Spring 2015 Art History/Museum Studies
Student Intern Testimonials

Celina Osborne-Dasilva
Image: Celina Osborne-Dasilva creating exhibition labels for her co-curated show Video Killed the Radio Star.

While pursuing my studies at the U of L as an Art History/Museum Studies major, I have had the opportunity to complete two internships. In the past, I have interned as a “Collections Assistant” at the Galt Museum & Archives (Spring ’14) and at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery (Fall ’14). During my internships, I developed an array of professional skills that will be of benefit upon my graduation. Enrolling in another internship at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery continues to broaden my academic and professional horizons and I believe that it will be just as rewarding as my previous intern experiences.

As an intern, spending time in a professional setting has allowed me to put my academic training into practice and gain invaluable knowledge. Because of my internships, I was able to confirm that I have the ability to work in a professional environment within my chosen field of study. Through experience-based learning, I’ve acquired skills that range from the registration of incoming materials, acquisition processes, preservation of the artworks and artifacts, the installation of artworks and preparing for exhibitions. During my second internship at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, I aim to further expand my knowledge and face new challenges such as curating exhibitions for the U of L Main Gallery and its satellite space, the Helen Christou Gallery. I will also mentor new interns so that they too can gain the same experience that I have attained: I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as an intern and I am confident that others will too.

My ultimate goal for this term is to decide which professional path I will choose upon my graduation in the Spring of 2016. There are a variety of career possibilities within the field of Fine Arts and I aim to discover which career I will pursue in the future.

Corrie Hartley
Museum Studies is a newly discovered passion for me. Previously my education was focused in general studio work and I have enjoyed finding connections between the two areas. Thus, an internship under the supervision of Wendy Aitkens, Curator of the Galt Museums & Archives, is a perfect fit for me. The most valuable experience I will gain from this internship will be to understand why this is an interest for me and then I will be able to pursue it further. I also look forward to developing personal connections to my community by learning about its history and observing patterns of interest for the visitors.

I am particularly excited about assisting in curating the exhibition Artistry and Precision that will be on display in the Galt’s main hallway starting February 21, 2015. It is based on the 1990 Sun Life Skate Canada International competition. I am interested to learn the specific research process in collecting information to display. This connects closely to learning and understanding what topics tend to pique a viewer’s interests. I will learn this by working alongside Wendy and monitoring visitor’s feedback of this and other exhibits. Secondly, I want to understand what display techniques are popular and engaging for the targeted audience while still keeping the object safe. And finally to tie it all together, I need to learn how to write for the public in a way that is clear, engaging and informative. While doing all of this I am learning excellent time management and multitasking skills.

Having grown up in Lethbridge, I am surprised by all the new things I am learning about my community. This has allowed me to develop relationships within my community both professionally and personally. The exhibition Artistry and Precision will give me an excellent opportunity to pursue this because the exhibit is based around the public: it connects to a past public event as we have asked the public about their experiences and to lend objects; as well, it is intended to encourage the public to participate when Skate Canada International returns in the fall. Because it is so public-based, I will learn first-hand exactly what kind of impact museums can have on individuals.

Grace Wirzba
Image: Grace Wirzba cleans an item from the Nicholas de Grandmaison Collection, generous gift from BMO Financial Group. The piece was part of the Sharing Stories, Bridging Cultures: research and education projects drawn from a collection of portraits by Nicholas de Grandmaison exhibition featured in the Helen Christou Gallery.

My first encounter with the internship came from overhearing a classmate chatting with Josephine Mills, Director/Curator of the University of Lethbridge Gallery, about the internship after class. My curiosity was sparked and Mills proceeded to discuss the prospect of next semester’s internship with my classmate and I. In the midst of my second year as an Art Studio major, I felt it would be an excellent opportunity to get an early start on making connections in the art community. For my first internship at the U of L Gallery, my focus will be on gaining confidence and learning about the everyday tasks of working in a gallery setting. In both personal and professional ways, I want to use my time at the gallery to come to a full understanding of the connection between producing and exhibiting artwork.

Now that I am a mere three weeks into the process, I can testify to how valuable the internship has already been. In my first few days at the gallery I was immersed in the process of preparing for an exhibition opening. Thinking on your feet and problem solving are just two of the innumerable traits important to working in a gallery. I feel that it is such a constructive and humbling experience to see that each near perfect exhibition does not always go up smoothly.

As many an Art and Art History/Museum Studies student would agree, the most exciting part of a gallery is, of course, the collection. So, it is especially rewarding to work within an institution with such a strong focus on collections. Though I have to keep telling myself I will not be able to handle each of the 14,000 pieces in the collection, I am still eager to get to know the works and understand the processes of caring for them. I am grateful to the gallery staff for accepting me, as well as the rest of the interns, onto the team. With my knowledge of the internship so far, I would not hesitate for a moment before recommending it to any aspiring curator, artist, or art enthusiast.

