Spotlight Interview: Bradley Singleton

Bradley Singleton: Associate Producer, Early Today and MSNBC News

New York City

WFU Class of 2017

Major: Communication and Media Studies

Minor: Journalism

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When Bradley Singleton received an offer at NBC, he packed his bags and moved to New York within that month! We interviewed Bradley about this transition and working at NBC.

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

Bradley Singleton: At Wake, I studied Communication with a concentration in Media Studies and a minor in Journalism. After I graduated in 2017, I stayed in Winston Salem for the summer and worked at the Intercultural Center doing communication and social media work. My next position was at the Wake Forest Office of Diversity and Inclusion as a communication specialist, where I worked the following fall. This was a very creative position, and I focused on social media campaigns, communication strategies, and worked overall to broaden the office’s outreach. I was applying for jobs while working at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and around the end of October I landed two interviews at NBC. I received an offer shortly after these interviews, and within a month I had packed my bags, moved to New York, and begun a job as a production assistant at the Early Today Show at MSNBC!

DL: Can you talk a little about working for the Early Today Show?

BS: I was recruited as a part of the YOH Program at NBC. NBC likes to give new employees who are recent college graduates the chance to explore the company and the news industry by rotating shows and positions until we find our niche. Through this program I happened to be assigned to the Early Today Show on a very small team, which I enjoy because I get a very hands-on experience. For my first three months at the Early Today Show I was a Graphics PA, where I worked as a liaison between the producers and the artists who make the visuals for the show. I knew, however, that I wanted to eventually transition into a writing role, and so I tried to perfect my writing skills by working on scripts on the side. I studied the show to see what I could contribute to make a positive impact and noticed that there was a lack of sports/entertainment. I sent my sample scripts to my producer, and eventually was assigned some small stories! I worked non-stop and those story assignments started multiplying and becoming more serious. Now I work as a sports writer for the show and write breaking news stories.

DL: What is your favorite part about working at the Early Today Show?

BS: At the Early Today Show I am able to give voices to people who wouldn’t necessarily get the attention that they deserve, which is really powerful and rewarding. I also really enjoy writing about sports as well! I feel that I bring a certain trendy vernacular that the show has begun to use and embrace.

DL: How did your studies and general experience at Wake Forest drive your career path and affect your current position?

BS: The most important thing that I learned at Wake was the ability to write – for sure. The Journalism department in particular taught me the fundamentals and drove home the importance of writing. I also learned how to work with hard deadlines and how to juggle multiple projects at once. There are days in my current position where I have to write 6-7 stories in three hours, and I feel calm and confident doing so because of my time at Wake. On top that, I think that Wake gives you a certain confidence and swag that is unmatched. You know that you can handle whatever is coming at you, and you know that you can outwork the next person. The naturally competitive environment and mindset that you develop at Wake sticks with you and encourages you to always do something extra to set yourself apart.

DL: On the other hand, what do you think that Wake could have done better to prepare its students for life after graduation?

BS: Sometimes I felt that there was a certain passiveness to the Communication department. The classes within the department taught rhetoric, science and theory, but I was craving more out of the department. I wanted to learn some more practical skills, like how to work a camera. I ended up having to teach myself a lot of the fine skills and the language of the industry when I was on the job. I would love to see the department grow and serve students who want to do something outside of the norm, but don’t have the same opportunities as their peers.

DL: Can you talk to me about your experiences finding and applying to the various positions you have held?

BS: I held quite a few internships – paid and unpaid – during my time at Wake Forest. I’m from South Carolina, so my first position was at a local station in Columbia, South Carolina. My experience there helped me get a paid position at a local station the next summer, where I got a more hands-on experience and was able to practice my craft. On campus I worked at Wake Radio and Wake TV and was able to then get an internship at a radio station in my hometown the following summer. Networking was really essential in getting my position at NBC. The Director of Talent Recruitment was from my hometown, and I was able to meet him through the girlfriend of a family friend! I built a relationship with him during my early years at Wake and worked hard to continue networking and maintaining that relationship throughout college. When I graduated, he put my resume into a smaller, company pool and definitely played a role in getting my application seen.

DL: What is your favorite part about living in New York?

BS: Living in New York City is like being on a vacation every day! It is such a dope place to live and work. You can travel two train stops away and emerge into a whole new world. There are so many types of people and so many places to explore…. it’s an adventure every time you step outside your door. And in terms of the arts, there are so many opportunities here all condensed into one small area!

DL: What is next for you in your career?

BS: I see myself staying at NBC for a while and exploring some of the other shows. I want to try to do something on air at some point, and I can see myself maybe becoming a producer down the line. I can also see myself moving into the digital sphere, which is an area that is always changing and growing.

DL: What is one piece of advice that you wish you had been told as a student interested in pursuing a career in media?

BS: Learn how to write!! Know the fundamentals of writing and always work to perfect that skill. Also, be independent. Learn how to do stuff on your own and be proactive. Always look to make someone else’s job easier – it will pay off in the long run. If you are a senior heading towards graduation, don’t get stressed out if you don’t have a job quite yet. Positions in media are always opening and closing, and you’ll get there! And lastly, don’t let anyone deter you from your dream career. A lot of times at Wake, I felt that other people were trying to influence and change my career path. Follow your passion, and don’t allow people to try and push you towards a more “traditional” job.

Spotlight Interview: Phil Archer

Phil Archer: Program & Interpretation Director, Reynolda House

Winston-Salem, NC
WFU Class of 1995
Major: English
Minor: Philosophy

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Phil Archer speaks to us from Reynolda House, where he serves as Director of Program & Interpretation. Although he joined the museum immediately after graduation, Phil did break up his undergrad experience to live in Australia for a spell. We asked him to regale us with the story of his journey at and after Wake.

 

DeacLink: Tell us about your current role at Reynolda House, and what it entails.

Phil Archer: The title is the Betsy Main Babcock Director of Program and Interpretation. It’s a lot to say, and actually Tava Smiley while interviewing on her show said, ‘You Wake Forest people need to shorten your titles!’ My position is endowed with a gift from the Babcock family, hence the name.

I supervise the exhibitions that the museum presents, and the way we tell stories based on American art and the historic site. It’s a hybrid museum which tell both stories side by side to a diverse range of audiences. This can span from the general public to school groups, to our university audience and more. 

DL: How did you come to this position since leaving wake?

PA: I technically went straight into a job with Reynolda House upon graduating. Although I entered as part of the class of ‘95, my family moved to Melbourne, Australia midway through undergrad. I chose to take time off and make the most of that opportunity, coming back to graduate in 2003. 

I had a brief stopover working in the campus bookstore before the Reynolda House position, which is common among English majors. I had a former professor and mentor Edwin Wilson, who was on the board of the museum and also knew Nick Bragg (WFU ‘58). They knew a lot of what I did extracurricularly could translate and continue in a museum setting a Reynolda House, and that I wanted to keep learning and be productive. I started in a different role but soon got into public programming presenting poets, musical performances, and theater at Reynolda. 

I also did a graduate degree in management at Wake’s business school which was very useful for me. Another important mentor in this time was John Anderson, Calloway’s vice president for finance and administration. He said that although I wanted to do non profit, the managerial training would be largely beneficial. I completed that degree in 2006 and moved from public programs into the director of the division in 2016, so my current role is still very new to me.

DL: What changes have you seen take place since coming on board at Reynolda?

PA: The biggest project I worked on was our expansion, with the addition of Babcock Wing which opened in 2005. We didn’t have a head curator at the time and I was appointed by the board and John Anderson to be the owners’ rep for the museum on that project. For a few years I worked with the architects in New York and the contractors in Winston, liaising between staff, board members and builders. I had to ensure everyone’s dreams for the building and its various educational and program spaces came true. 

Since the expansion we’ve been bringing in exhibitions from large metropolitan scale institutions, like the recent Georgia O’Keeffe show. We had to get creative with our space constraints, and presented the 190 objects throughout the rooms of the historic house. It broke every crowd visitation record which was really positive. The size of exhibitions we can bring in or generate ourselves has changed which is really exciting.

Lastly, a big change that’s still happening has been uniting the garden, village and house in their storytelling. For the visitor from Ohio passing through on her way down to Myrtle Beach, we want the story to be a single piece as she goes throughout. There’s more unity around visitor experience now, and the interpretation of the history makes the village a place that isn’t just pretty, but somewhere you can still learn from while having lunch, for example.

DL: How did your time as a Wake undergrad shape or drive your career path?

PA: I was very active extracurricularly, so my time creating projects and events with classmates and mentors was very influential. A group of us students revived this 19th-century debate society under the leadership of Joy Goodwin, forming an interdisciplinary arts club. We had film screenings, festivals, readings, and created a journal for essays and creative writing. I also worked on Wake’s student magazine and helped with a humor mag called ‘Jambalaya’.  

I was also part of a group who started this house on Polo Road which was a pretty special place. We had cookouts, living room concerts, painted murals on the walls and built treehouses. Interestingly it wasn’t all arts majors- for some reason a lot of biology majors! It sort of balanced their lives between schoolwork and home life, and gave us this creative environment to live in together. We had a slightly bohemian existence but of course kept up with our homework, too.

DL: What is the creative and cultural scene like in Winston right now?

