gallery and at SECCA on the weekends. My summer internships were in the curatorial department at Greenhill Center, the education department at SECCA, and in the collections department at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum in Cleveland. I found and applied for all of those internships online without any personal connections prior.

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

KW: The hardest part was simply to decided that this was it for me. Making a plan, studying, gaining skills and experiences, networking, and applying are all wonderfully fulfilling. It was the choice itself and the confidence to be comfortable with that choice was the hardest part.

DL: How did you like living and working in Winston-Salem?  How does your current experience compare to the time you spent as a student in the city?

KW: Winston-Salem is an awesome place to live and a totally different city to the one I vaguely knew of as a student. As a board member of ANWS and a volunteer for the Arts Council I’ve been able to work with many young and enthusiastic artists and patrons in the city, and I am proud of and excited for the future of this place. As a student within a talented and motivated peer group, it’s easy to think that the only measure of success is in New York, Chicago, or Atlanta. However, the cost of living here is unbelievable low (my rent is $396 a month), and that has afforded me a stable financial life. To already have savings, investments, and a retirement plan at 25 will give me more options and flexibility throughout my career. Of course, those are all things I didn’t consider as a student so I am happy to have somewhat fallen into those benefits and opportunities.

DL: What has surprised you the most about the art scene in W-S? Do you have any advice for students wanting to move/remain there?

KW: If you’re bored in Winston-Salem then it’s your own fault. I just looked at my calendar and this week alone I have two public lectures, a concert, a museum exhibition walkthrough and two dinners with people I met outside of the Wake Forest community. There are tons of people really working to make this place better, and there are many ways to get involved yourself. Being intentional and present is important anywhere you end up, but it’s easy to do in Winston-Salem.


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

KW: Being decisive, diligent, and present are the most important qualities to cultivate.