Jessica Fisher
As a sixth year student working on a second degree in Art History/Museum Studies major, I am thrilled to be participating in my first internship. After previously completing a Bachelor’s Degree in General Social Science at the University of Lethbridge, I am excited about this experience. For myself this opportunity is a way to broaden my experiences outside of the classroom and a way to improve my employment chances.

During this semester, I have the privilege of assisting Kevin McLean, the Collections Technician, at the Galt Museum & Archives. Given my previous degree and interests in sharing and preserving history, this opportunity will be highly rewarding. By being off campus, it will also broaden my outlook on career options and show me how museums are structured.

My time at the Galt so far has allowed me to learn about databases and how they are essential for research and overall organization. Additionally, I have been able to work on writing detailed inventories for donations. While assisting in documenting objects through written description, I have also been learning about photography and taking, catalogue-ready images. When I am not assisting in actual handling of the collection, I help to transcribe oral histories or other duties around the museum. My main project for the rest of the semester is to use my training in object handling, the catalogue, the database, and photography to reorganize parts of the collection. All of this, however, increases my enthusiasm for learning and my desire to participate. Each day is a new experience and it has been enlightening to learn about the many facets of a collections department. I look forward to the dynamic education I will receive and I am filled with anticipation about completing my internship.

Kaitlynn Smart
Image: Like fellow intern Grace Wirzba, Kaitlynn Smart was delegated to prepare the works for the Sharing Stories, Bridging Cultures: research and education projects drawn from a collection of portraits by Nicholas de Grandmaison exhibition featured in the Helen Christou Gallery.

Past
In my past internship at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, my main project was a promotional and social media campaign to promote the Internship program. This project included visiting interns at their host institutions and interviewing them to create profiles about their respective projects and the value they placed in the internship program. I experienced the benefits of the internship program firsthand through not only interviewing my peers, but through connecting with various art institutions and individuals on Twitter. While my fellow interns spoke of the value of networking through their institutions, I had the opportunity to promote myself and my internship activities to professionals in other galleries through social media.

My second project was a co-curated exhibition of 1970s art and artefacts from the University of Lethbridge Art Collection and the Sir Alexander Galt Museum and Archives. Through this project I learned how to navigate the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery’s database to search for relevant artworks and select work for an exhibition, how to handle and display art objects, and how to draft and finalize text panels and exhibition statements, as well as how to do a media interview for the exhibition.

These projects gave me the opportunity to develop practical, hands on skills that I can take with me into future job opportunities in the art sector and gave me confidence to embrace tasks no matter how different or difficult they may seem. It encouraged me to promote my abilities and to be confident in my capacity to complete tasks.

Present
My current internship at the University Art Gallery is a more integrated role within the gallery’s “behind the scenes” activities, with an emphasis on working with the collection and preparing for exhibitions. I look forward to developing my skills further in the gallery and becoming more competent, in terms of installing artworks for exhibitions, preparing them for loans, as well as shipping, cataloguing, storing and condition reporting them. I think being involved in a more “hands-on” capacity with the gallery’s daily activities will be a well rounded experience that will complement the skills I acquired through my previous internship.

Also, I look forward to getting more experience using the gallery’s database, as it is a new system since my previous internship. Given that this database is the one most commonly used in galleries across North America, being able to navigate it effectively will be an incredible asset in the workplace.

Future
It is my hope upon completion of my degree next December to ultimately work in the commercial arts sector at first as a gallery/curatorial assistant and eventually perhaps as a commercial art dealer. Through hands on experience with art objects (handling, condition reporting, cataloguing, storing and installing) and promotional pursuits in my internships, I will be more adept at these skills and will have previous experience and a pre-existing skill set to take into my future career.

Maria Livingston
Image: Maria Livingston (left)discusses Sharing Stories, Bridging Cultures: research and education projects drawn from a collection of portraits by Nicholas de Grandmaison, the exhibition she curated for the Helen Christou Gallery.

I am currently completing my undergraduate degree as a Native American Studies major and this will be my fourth internship at the U of L Art Gallery. I am a Cree woman from Northern Alberta and have always had an interest in art. Through courses I’ve taken and experience with internships, my appreciation for Aboriginal art and contemporary art practices continues to grow. I have always connected with various forms of art, especially work by First Nations artists, because I can relate to the subject matter personally.

Most of the work I’ve done with previous internships has been focused on an oral history project which serves to enhance the collection of works by Russian-born artist Nicholas de Grandmaison. He was an artist who created many portraits of First Nations people in Southern Alberta, making his collection an important part of local history. This semester, my focus will be to curate an exhibition within the gallery’s satellite space, the Helen Christou Gallery (February 13th to March 27th, 2015). This exhibition will bring various materials and information together from the collection and promote ways to use oral histories/storytelling to encourage intercultural relationships.