PA: The repurposing of the old factory buildings downtown is really exciting. Innovation Quarter and Wake’s downtown campus are adding a lot to the area. Seeing all of these reclaimed buildings and the park spaces in between, you get the feeling it’ll lead to more restaurants and galleries which are both blossoming scenes already. We lost some performance spaces downtown but with the incoming student presence and the professors on campus, this aspect will make a resurgence as well.

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

PA: There’s an Eleanor Roosevelt quote that goes, ‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams’. I think this applies to so many different things. We are all susceptible to the contagion of others’ enthusiasm… we all have our own dreams. So instead of trying to convince others to share theirs, just believe in your own and through that it might inspire others to follow suit. You have to make your fascination contagious to other people.

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 Interview: Kate Miles

Kate Miles: Interior Designer

Charleston, South Carolina

WFU Class of 2007

Major: Art History

Minor: Sociology

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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

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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.

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 usajobs.com 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.

Spotlight Interview: Rudy Shepherd

Rudy Shepherd: Artist & Educator

New York City

Assistant Professor, Penn State University School of Visual Arts
WFU Class of 1998
Double Major: Studio Art & Biology

Rudy Shepherd completed a double major in Studio Art and Biology in his time at Wake Forest. Since graduation, Rudy has established himself as both an artist in New York and an educator in Pennsylvania (which is no easy feat). We recently asked Rudy about his journey since WFU, and what it takes to find balance as a practicing artist.

DeacLink: What are you up to right now?

Rudy Shepherd: I am a professor at Penn State University’s School of Visual Arts. I’ve been here since 2010, and just got tenure in 2016.


DL: Congratulations! Walk us through your path to this position since leaving WFU.

RS: I majored in Biology at Wake, and spent my first year out of undergrad doing research in Winston-Salem at a dialysis center. During this time I was researching and applying to grad school programs, and using the facilities at Scales to compile a portfolio with the help of John Pickel. 

I got into the MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a full scholarship for sculpture, and spent two amazing years there. While I was in Chicago I applied to residencies in New York and was accepted into the PS1 Contemporary Art Center’s artist in residence program. I was given studio space for a year in downtown Manhattan’s Clocktower Building. Across that year I had to piece together making work and making money, which was tough. I’d have open studios and visits to meet people.. I also worked at Starbucks, and did tours at MoMA and PS1. This was actually the year that I came into contact with Mixed Greens gallery, through fellow Wake alum Mary Leigh Cherry. She was in town from LA and brought the MG people along for a studio visit. 

After the PS1 residency I was hired by a non profit which placed artists in public schools to teach art. I taught Pre-K through 3rd grade for two years which was a definite challenge- I had no previous experience or training. Next I joined another non profit, working as the Operations Coordinator at The Drawing Center. The five years I spent there was great for building up a network and being known in the community; by working in the arts I met a ton of people like artists and curators, was at every opening, doing the installation of each show. 

During my time at both jobs I was making art, having shows, and developing my own practice. I was still having meetings with Mixed Greens approximately a year and a half since the first meeting via Mary. It took time to get to know one another, but the relationship was long-lived from that point. I had shows with them for 14 years until they closed in 2016. It was a good run, and by this juncture I was ready to go another direction.

My ultimate goal was to be a college professor, because it was a more reasonable and balanced way to maintain my artistic practice whilst working full time. I started adjunct teaching and then got a job at the Parsons School of Design as an academic advisor. I spent two years there, and kept making art and teaching at other places at the same time.

When the Penn State job came up, having The Drawing Center and Parsons on my CV proved very useful. The actual artwork I was producing was a factor as well. I’ve been at Penn State for seven years now and it’s been the perfect marriage of teaching and producing work. After working as much as I have explained, like three jobs at once and still trying to make art, this position allows me to balance work and artmaking so that neither is battling the other for precedent. I thrive with the extra time I have.. I can apply for grants, get the summertime off, and step back periodically to reflect and examine the work I’ve done in depth.

DL: Were you set on being an artist throughout undergrad? You double-majored in Studio and Biology…

RS: Coming into Wake I had zero designs of making art; I hadn’t even done it in high school!  I was three years into the Bio/pre-Med track before I took my first art classes. I took Dave Finn’s class my junior year and a lightbulb went off- I was like, ‘This is awesome’. Compared to the hours of cramming biology notes at the library and regurgitating information, the critiques and open discussion in art classes were incredible. I loved having an individual voice.

DL: There can be pressure for Wake students to complete majors like Biology or Business; were your parents supportive of your sudden switch to a Studio focus?

RS: They were supportive because they saw how passionate I was about it. Of course it was worrisome to leave a track that’s so well paid career-wise, to jump into the void and just go for it. 

I’d also say I got off to a pretty good start as far as artmaking and understanding that process, what it’s about. Prior to taking that class with Dave, I thought art was purely about skill and making pretty pictures. I learned it could be about something entirely different, like dealing with issues of the day and communicating with people. The small size of the art program at Wake was great because the professors were able to directly play roles in the development of my artistic direction. They were incredibly supportive. It was also great that Wake’s format requires all students to study different subjects- religion, history, science.. All of that made me more well rounded than if I had attended an art school for undergrad. The theoretical backgrounding was added during my time obtaining the MFA.

DL: How did you locate and apply to all of the various jobs, programs and residencies you’ve obtained?

RS: When I graduated in 1998 there was an internet, but things weren’t online the way they are now. For me it was teacher’s recommendations, library research and hearing things from other people. The advantage to word of mouth or inside rec’s is that they’re already vetted; for instance I tell my students, don’t apply to be in shows that require you to pay a fee. That’s a business model, not a show you want to be part of.

DL: What other advice have you got for students aspiring to be an artist in NYC?

RS: Come to town with something to do and get involved in. Showing up empty handed can be pretty tough. If you arrive for a residency or job… even an unpaid internship, you have a starting point. It begins with small things like these, and you’ll be hustling around, meeting people and forging connections with your peers who will then invite you to things, get to know you. However, the key is to juggle all that whilst still making your work. It all comes down to keeping your work at the forefront. If you meet Mary Boone and she asks to see your website, you’ll obviously want to have something to show her. 

DL: So if you could boil this down into a mantra for the readers, what would it be?

RS: The main point: stay on your game and keep the faith! There will be times when you’re making your work and wondering if it’ll come to anything, if you’ll ever get to show it to someone. If you put in the work everyday and keep the faith the right moment will come along and you’ll be ready.
 

 

Check out Rudy's artist website here

 

Spotlight Interview: Thaddeus Stephens

Thaddeus Stephens: Artist & Entrepreneur

New York City

Founder, Brady Brothers Lumber
WFU Class of 2010
Double Major: Studio Art & Economics

Artist and entrepreneur Thaddeus Stephens is a true hustler, having developed myriad skills across his time at and after Wake Forest. Currently running his own business in Brooklyn, Thad was kind enough to walk us through his story and impart some very good advice.

 

DeacLink: What are you up to right now?

Thaddeus Stephens: I work in fabrication making custom products in wood, metal, glass, plastics and whatever other materials are needed. I also have my own small business (Brady Brothers Lumber) making sculpturally inspired bags and home goods mainly from leather and textiles. Finally, I try to make sculptures and collages, when there is time left over.

DL: Take us through your journey from Wake to where you are now.

TS: I worked in restaurants both during and after my time at Wake Forest doing everything from cooking on the line to tending bar and waiting tables. Having that kind of experience gave me confidence in my ability to find work wherever I decided to go; there are restaurants everywhere. I bounced around a little bit and ended up in NYC. I got tired of working nights and weekends and decided that I didn’t want to stay in the restaurant business. I got some event production/set building work, did a little art handling, and ended up going to work in custom fabrication. I worked making custom designed chandeliers and lighting for about three years learning brass, aluminum,and glass skills. I just recently moved to a larger production shop. I want to continue making custom furniture and high end products but this current shop is a good place for me to get experience on some bigger tools and CNC tools that I have never used before. 


DL: Who was your primary mentor/influencing professor while at WFU? 

TS: Leigh Ann Hallberg, Paul Bright, and John Pickel. I’m still close with them and we always manage to get together when they’re in the city.


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

TS: The art department taught me how to put a design into action and how to design an object, sculptural or otherwise, intentionally. 


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

TS: Wake arts could emphasis the the need to become an expert in hard skills that can be applied outside of an artistic context. Making art is great but you also need to pay the bills! For example, if I had concentrated on becoming a journeyman level carpenter while I had unlimited access to a great shop at Wake, it would have been easier to find work after I left. The same could be applied to things like photography and Photoshop. If students get really good at one of these things then they’ll have some skills to shop around. It’s a lot easier to find work if you can say and show that you are a Photoshop wizard, or a technically expert photographer who can shoot weddings, for example.

DL: How have you found and applied to the jobs you've had? 

TS: I have mostly found jobs through the internet (NYFA, Craigslist) and people I know. A lot of the stuff I do is gig based and you can find your way in through freelance or temporary positions. 


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

TS: Having the hard skills to shop around. You can BS all you want to in an interview but if you get in the shop and can’t do what you have said you can it is apparent pretty quickly. 

 

DL: How did you like living and working in NYC? Do you find it conducive to your larger goals?

TS: I don’t want to live anywhere else. Living is hard here and you have to get tough but it’s exactly where I want to live, work, and raise a kid. It’s a city of hustlers, everyone is working hard and getting things done. 

 

DL: What has surprised you the most about the art scene in NYC? Do you have any advice for students wanting to move to move there?

TS: For people who want to move here: just do it. Get a couple thousand dollars together, find an apartment with a hundred roommates, and just move. You’ll be able to find work right away. It might not be exactly what you want to be doing but you can find a way to pay the bills while you get your feet on the ground. 


DL: What and where is next for you? 

TS: Staying in New York, working, and raising a baby. 


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

TS: I think Wake students often obsess over getting a “Job” as an almost mystical end unto itself. Don’t worry so much! Also don’t get scared away from doing what you want to do by parents or anyone else who are worried that it’s not a “stable career path.” You’re an adult and if you’re a capable, competent person you can land on your feet. If you’re already making compromises for the stake of stability at age 22, it’s not going to be any easier to do what you really want to at age 32. Just try to figure out how you want to live life and concentrate more on that and less on a stable income. Competence will out!
 

Spotlight Interview: Adelaide Knott

Adelaide Knott: Entrepreneur

Edinburgh, Scotland

Founder & Florist, ASG Flowers
WFU Class of 2012
Major: Studio Art
Minor: Art History

Adelaide Knott was part of the WFU Women's Field Hockey team and majored in Studio Art- a unique combination for her four years at the Forest. Coming away from the START Gallery fellowship and a gallery role in Edinburgh, Adelaide realised her true passion for hands-on creation. Now two seasons into her own floristry business, Knott speaks on her path since Scales.

DeacLink: What are you up to these days?

Adelaide Knott: I’m currently a self-employed florist working out of a studio in Edinburgh. As we speak I’m in Perthshire at my parent’s house, growing flowers. It’s a real advantage to have the space and affordability here, plus if I’m out meeting clients my parents pitch in with the watering. Depending on what’s required, I’ll be in either Edinburgh or Perthshire. I move back and forth.

This is the second full season of my floristry business, and it’s a lot to balance but very rewarding. I employ freelance florists for events, and I grow my own flowers. 

DL: What’s is like working for yourself? 

AK: It can be scary! The key is ensuring the time I spend working can cover all costs, after which I can pay myself. There’s no paycheck at the end of each month, it’s touch and go. So it’s a different way and pattern of work. Creating prices and compiling quotes can also be tough, but with each new project you find your way. 

DL: To go from the START fellowship to floristry is a jump! Tell us how you arrived at this point.

AK: My year in START Gallery was crucial in laying the foundations for my understanding of running my own business. I learned so much about marketing, social media, pricing, and client relations. I realized how important it is to build a real relationship with clients, to earn their trust- you never know when a connection will come in handy. 

While at START my favorite aspects were the physical tasks- installations, painting walls, hanging the space, and so forth. Particularly, my experience with installation comes into play now with my floristry. 

After START I took a year off to travel. I did a road trip across the US, followed by time back in Scotland before finishing in South America. This time off allowed me to mentally reset and realize what I truly wanted to do next.

I went back into a gallery job after travelling, but I wasn’t getting much out of it. Unlike START, this position wasn’t hands-on. I was essentially a PA to the gallery director, and although I learned a lot about traditional Scottish painting, my heart wasn’t in it. I began applying to other galleries but ultimately decided to go a new direction.

I started doing work experience with a local florist, and after time took the plunge into a short course in Bath called Tallulah Rose Career Changing Course in Floristry. There I was able to develop business skills and launch the service I provide now. The majority of my bookings are weddings, which is great because you can have a direct impact on the special day of your client. 

DL: Was it difficult breaking into the floristry scene? How did you manage to get those first key bookings?

AK: My website and Instagram were pivotal during the launch, and are still vital to my business now. Half the battle is appearing professional and leveraging your online network to announce your presence and business. I was lucky to have a friend give their advice and help on my own website, and I can say it’s definitely important to know and use every resource at your fingertips. Still now though, it’s all trial and error, you have to go with the flow, learn from your mistakes, and not be too hard on yourself.

To survive in this industry, it’s very important to build trusting relationships with your clients. Keeping them informed about every single detail and explaining each charge on your quote will build trust between parties. If you can realize what your time is worth and convey it to the client, that confidence is powerful.

DL: How do you like being back in Edinburgh? Do you have any pointers for students looking to live and work there?

AK: Edinburgh is a great city because it has a small-town feel. The Highlands are close by, so you can get out of the city for outdoorsy activities very easily. Of course, my family is here so I was keen to be near them again. There are also plenty of rural areas offering that creative spark for those interested in crafting and workshops. My friends recently did a pottery class where you can learn to throw on a wheel. 

DL: What’s the art scene like in Edinburgh?

AK: There’s an interesting mix in the city, including a National and Portrait Museum plus a number of contemporary galleries. It’s a competitive gallery scene for sure. Creative Scotland is the primary governing body for funds for galleries and creative projects in Scotland, so students interested in working here should check their website for internship and job opportunities. They have a regularly updated bulletin.  We’ve also got an annual arts festival in August, including written and spoken word, the performing arts and visual art. The entire town-from the pubs to restaurants and hotels- is taken over by performances like comedy, acting and poetry. Alongside the performing arts there is the Edinburgh Art Festival and another really cool project is Hidden Door, this happens almost every year in in May.There are plenty of job opportunities and volunteering here in Edinburgh. 

DL: Sounds fantastic! Looking back, did you feel prepared for the ‘real world’ coming out of Wake?

AK: My undergrad experience didn’t set me up for running my own business, although it definitely did plant a seed for me to realize my creative passions. The START fellowship was the most useful for building an understanding of how businesses work, but you still can’t fully simulate the amount of responsibility that life after graduation brings, in the university environment. 

DL: What kernel of advice would you like to pass on to the readers?

AK: Be open to others’ advice, and take on as much as you can. Don’t stress over the little things, because they’re all just stepping stones in the bigger picture. Things have a way of working out. Avoid comparing yourself to others, and embrace your own creativity.
 

Spotlight Interview: Abby Bauman

Abby Bauman: Former Proposals Writer

New York City

Former Writer for Proposals Department, Christie’s New York
WFU Class of 2009
Major: Art History
Double Minor: Economics & Studio Art

Abby Bauman has enjoyed a winding path since graduating in 2009. Starting in PR, on to a development role at DC's National Gallery of Art, and joining Christie's New York in 2012, Abby reflects on her journey and shares the advice she's gathered along the way.

*At the time of the interview, Abby was based in New York. She’s since moved to San Francisco and is a Marketing Specialist for Gensler.

DeacLink: What did you study at Wake? How has your career unfolded since?
Abby Bauman: At Wake, I was an Art History major with minors in Economics and Studio Art. I hadn’t really taken any art history classes before my 20th century art history class, but then became very interested in pursuing it further. 
 
In school, I interned at the Reynolda House with Kathleen Hutton in the Education department. I also did an internship at the Morgan Library in New York before my senior year, which I found through networking. 

I graduated in 2009, right after the economy crashed, so I had a difficult time finding roles in the art world. I wanted to get experience outside of the art world so I interned at a PR firm in Maryland, where I wrote press releases and media alerts. I later moved to DC and interned at a bigger PR firm called Fleishman Hillard. Soon after I started, I was offered a position in the Development Department at the National Gallery of Art in February 2010- my dream job!

At the NGA, I was a development assistant in the membership group and later transitioned into organizing events for the membership group. I learned so much about being a professional, and being surrounded by such smart, academic people was inspiring. I worked there for a little under three years.

In the summer of 2012 I started networking in NYC and was able to connect with a few people at Christie’s. One thing led to another and I landed my current role in the Proposals Department, where I’ve been since October 2012.
 
DL: Would you mind telling me about what you're doing at Christie’s?
AB: I have been in the same department since I joined - I work in the proposals department, which falls under the marketing umbrella. My team does business development. We work with specialists and other “business getters” to put together formal pitch documents to try and persuade people to consign their property with Christie’s. My department becomes involved when a piece of business is very valuable and competitive with another auction house or dealer. I started as a Junior Proposals Writer and now I am a Writer. I put together extensive proposal documents, presentations for pitch meetings and do basic tasks like formatting letters when timing is tight. And we do projects on a bigger scale for big pitches, like bespoke boxes. Because our business is art, design is so important. The presentations we make are beautiful. Sometimes we have crazy quick turnarounds or we have month to work on a project. We are often pitching to estates or to individual clients, and we do this for jewelry, furniture, art, etc. We work with every art specialist department at Christie’s. Every day and client is different... It is really exciting and very fast paced.
 
DL: How much did your time at Wake inform your career path?
AB: Once I started hitting the ground running with my major, I knew this was something I was interested in and excited by. I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life. However, in college, I was mostly focused on how to do well in school. The longer I was involved in my art history classes, the more I came to realize I could turn my interest into a career.

Senior year I was fortunate to be a part of the art buying trip, and that introduced me to the gallery world. I was able to see the sorts of art world jobs that were possible, whereas before it was much more vague in my mind. In retrospect I wish I had thought a bit harder about how the art world was impacted by the economic downturn while I was on the buying trip. But regardless, I was interested in the business side of the arts, and I felt like there was so much to be learned. In school I didn’t seriously consider going to graduate school right away but thought it could happen down the line.
 
DL:  What do you think is the hardest part about breaking into the auction house world?
AB: Auction houses are a relatively small industry, with only a few major international players, which means that positions at every level are highly sought-after and very competitive. 
 
I remember reaching out to galleries and not necessarily knowing how to communicate with people in the art world. It’s pretty intimidating. I didn’t break into the commercial side of the art world when I first graduated, and it was so hard to make headway. Getting someone to respond to you is just really hard. Because of that, my best advice is to network. That’s the only way I found any of my jobs. When networking, you need to be persistent and gracious. Remember that the people you contact are taking time out of their schedule to talk to you. Also, be humble about what you want. And always follow-up with a thank you note!
 
DL: Do the auction house masters programs help you get jobs with the institution after graduation?
AB: I don’t think it can hurt. From my own experience, I found that I was able to learn everything on the job. That’s not to say it wouldn’t have been useful. The masters programs certainly help, but it’s not necessary for many entry-level roles. However, if your end goal is to become a specialist, a master’s degree at some point is likely necessary. 
 
DL:  What advice do you have for students considering a move to New York?
AB: Really focus on cultivating the relationships you have. Networking is hard, but it is so important. I think that New York can be very overwhelming. Because of that, make sure you are ready to hustle. Develop a strong network of people, and put your head down and be ready to really focus on your job. In New York, everyone in every industry works long hours. Also, it is pretty expensive, so make sure you are okay with eating pasta. It gets better though!
 
DL: What do you think Wake arts could do to better prepare students for life after graduation?
AB: From what I can see, I think that Wake is already doing a much better job. Between the different treks and the buying trip – these experiences really open peoples’ eyes. When I was there, I didn’t feel like I had a great sense of what kinds of jobs were possible for an art history major. But in recent years I’ve been very impressed with all of the efforts WFU has gone to to encourage students to learn about potential career paths. 
 
Also, resumes you submit for art jobs are different than what you prepare in business school. We work in a visually focused business, so it means something to have the awareness to do that with the materials you submit. That’s one bit of advice I didn’t get while I was there. Lastly, the art world is small, and the school should help more with making introductions to alums, but now we have DeacLink!
 
DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on to current students and recent alums?
AB: I wish I had taken the time to get to know my professors better. Current students shouldn’t be afraid to meet with professors and show engagement and interest. The professors know so much and will help and be there for you. They know a lot about the art world. That is a huge thing. With that in mind, it’s also important to stay in touch with your professors and fellow students. They will be a good resource.
 
Also, I really didn’t start doing this until the buying trip, but stay engaged with what’s going on in art world. Make sure you know about the big gallery and museum shows. You can do this by reading the big art world publications. As an applicant, you will be quite impressive if you know what’s going on in New York all of the way from North Carolina.
 
DL: What's next for you?
AB: Christie’s has been a great place for me, and I’d love to stay here for a while. However, I absolutely would love to spend some time abroad. That has always been a goal of mine. Maybe London? I think my interest to continue to lie in business development. Right now, I am not in a client facing role, but instead work in an internal department. As the art market evolves, so do my interests, but I think I will stay in the art world in some capacity throughout my career.
 

Spotlight Interview: William Crow

William Crow: Former Managing Educator

New York

Former Managing Museum Educator, Metropolitan Museum of Art
WFU Class of 1995
Double Major: Studio Art & Spanish

At the time of the interview, William was based in New York and working at the Metropolitan Museum. Since then, he has moved to Pennsylvania and is currently the Director of the Lehigh University Art Galleries.

DeacLink: You were a studio art major at Wake. How has your career unfolded since?

William Crow: I was a Studio Art and Spanish double major, and it has been a winding road to get to where I am today. It has been one that really draws upon the different experiences I’ve had. My senior year at Wake there was an artist in residence working on a project at SECCA. I got to know her and her work, and she was based in New York. I knew I wanted to pursue art as a career, and she invited me to be her assistant in the City after graduation. She also recommended I apply for role as a Site Supervisor for Creative Time.

I moved to New York the summer after graduation. The experience exposed me to contemporary artists, and I really learned what it is like to make art and be engaged with others around the making of art, curating and mounting exhibitions. I learned the logistical details in addition to the physical creation. It was a great experience. 

Parallel to that, I also knew that I was really interested in exploring some kind of teaching. I had a sensibility for working with young people, and I wanted to pursue an education line of work along with an art practice. I took a job at an all boys independent school where I taught AP Art History, Studio Art and Spanish. I was able to access skills that I had learned and studied at Wake, but in an independent setting. The school was part of a Benedictine monastery, and I lived on campus. I learned a lot about teaching in addition to learning more about myself and my own interests. The entire time, I continued my own creative practice. 

I taught for a few years, but then went to Hunter College/CUNY to get my MFA in painting. It was a great opportunity to dive in and immerse myself in my artistic practice. I learned what it would take to break into the art scene in New York. My studio space was near Times Square, and it was walking distance to the Chelsea galleries. I built on connections I had made with other artists. I quickly learned that being an artist as a professional career path was not what I wanted to do. In addition to lots of long, hard hours in your studio, you also have to market yourself and engage in the the business of art and getting gallery representation. I had solo and group exhibitions, but I wasn’t as interested in the marketing piece of myself as an artist. 

Then I realized I wanted to pursue another teaching route. Fortuitously I had this teaching background at the school, but then a neighbor of mine suggested I consider teaching in the informal learning environment of museums. She had experience teaching as a freelance educator in a museum. So I started teaching in the Morgan Library. I worked mostly with school groups and connecting the Morgan’s collection to school based curriculum. 

I also started doing freelance work as an educator at the Met. I started in teaching programs for families on weekends. That quickly expanded to teaching access programs, and programs for teachers. I did that from 1999-2003. My main work was as a freelance educator across programs at the Met and Morgan Library, meanwhile continuing my artistic practice and holding artist residencies. I had a residency in World Trade Tower 1, which ended in the summer of 2001. In 2003, a full time position became available at the Met overseeing school programs. I took the position, and I have been at the Met since. I have gradually moved into positions of greater responsibility with different audiences. I now oversee Teaching and Learning, covering audiences ranging from newborns to families and teens to graduate students. I also am responsible for teaching practice across all audience areas. I am surrounded by people engaging with and asking questions about art. I immensely enjoy finding ways to make art relevant to their lives in different ways. I am constantly thinking through how to engage a wide variety of learners. I also do some university teaching. I am an adjunct professor at NYU in their M.A. Museum Studies program. I also teach online in the M.A. Program in Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins.

I did end up going back to grad school again--twice actually--after earning my MFA. As I learned more about the field of museum education, I realized that it is a profession in its own right, and I wanted to learn more about museum management and education theory. I earned my masters in Leadership in Museum Education at Bank Street College. I also wanted to learn more about empirical research methods as they relate to museums and how we can utilize the tools of social science to improve visitors’ learning experiences. Over the last decade there has been an embrace of empirical research methods in museums to determine success and measure impact. What kinds of methods can we use to demonstrate that we are making a difference in people’s lives? I just finished the PhD program in Cognitive Science at Columbia, focusing on how people think about works of art.

DL: What do you think is the hardest part about breaking into this field? 

WC: One of the great strengths of museums is that the more you get to know people who work in museums, the more you realize that they have really diverse backgrounds. They might have been an artist, or have been interested in another field or another career before museum work. Museum professionals have a lot of different interests, and museums are places where those diverse interests can be fed. 

My advice to undergraduates is don’t let go of the passions and interests you have, since there isn't a linear trajectory into the museum field. They should follow their passion and what they are excited about. Museums are places where they can find those passions. There are opportunities for direct teaching about objects, you can be on the side of research and scholarship about collections, or you can be presenting exhibitions to the public. We also have a huge number of people that are related to the business of a museum - development, marketing, strategy, merchandising, physical operations, and engineering. There is a huge spectrum of opportunities. I didn't grow up thinking about museums as a career opportunity. I grew up in rural southwest Virginia where there were not a lot of museums. The idea of being a museum professional didn’t occur to me until college and after college.

I recommend people interested in museum work reach out to people in the field and have informational interviews and ask to shadow them. That’s a great way to see what it is like to work in a museum. Whether a formal internship or not, it can be helpful to find out if its a fit. And honestly, it is just as important to know what you don't want to do. 

DL: How do you like living in New York? What are some of the realities of living there? 

WC: The perception of New York being inaccessible is true. I moved here in 1995, and when I am talking to recent graduates, most aren't looking to live in Manhattan anymore. Real estate is so competitive. Instead, people are living in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and New Jersey. In those places, the cost of living is less, but those neighborhoods have also started creating networks of people in arts communities. So if someone is thinking of moving to New York, they might need to see what the communities look like in the other boroughs and what are the job opportunities in places in addition to Manhattan. Recent graduates need to think strategically about creating a plan for themselves. It is important to experiment and try new things. I recommended they take some risks and allow themselves a few years to try out New York. They should give themselves a budget to experiment and see all that New York really has to offer. 

DL: Is the art scene hard to break into in NY?

WC: The ways to break into communities have changed since I moved to New York and started out. The internet was new when I came here. As a result, a lot of the way you networked was through in-person introductions. You had to go in person to gallery openings. Also, you introduced yourself with slides to a gallery. It was a very analog process. Honestly there is no replacement for a face to face conversation and impromptu meeting, but there are now communities in the digital sphere and on social media. It might not make things easier in terms of getting a job or gallery representation, but there is a greater level of transparency. You can see who the people are and how you can get involved and subsequently learn more. There is a higher amount of information, especially at the emerging artist level. 

Most of my opportunities did not come from established people in the field or from professors/former instructors. Instead, they came from peers. With your peers, you can create your own group exhibitions or work together to explore an opportunity. 

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

WC: All of the experiences I had in college, including the challenging ones, subsequently led to great opportunities. It is hard to look back and see what ended up serving me best. Academia has often been a self contained sphere that doesn’t want to address the issues of career realities and the logistics of what happens after graduation. Whether it’s through engagement with professors, the career center, peer to peer, or alumni networks, I do think that students should actively be putting effort into thinking about what their time after college will look like. They should be thinking about what are the beginnings of a road map, and think about that just as much as academic interests. You don’t want to map out your life to the detriment of not exploring opportunities, but you also need to really think about what is best suited for you in terms of where you can thrive and how people can help you. It does take a certain amount of confidence and willpower to reach out to someone established in their career. But students should definitely do that and treat it as a learning experience. 

Spotlight Interview: Caroline Culp

Caroline Culp: Graduate Student

PhD in Art History, Stanford University 

WFU Class of 2013

Double Major: Art History & History (Honors)

Caroline Culp launched straight into her PhD out of undergrad, which is no small feat. With enormous amounts of research and internship experience under her belt, Caroline was accepted into Stanford's Art History PhD program upon graduation from Wake. She speaks to us now about her experience thus far.

DeacLink:  Tell us about what you’ve been doing since graduation.

Caroline Culp: I am currently in the Art History PhD program at Stanford, where I study American art and material culture of the eighteenth century. I very firmly feel that the programs, fellowships, and internships I completed at Wake allowed me to get into a PhD program without first obtaining a masters degree. During my sophomore year, I had an internship at National Portrait Gallery in DC, where I made some great contacts. The summer after my junior year, I had a research fellowship through the history department. After graduation, I worked as a curatorial research intern at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Working in the American Wing with the curator of sculpture to organize and research an upcoming exhibition, I realized this was what I wanted to do in my career--to be a curator at large arts institution. After a grueling round of applications to graduate programs (a full-time job in itself!), I began at Stanford in Fall of 2014. 

DL: What has surprised you the most about graduate school? 

CC: Graduate school is really hard. You have to be 100% sure before going into a PhD program that it is the path you want. It is taxing intellectually, psychologically, and emotionally. You’re likely to be far from my friends and family. You must be completely sure before you make that kind of a jump. But, I love what I do, and I love the program. I have grown enormously in my work, and I wouldn’t choose anything else.

DL: What advice would you give to students considering a PhD program?  

CC: Professor Jay Curley gave me some great advice. He said “Don’t pay for any art history advanced degree if you can help it. Emerging in debt and faced with a lower paying job is a sad way to spend your thirties!” But the reality is that three out of four students at Stanford come in with a masters. I would say that if a PhD in art history is what you know you need to do, take the debt or let your family help out with getting a masters degree. You will then have a better chance at acceptance to a PhD program. 

DL: So what specifically are you wanting to do after graduation? 

CC: The PhD program allows me keep my options open, and that is the best way to approach an advanced degree. I do feel that I would be best suited for a career in curation, but I will still be applying for academic positions. After teaching for the first time this quarter, I was surprised to realize I loved how fulfilling it was. 

DL: What are some of the realities of pursuing a career in the curatorial field? 

CC: The brutal reality is that the job market is very unforgiving. Positions are few and far between. When you finish your PhD, you have a 1-2 year window where you can apply for jobs. And, there are a limited number of jobs in your specialty available. I am focusing on early American art, but I will likely be applying to broad curatorial positions in American art. There are a limited number of American art positions across the country, and those that are open at the right time are an even smaller number. It takes a lot guts to go into this field. You have to have a lot of heart and get lucky. And you have to believe that it will work out. 

I’m guessing my first job won’t be glamorous. Starting at smaller institutions to start is very normal, or moving to a less-than-desirable location. You have no control in this job market. You just have to embrace the opportunities given to you. 

DL: Where would you say are the most opportunities in the curatorial field? 

CC: I would definitely say modern has the most curatorial opportunities. Also, with contemporary, you have the option to pursue curatorial positions in galleries.  

DL: What is the art scene like in Palo Alto? 

CC: The West Coast art scene seems to be (from my removed perspective) a mixture of California chill with a sense of nostalgia. Many artists are investigating questions of representation in various ways. The housing market has largely determined where artists can live. Right now, housing prices have pushed artists to Oakland and increasingly to LA. Being in Palo Alto, we are geographically disconnected. 

DL: Have you had the chance to become involved with the Cantor Center on Stanford’s campus? 

CC: At Stanford, there are various small curatorial opportunities, one of which is the highlight of my time at Stanford. Two years ago, I was able to take a class in which five PhD students in humanities disciplines worked together to conceive a show. We created a conceptually focused exhibition, implemented our vision, and produced a catalog. The class, taught by Richard Meyer and Connie Wolf, was part of a Mellon Grant that enabled Stanford and the Cantor to work together. 

Another Mellon funded initiative allows graduate students to develop and curate their own small show. After putting together a proposal, you get help from the Director of Academic Engagement at the Cantor to help make your vision a reality. 

DL: Given your interest in American Art, were you at all involved with Reynolda House as an undergrad? 

CC: Yes, I was a curatorial intern under Alison Slaby at Reynolda House, and my time there was very formative. It exposed me to a lot of canonical works of American art: the museum has a fantastic collection. My internship there has, I think, shaped the direction of my research and scholarly focus. 
 

Spotlight Interview: Ginny DeLacey

Ginny DeLacey Lewinski: Former Major Gifts Manager

Washington, DC

National Museum of Women in the Arts
WFU Class of 2012
Double Major: Art History (Honors) & French

Ginny DeLacey spent time interning for the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC throughout undergrad. Upon leaving Wake, she took a job with the same museum as Development Associate. Now serving as Major Gifts Manager, Ginny speaks to us about her new role, and how she transitioned from the Forest to fundraising.

*Since posting the article, Ginny has moved to Georgetown University where she is the Assistant Director for Board Operations.

DeacLink: Would you mind telling me about what you’re doing at the National Museum of Women in the Arts?

Ginny DeLacey: I am currently the Major Gifts Manager at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The museum is not a part of the Smithsonian system, but it is right by the White House. I started here two and a half years ago, and I interned here in college in during the summer of 2010 through the Wake Washington program. During the internship, a Wake alum at the National Gallery gave me ideas in terms of museums other museums to apply to. My initial job here as the Development Associate has evolved into Major Gifts Manager, which is much to do with fundraising. My job entails a lot of database management, creating reports, sending acknowledgements for gifts. I also work with the Board of Directors and stewards some of the committees focused on fundraising. 


DL: How did you end up on the development track? This seems to be a pretty popular career path for Art History majors. 

GD: The summer summer after I graduated, I was in New York for an art gallery internship at Bryce Wolkowitz. I had wanted to be in DC, and I had been a development intern while in college. While I was in school, I had been very much on the academic side of art history, and I thought about going to grad school. However, during my senior year, I took the Management in the Visual Arts class, and I started considering other opportunities in the art world, hence the gallery internship. Honestly, the gallery world and New York weren’t the best fit for me, so I moved back to DC. I took a part time job in development, and then also took a part time role at the Kennedy Center

Most people are attracted to curatorial positions, which are considered to be the “sexier” part of the museum world. However, Museums need money. Because of this, development teams are often bigger than curatorial ones. Because of this, there are more jobs and opportunities for advancement. I would also say there is a lot of mobility in the development field. There is a very high demand for strong development officers, especially at the higher levels. And at the end of the day, you are still supporting the mission. 


DL: When you were at the Kennedy Center, you were working in the performing as opposed to visual arts. How was that transition? 

GD: I am honestly not a performing arts person. My heart is in the visual arts. However, the Kennedy Center was a great place to learn but the staff was enormous. Now, I feel like I am on a more manageable sized team, and I am more connected with mission. I went from a team of seventy at the Kennedy Center, and I am on a team of eight now. With the smaller team, I have much more freedom and am able to make more of an impact.  Also, the Kennedy Center is such an institution. From a development perspective, there are a lot of people that give large sums of money. However, for the smaller level donors, people feel like they may be neglected in comparison, or question the value and impact of their gifts. At a smaller institution people are able to see the results of their contributions. 


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

GD: Honestly, it was a bit of a mixed bag. At Wake, I was panicking during my senior year.. Thankfully there is a strong alumni network for art history in DC. Everyone is very inclusive and helpful. Jame Anderson has created a group of about fifteen alums in the arts, and we get together for informal happy hours quarterly. Of the fifteen, ten people are normally able to attend, and we will chat about work and any issues we are facing. 

I would say the alumni network has been a better resource than the OPCD. I was able to get my internship in New York through a connection I had made during the New York trip for management in the visual arts. And while that ended up not being what I wanted to do with my career, it was still a good learning experience. 


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

GD: I would say the professors were more supportive academically, and were not focused as much on life after graduation. However, I would say Management in the Visual Arts was super helpful. It was a crash course in terms of the various aspects of the art world. Honestly, I wish I had taken it earlier on at Wake. 


DL: What would you say is the hardest part about breaking into the museum development field. 

GD: You have to be incredibly persistent. For the first ten months, I had part time roles at a consulting firm and an arts organization. You have to stick with it and get the experience where you can. The more internships and part time roles you can have, the better off you will be. 


DL: How are you liking living in DC?

GD: DC is a manageable city, but it’s very expensive. However, I have a great friend group here. When I first moved here, I lived with a girl from Wake. Now, we have this amazing group of friends that is about half Wake people. Also, in DC, there is always something to do. 

In terms of living situations, the neighborhood I am in is pretty quiet. I have a dog and a backyard. I think some people get overwhelmed with the politics in DC, but my friend group is all people working for nonprofits, so I don’t experience as much of that aspect of the city. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to get caught up in the madness of the Hill. There are some bars you will go to, and people will ask you political questions, but you can find your own scene. Things are not ubiquitous throughout the city. Also, DC has a strong hipster scene. There are a lot of dive bars and cool coffee shops. It can be more relaxed. 

The last thing I would say is that DC is very active. A lot of the time, my friends and I will go hiking on the weekends. And there are a lot of parks near the city… not just buttoned up government people running around. 


DL: What has surprised you the most about the art scene in DC? Do you have any advice for students wanting to move to move there?

GD: The art scene here is definitely growing beyond just museums. However, museums are doing interesting things to engage new and younger people. Several museums have First Fridays where you can buy beer and wine. The National Gallery has started their Edge Series that is a free event with a cash bar. What’s really cool though is that people are in the galleries, not just at the bar. The scene here is not New York, but there is definitely an art scene. Also, there are a few galleries focused on emerging artists. Also, we are so close to Richmond and Baltimore which also have awesome art scenes that trickle into DC. 

DL: So what's next for you?

GD: Honestly, I am not sure. l love DC, but don’t know if I will live here here long term. My fiance wants to live abroad which would be really exciting. I exactly have a five year plan, but I know I want to stay in the arts. 

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

GD: Make all of the connections you can if you want to work in art world or museums. Also, do your best to stay up to date on what is going on in the art world.  Also, if you want to go into development at a museum, database experience is a huge difference maker, even if you have just learned those skills through an internship.  

 

 

 

Spotlight Interview: Margaret Gristina

Margaret Gristina: Senior Specialist & Head of Sale

Christie’s New York, Chinese Works of Art
WFU Class of 1990
Art History Major

Margi Gristina came to Wake for a Business major, but after one Art History course she knew she'd discovered her passion. Currently serving as Senior Specialist and Head of Sale in the Chinese Works of Art Department at Christie's New York, Margi spoke with us to share about her path to this role, along with some sage advice.

 

DeacLink: Please tell us about your current job.

Margaret Gristina: I am currently the Senior Specialist & Head of Sale in the Chinese Works of Art Department at Christie’s New York. I oversee all Chinese works of art auctions in NYC, dealing with furniture, porcelain, ceramics and all other objects apart from paintings, dating from the 20th century back to 2000 BC and beyond. Our NY team of Chinese-art specialists is the largest within our Asian art cluster at Christie’s worldwide. We have sales in March and September each year, so we’re meeting deadlines now in preparation for next month. Generally we’ll have anywhere from 3-5 live auctions during our sale weeks, and around 4 online sales per year. In our ‘down time’ (which isn’t really that quiet!) we complete valuations for clients that consist of private collectors, estates and museums.

 

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

MG: After graduating from Wake I went into the Sotheby’s one-year masters course in London. During this time I was introduced to the decorative arts and fell in love with Chinese art. The course was good for exposing me to the commercial art world at large and all types of art, and I grew to understand what I personally liked. 

I went into a job with The Chinese Porcelain Company in New York after Sotheby’s, which was a small operation at that time. My boss was a huge influence on me, and mentored me for ten years. After my first four years the company grew into a bigger space on Park Avenue, and later I became director, writing four to five catalogues a year and participating in many antique shows in New York and London.

After fifteen years at The Chinese Porcelain Company I spent about five years as a consultant, advising clients and contributing to a series of books on Chinese export porcelain made for Portugal. Five years ago I moved to Christie’s for a new role in their Chinese Art Department as Appraisals Associate. The corporate structure at Christie’s has many benefits, one being the ability to move up and grow along the series of steps in the departments. I graduated to a Specialist role, and continued up the ranks to my current position after four years, as Senior Specialist & Head of Sale in the Chinese Works of Art Department. 

 

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

MG: I went into Wake expecting to be a business major, but after my first Art History class I knew it had to be art. One of the most influential experiences at Wake was my semester abroad to Venice during junior year. The art history course at the time at Casa Artom was taught by renowned Veronese specialist Professor Terisio Pignatti, which was really special.  Sitting in the classroom with him and learning about a specific work, then visiting the church or gallery where it was housed, was an experience that could never be repeated. It was organic learning at its best and anyone who was there during the time he taught was very fortunate. That semester secured my desire to be in the art world and also work in an international setting.

 

DL: Do you feel like Wake arts prepared you for life after graduation?

MG: It was so different when I was there.  Wake is great for those interested in business, accounting and so forth, but there were no resources at the time for Art History students wanting to enter careers in the commercial art world.

 

DL: What other sorts of jobs have you had? How did you find and apply to them? 

MG: All of my jobs and opportunities arose from networking, and this was the pre-digital era. I had an internship during undergrad at an American art gallery in New York called Hirschl & Adler. A friend of mine at Wake connected me to someone working there. 

After Wake and toward the end of my masters in London, I took a printed guide of the National Antique Dealers of America to my mentor at the Sotheby’s program, asking if he knew anyone within the directory. I was pointed to The Chinese Porcelain Company and after contacting them was hired onto their team.

 

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

MG: Getting your foot in the door. Once you can get that first wedge in though, if you can show you’re a motivated, hard worker you are going to be desirable. The best way to break in is through internships. Especially at Christie’s, we like to hire internally. Lots of companies do. If they can see that you work well in their environment it’s likely they’ll want to help you move forward. We’ve had lots of interns become full time employees from internships here at Christie’s.

 

DL: What has surprised you the most about the art scene in New York? 

MG: It’s so expansive and there are innumerable opportunities. There are galleries, museums, art fairs, and auction houses (which even within themselves along have so many categories to become interested in- between proposal writing, estates and appraisals, and even art insurance). If you can get any experience at all, anywhere, you can start to understand what you like and dislike, and build toward a path you really want to be on. 

 

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

MG: Have an open mind about opportunities and don’t be shy about utilizing your network. When given the chance, show that you’re focused, capable and motivated. Those are the top traits people look for.
 

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. 

Spotlight Interview: Bentrice Jusu

Bentrice Jusu: Artist

New York City

WFU Class of 2013

Double Major: Film Studies & Studio Art with Honors Distinction

Artist Bentrice Jusu is best described by the word ‘passion’. Every project and venture she carries out is infused with a palpable and pure energy. Take for instance ‘Both Hands’, a non profit youth arts program which Bentrice founded in 2011 as a sophomore. Purposeful, fiery and refreshingly honest, Bentrice catches us up on all things in her world.

 

DeacLink: Tell us about what you’re doing right now.

Bentrice Jusu: I’m a full-time artist. Everything I do is about creatively composing ways to use my professional and educational skill set to make money, earn a salary. 

In addition to making work, I’m still Executive Director of Both Hands [founded in 2011 while at Wake], and Founder and Creative Director of the Become Club, a fashion and interactive multimedia business which incorporates fashion, music and videography. 

All three of these operations combined are definitely not sustainable, so I have to think creatively about how to be a good artist, how to work in media I excel in, and how to utilize the business mindedness I honed before and during my time at Wake. The key is applying business savviness to your artistic practice.

 

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

B: I founded Both Hands while at Wake in 2011, so coming out school that was my primary focus, keeping that going. In 2015 I went into research development for the Become Club. And throughout my time since Wake I’ve been producing artwork of my own and executing commissioned projects... I try to seek commissions all the time. I had a showing in Trenton at the New Jersey State Museum recently, which was an annual showing for my organization as well as my artwork. I also have a few potential events brewing in Philly and NYC. My website and social media accounts will announce those projects officially in the near future.


DL: Did you consider a graduate degree after Wake? 

B: I literally just hit ‘submit’ on my applications last week! I’m applying to a few MFA programs. One particular program I had my eye on, I’ve just missed the deadline for. It’s a dual MFA and MBA at NYU. Through my other research I discovered another great program- UPenn offers a Masters in Liberal Arts now. 

 

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

B: Everything revolved around Both Hands from the moment I started that business. I consciously enrolled in classes that would apply positively to building and impacting my business… I made my course load work for me.

Intentionally, I stayed true to my art. I came to Wake with my sights set on a business major but I failed. I had to retake a few classes but even then I still didn’t end up majoring in it. The intent there was to become amazing at running a non-profit. The only problem is, the Wake business major is intensive on corporate avenues and profit, and not necessarily non-profit success. But in the end I simply adjusted, shaped my brain to think about other ways to run a business.

I owe a lot to Polly Black’s tutelage in the ICE Department (Center for Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship). It allowed me to see business in an innovative and creative way… Professor Black was pivotal in bringing the educational and professional aspect to my Wake experience.

 

DL: Did Wake’s Art Department help prepare you for life as a full time artist?

B: I say this without any reserve: Wake’s Art Department DID in fact help me in my post graduate career. Shout out to Wake Forest Art Department- TEAM ART! Hallberg, Pickel, Joel, Finn, Faber… all of the professors were amazing.

We didn’t have access to a rich, popping arts culture like schools in New York does.. And you can’t blame that on the University because that’s just Winston-Salem, NC. But I say without any hesitation that Wake did expose me to different art, different practices, and to challenges which made me become my own, better type of artist without conforming to one certain medium. I felt free to explore. 


DL: Prior to what you’re doing now, what other sorts of jobs have you had? How did you find and apply to them?

B: I interned for the Shalom Project, the Diversity Immersion and Inclusion (in non-profit management), One Simple Wish in New Jersey, the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF Freedom School), and was an Americorps Fellow. Some of the opportunities were from personal and internal references, while others came about from me seeing an ad posted in the pit and applying from there.


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

B: Being taken for granted. It’s easy to get exploited because your artwork is either tangible and expensable, or replicable and can be done by any and everybody… people think you’re posting your materials for free.

So yeah, the hardest part is penetrating the professional art world without starving to death- you have to do a million and three things for $2 an hour. But you need to believe in yourself enough to know your artwork is meaningful beyond your fingertips. 

You’ve also got to overcome feeling bad about being judged and criticized as capitalistic when you switch your medium from a canvas to something portable like a CD or a song. I mean, I have a background in oil painting and all of that… I know how long it takes to construct and work at a painting, or write a proposal to get into a gallery space to display that painting. If you haven’t graduated from Yale, it’s hard. 


DL: You’re still based in New Jersey, but looking to move to the City permanently soon. Have you got any advice for students looking to move to NYC?

B: Don’t be a wimp. New York is like every other place, but they’re raised to be themselves. And if you are afraid and intimidated you will not exist there. I haven’t even penetrated the NYC scene like I’m planning to in the next year, but from the time I’ve spent there… you simply can’t be a baby.


DL: What has surprised you the most about the art scene in New York? 

B: Nothing. It’s everything you’d expect from a metropolitan art scene. 


DL: So we know about grad school, but what’s next for you, art-wise?

B: I’m beginning to focus more on my performance practice. It’s still video installation, still multilateral… but much more centered around the music and performance aspect now. It’ll manifest through the Become Club website, and the actual performance and music will be good enough to reach audiences who can really feel what I’m talking about. The content is based around you becoming the artist you want to be. Viewers can purchase the song for one dollar. Five bucks buys a print, and you can become a member of the club to have access to special projects and opportunities for selected prices from $100.

I’ve also got a show coming up at START gallery, with fellow alumna Emma Hunsinger. More information on that will be showing up on the gallery’s site.


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

B: Don’t forget where you came from… don’t be afraid of your past. You cannot forget that. 
 

Visit Bentrice's website here

Follow Bentrice on Instagram and Twitter @beni_jusu

Spotlight Interview: Kristi Chan

Kristi Chan: Artist

San Francisco

WFU Class of 2015

Major: Studio Art

Minor: Art History

Artist Kristi Chan is a vivacious soul, characterized by an even balance of optimism and tenacity. The recent graduate and travel pro explains how she ended up on the opposite side of the country from her North Carolina home, pursuing what she loves most: creating.

 

DeacLink: What are you up to right now?

Kristi Chan: Right now I teach elementary and middle school art at Presidio Hill School, three days a week. I was also recently working for photographer McNair Evans in the city, which was really great. In addition to these, I do commission works on a regular basis and write/shoot for an online magazine called The Bold Italic. I have always had side projects, or ‘hustles’ going on. 

In my spare time, which I feel there’s never enough of, I’m working on personal painting and photography projects. I’ve just been accepted as a studio resident at ArtSpan, a local arts organization in the city which provides studios for applicants who have never had a space to work in before, or have been displaced from their studio. I move in the next couple weeks, and can’t wait to get started there. Prior to this, I’ve been carving out two areas in my apartment to create work- one in my room and a corner of the shared living room. Most studios I had looked at were more expensive than my apartment, so I had to make it work! 


DL: Take us through your journey since graduating from Wake.

KC: I graduated in 2015 with a teaching job lined up in Argentina for that summer teaching a high school study abroad course on photojournalism and social change. Afterward I came back to the States, but didn’t go home to Charlotte. I had applied for journalism jobs up in DC and New York, so spent time interviewing there to understand the environment and how life would be if I were to go that route. I realized I wasn’t ready for an office job, and neither city was really for me. I participated in a photography workshop in Provincetown, Cape Cod where a few friends of mine were already. Once the workshop concluded, I was beyond inspired to continue my work, but had to face the facts- I had no money, no ticket home, and no car. I caught a ride out West to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I was working on hot air balloon rigs for two months to have an income, until the opportunity to catch another ride arose. My friend picked me up on his way to see family in Montana. From there I hopped to Seattle, and trickled down the coast via train until I landed in San Francisco. I’ve been here for a year since.


DL: Did you consider a graduate degree after Wake? 

KC: Yes, and I’m still considering it. I don’t think I’m ready just yet, but with more time I’ll have a better grasp of how things work in the crazy art world, and then return to school. I want to have a few more shows and publications under my belt before applying to programs, and a more complete portfolio in general.


DL: Did your studies or Wake in general inform or drive your career path?

KC: Yes, very much so. I was encouraged by my professors to pick art as a major while at Wake, though most people were worried about a potential future in the arts, and advised against it. Despite the voices in my ear saying, ‘You won’t be able to do anything with art,’ I chose what I loved and felt all the more motivated to prove that opinion wrong. Wake’s prevalence of Business and Science, and more directly career-oriented majors can create the pressure to be boxed in, but the professors in the Art Department were so supportive that I chose something I knew I would love doing even if the path was really undetermined.

The best skill I acquired while in undergrad was the process by which I learned to make artistic decisions. Having to make and defend the reasoning of my decisions with each image and painting I produced helped create a process that taught me to consider the intention and impact of each of those decisions, a process that carried over into my life. It's also probably a big reason behind why I like to travel, and have worked for opportunities that allow me to do so. I learned to be comfortable with the constant ambiguity in an art career or while traveling, which I've learned is a pretty valuable transferable skill! I apply the same process I use when painting to navigate the extreme uncertainty of life as an artist now. There is no one to tell you how to make decisions in painting, and life is the same- both are very open and up to the individual. I feel extremely free and capable to take the steps I need to, and time my decisions with confidence.


DL: Do you think Wake’s art program prepared you for life as an artist in the real world?

KC: While there are many wonderful things about our art program, I don't think it's really designed to train career artists. It’s pretty uncommon for Studio majors to graduate on to careers as artists. I loved my classes, and while I acquired a great amount of studio skills, I didn’t learn enough business skills to know what it would take to be, say, a small business owner or sole proprietor. As an artist you have to be your own business, which of course requires business skills- something I felt that I was lacking in. I had a little knowledge of budgeting and business basics, because I took entrepreneurship classes, but if you look at how Business majors are prepared across their time with resume reviews, internships, mock interviews, etc... you'll realize where there are some potential gaps in our program. The closest simulation to networking I had was gallery openings where the artist would visit, and you try to get a moment with them. 


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

KC: I think it’s really easy to see how big the art world is. It’s hard to avoid comparing yourself to other artists, and equally difficult to devote the required time, money and space to create work you believe in.

It can be discouraging when you’re producing work that no one is seeing or buying. But you have to wholeheartedly believe that what you’re doing is worthwhile, and pick yourself up by the bootstraps. It’s already been a year in this city, and I understand that I have a far way to go. But I know this is what I should be doing, and that keeps me going.


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

KC: I love living in San Francisco. The Bay Area is really vibrant culturally, and there’s a rich history in the arts here. While a lot has changed with the growth of the tech industry and many artists have been pushed out of the city, there remains a creative, can-do spirit that I draw a lot of motivation from. I meet artists, makers, and creators everywhere I go, and the arts are something that people really value here.  The outdoors are also a big part of my life, and so being able to climb, surf, and backpack on any given weekend is a huge plus. SF has surprisingly good surf, and I can be on a trail outside the city within a 30 min drive.


As far as advice for students wanting to move here--it is a really challenging city to live in. They say it takes about a year to feel like you live here. This isn’t news to anyone, but it is extremely expensive. I feel like I won the lottery with my housing situation, but for the most part average rent for a room in an apartment with roommates is about 1200-1600. A lot of artists have moved to Oakland across the bay, but even that area has gotten really expensive. Some days I think to myself half-jokingly that I probably picked the worst city to decide to be a “starving artist” in, but most of the time I couldn’t be happier to be where I am now.


DL: What piece of advice do you currently go by, that you can leave with us?

KC: Say yes to every opportunity until you can’t… if you aren’t challenging yourself then you’re just making excuses. No one’s gonna do it for you.
 

Visit Kristi's website here

Follow her on Instagram @kristi_chan

Spotlight Interview: Robert Cox

Robert Cox: Former Architect, Robert A.M. Stern Architects

New York City

WFU Class of 2009

Major: Art History

Minor: Studio Art

North Carolina native Robert Cox made a point of pursuing architecture from his first year at Wake Forest. Building a strong foundation in historical knowledge, Robert honed his creative style through Studio courses and summers abroad on architecture-focused Richter Scholarship travels. We spoke with Robert to learn more about his path into architecture.

*At the time of the interview (02/2017), Cox was with Robert A.M. Stern Architects in New York.

 

DeacLink: What are you currently doing at work?

Robert Cox: I have been working at a firm called Robert A.M. Stern Architects  for almost four years now. It’s a medium-size office with a broad scope of residential, commercial, and institutional buildings (including the new business school at Wake Forest). I worked for two years on a multi-family residential project in New York, and then transitioned about a year ago to another part of the office, focusing on single family homes.

 

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

RC: I graduted from Wake in 2009 with an Art History major and a Studio Art minor, then took a year off in my hometown of Asheboro, NC to work on my portfolio and apply to grad schools. I was accepted to Columbia's architecture program, and moved to New York in the fall of 2010. After three years of school and a summer of job hunting, I started by current job at RAMSA.

 

DL: Was Columbia your primary focus while selecting a graduate program?

RC: I actually cast a wide net. Because I didn’t have any previous architecture experience, I compiled a portfolio of drawing, photography, and even a little creative writing. I tried to make it speak to my interests and creative pursuits, and hoped that that would resonate with the right school.

 

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

RC: I had always thought I’d go into architecture, but Wake Forest was a place where I could get a liberal arts education first, before getting into this very specialized discipline. I think my time at Wake studying architectural history helped confirm for me what I wanted. Spending that time broadening my base knowledge was definitely worthwhile.

 

DL: oming out of your artistic training at Wake, did you feel prepared for life after graduation?

RC: I think, specifically for architecture, I probably could’ve gotten better at digital design tools before starting school. Learning more about 3D modeling, for example, would’ve been a great head start. My first year of architecture school, I was trying to design buildings and learn software at the same time, when I should’ve just been focusing on design. So my advice to anyone going into architecture school: download or find school resources for software, and practice! 

 

DL: rior to what you’re doing now, what other sorts of jobs have you had? How did you find and apply to them?

RC: or better or worse, I spent my summers exploring. I took advantage of being a young college student, rather than piling on office experience. The summer of 2008, between my junior and senior year, I studied (with Wake’s help!) in Jamaica and in Italy through two different programs. In Jamaica, I joined UVA’s architecture school in their historic preservation field school, which was very cool. After that, I traveled to Rome on the Richter grant, completing an individual study of contemporary religious architecture in Italy.

 

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

RC: I was applying for jobs during the lingering aftermath of 2008, so hiring was just beginning to pick back up in the architecture world. There were more architects than there were positions, so it took me a while. Having a degree from a well-known program like Columbia helped for sure, but it was also an expensive degree -- which doesn’t always compare well with an architect’s salary. So, coming from a good school is great for getting hired, but you have to be willing to pay for it (or hustle hard for that scholarship).

 

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

RC: I’ve been here six years. I was never one of those people completely enthralled by the city, but I wasn’t hating every minute, either. You meet both types here. The best advice I have is to show up ready for things to be different from just about anywhere else in the US. Be ready to go with the frenetic flow, and try to love New York even when it’s not loving you back.

 

DL: hat has surprised you the most about the art scene in New York?

RC: I actually live very close to the West Chelsea gallery streets, so I often walk down there on Saturday mornings to get coffee and check things out. It’s been one of the most specifically New York things that I’ve gotten to experience here. There’s a constant rotation of new and exciting art, free and open to the public.

 

DL: What and where is next for you?

RC: I’ll stay at my current job for the time being. I still have lots to learn, and I’m enjoying my work. The biggest thing for me next is the completion of a book I’m writing/illustrating… that’s coming down the line, hopefully soon.

 

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

RC: I have the tendency to get pretty zoomed in on my work and stay there. And I think one thing I’ve learned that’s worthwhile: periodically take a step back and look at the big picture, and see how everything fits together. 

 

 

 

Spotlight Interview: Laurel McLaughlin

Laurel McLaughlin: Ridgway Curatorial Fellow in Special Collections, Bryn Mawr College

Philadelphia

WFU Class of 2013

Presidential Scholar of Voice

Double Major: Art History & English

Minor: Linguistics

 

To call Laurel McLaughlin multitalented would be a severe understatement. While at Wake Forest, she was a double major, Presidential Scholar of Voice, and a selected member of the 2013 Student Union Art Acquisitions Committee (formerly known as the ‘New York Art Buying Trip’). Since the interview, Laurel has completed graduate school and become the Ridgway Curatorial Fellow in Special Collections at Bryn Mawr College.


 

DeacLink: Tell us about your current job, and any other projects going on outside of work.

Laurel: I am currently a graduate student in the doctoral program at Bryn Mawr College with a focus on contemporary performance art and theories of embodiment, in addition to working as a Curatorial Assistant at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where I’ve collaborated on exhibitions ranging from Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis to World War I and American Art. I am also currently co-chairing the Bryn Mawr College Graduate Group Symposium, which will take place in the Fall of 2017, and co-curating two upcoming exhibitions, one with the University of Pennsylvania's Incubation Series, entitled Passages, at Fjord Gallery, Philadelphia, and the other at both Bryn Mawr College and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts entitled, Beyond Boundaries: Feminine Forms, which will be accompanied by programming and an exhibition catalog.

 

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

LM: I graduated from Wake Forest University in 2013 and had the opportunity to do an internship in the Contemporary department at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, after which I stayed on as a Research Assistant for a year working on exhibitions ranging from International Pop to Allora & Calzadilla: Intervals. I then moved to London in 2014 where I completed a Masters with Distinction entitled, “Corporeality within Globalised Migratory Aesthetics According to Nine Female Artists: Mona Hatoum, Doris Salcedo, Milica Tomić, Oreet Ashery, Tania Bruguera, Tímea Oravecz, Meriç Algün Ringborg, and Teresa Margolles,” at The Courtauld Institute of Art in Global Conceptualism with Dr. Sarah Wilson. In 2015 I returned to Philadelphia where I began graduate coursework at Bryn Mawr College.


 

DL: What are your biggest incentives and motivations in the job you’re doing now?

LM: My love for museum institutions and the public knowledge that they engender is a major motivation for my current graduate studies as I hope to join the ranks of a curatorial team.


 

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

LM: I am profoundly grateful for the work ethic that the liberal arts education at Wake Forest promoted. Every semester I would petition the Dean to take more classes than perhaps encouraged, and each semester became more of a challenge and an incredible adventure. The opportunity to study in such an interdisciplinary environment has continued to reinvigorate my studies with a multifaceted perspective throughout graduate school.

I would also be extremely remiss if I did not acknowledge the wonderful mentors that guided me throughout my time at Wake Forest. Professor Jay Curley is one such professor whose professionalism, scholarship, and dedication to his field first inspired me to pursue graduate studies and a curatorial career; and he remains a valued mentor and wonderful interlocutor to this day. I am also grateful for Professors Barry Maine, Bernadine Barnes, Teresa Radomski, and Herman Rapaport whose teaching abilities, class discussions, and vocal exercises never ceased to amaze me.

 

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

LM: Looking back, it would have been helpful to speak with recent Wake alumni who had continued with graduate studies in Art History.

 

DL:  Prior to what you’re doing now, what other sorts of jobs have you had? How did you find and apply to them?

LM: I’ve held a variety of internships and fellowship positions at The Reynolda House Museum, Wake Forest University Special Collections, The Barnes Foundation, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Sadie Coles HQ (London), Hales Gallery (London), The Slought Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. I found most of these opportunities on museum websites and art-related search engines, such as the New York Foundation for the Arts, and The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

 

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

LM: One of the most challenging aspects of academia is the constant multitasking. While Wake Forest certainly introduced me to this lifestyle, graduate school increased that tenfold. Between applications for external opportunities, research papers, language exams, readings, jobs, classes, and this enigma called “life,” I’ve found a strange balance -- but it certainly took some time.



 

DL: How do you like living and working in Philadelphia?

LM: I’ve enjoyed my time living, working, and studying in Philadelphia tremendously. I enjoy my short commute to the suburbs for classes and the resources at Bryn Mawr that all remain close to the city. Philadelphia itself is a charming place to live with numerous neighborhoods and diverse communities. Its art scene ranges from contemporary museums such as The Fabric Workshop Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, to hybrid social activist platforms such as the Slought Foundation, to encyclopaedic institutions such as the PMA and PaFA, with some quirky haunts like the Mutter Museum and the Eastern State Penitentiary. The city teems with history. And its close proximity to New York, Washington, and Boston are an added bonus.

 

DL: What has surprised you the most about the art scene in Philly? Do you have any advice for students wanting to move to move there?

LM: I have been surprised by the opportunities to partake in the Philadelphia art scene at such a young stage in my career. Unlike neighboring cities, which seem to have established hierarchies for their art scenes, Philadelphia remains fairly open and eager for collaboration and new activities.


 

DL: What and where is next for you?

LM: I will remain in Philadelphia to finish my second year in Bryn Mawr’s graduate program. Next year I hope to undertake a curatorial fellowship while writing my dissertation proposal.


 

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

LM: Be creative. While other students spent time at networking events or seminars on LinkedIn during the summers, I spent time in museum archives, which eventually led to current jobs and curatorial opportunities. Our art field, although seemingly corporate at times, operates a bit differently and requires some out-of-the-box thinking. Never be afraid to write an unusual proposal or make known the fact that you’re curious.