Ultimately I would like to encourage my appreciation in others through my own work, whether that includes curating, teaching, sharing or creating art. My long term goal within art galleries would be to encourage and foster growth of First Nations arts and artists. I find I have a growing passion for the arts that I am sure will continue throughout my life. The projects I’ve worked on have given me experience with conducting research projects, curating, public programming, writing, and public speaking skills and, this semester, learning more about art collections. I’ve been very fortunate to combine my passions for art and my culture within this internship and to gain valuable experience.

Michelle Silvestre
Image: Michelle (right) takes gallery visitors on a guided tour of the U of L’s Papokan Sculpture Park as part of “Sculpture Walk”, a co-op with U of L’s Wellness & Recognition to promote physical activity on campus.

I’m excited about entering into my second internship with the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery this semester. After completing my first internship, I feel the skills that I gained are invaluable to my self-development and especially to my career development. I’m looking forward to building upon the knowledge that I gained in the AHMS courses through the internship program’s practical approach.

An aspect of the internship that appeals to me is working with, and learning from, various employees of the art gallery. I enjoy witnessing and being involved with the roles attached to positions such as the Director/Curator, Registrar, and Public Programmer. That said, most of my interest lies with developing, organizing and delivering Public Programming activities in various settings on and off campus. My most notable assignment this semester is going to be the “Sculpture Walk”. For this I will be researching, choosing and then highlighting sculptures and installations in the University’s Papokan Park to a group of interested people.

As an artist, I know that having the knowledge and experience in how to deliver public programming in order to engage the public is an ability that is important to possess. As such, I look forward to the challenges of the internship program and recommend it to anyone interested in the arts.

Morgan Bath
During my internship in the Spring 2015 semester, I am hoping to gain further work experience in contemporary galleries as well as to improve my skills in writing and administrative aspects of a gallery along with a better understanding of the work that institutions, such as the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (SAAG), have to do in preparation for exhibitions. Working with the (SAAG), I hope to gain training ‘behind the scenes’ of exhibitions including public relations, selection of exhibitions, organization, and correspondence. I plan to utilize the knowledge gained from the obstacles that they encounter and take that into my own professional studio practice. If I have a better understanding of these types of procedures, I am hoping that this will be a step in the right direction in organizing exhibitions of my own, as well as a better knowledge-base to obtain employment in the Fine Arts field.

I have previous experience in exhibition installation from courses at Georgian College that included the set up and take down of group and solo shows. Since September 2013, I have been working at the SAAG as the Installation Technician as well as volunteering at various galleries and artist run centres. During the summer of 2014, I had the opportunity to take an Applied Study called ‘Exhibition Management’ for Cindy Baker’s MFA Thesis exhibition as well as an internship with Mountain Standard Time’s Performance Art Festival in Lethbridge where I was the Festival Assistant in September of 2014. My writing experience is not as extensive as my installation experience, but I have some experience writing exhibition and scholarship proposals. This is the best time I will have in my career to really focus on these skills with critical and constructive feed back from curators, artists and grant writers and I plan to take full advantage of this opportunity throughout this semester and especially during this internship.

My five-year goal in my artistic practice is to continue working in galleries while developing my studio practice and increasing my network of artists. I will work towards exhibiting regularly over the next five years while obtaining residencies and grants. Over the next six months, I am focusing mainly on the business side of my practice and improving my skills in writing applications for grants and residencies. Within that time, I will also be working towards a solo exhibition and a large-scale traveling research art project. I am passionate about what I do and I am excited to have course credit for the time to invest at the SAAG.

Taylor Chilton
Image: Taylor Chilton putting the finishing touches on labels for for her co-curated show Video Killed the Radio Star.

Upon entering into my internship at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, I find myself in a position of new opportunities and challenges for growth within the museum field. My main project for this semester is curating an exhibition in the Main Gallery and the Helen Christou Gallery selecting from works in the collection that were produced in the 1980s. Learning the processes that go into planning and executing an exhibition will be part of my project. These will include such tasks as utilizing the gallery’s database to identify and select works that fit the theme of the show as well as researching and writing labels for the works and installing the exhibition.

In addition to working with the collection for the 1980s exhibitions, I also look forward to learning more about specific collection tasks that occur behind the scenes in the gallery setting such as the specific care and preservation of art objects or the proper handling which is essential to maintaining the works.

As well as helping to co-curate the 1980s exhibition, I will be participating in U of L Art Gallery public programming activities by contributing to the Culture Vulture Saturday program which provides activities that relate to current exhibitions for participants. This part of my internship will enable me to see another side to the gallery/museum world which is very much an important factor, engaging with the public.

With all the knowledge and experience that I hope to gain over the next few months, I anticipate finding it useful going forward into a career in the gallery/museum field. I see myself at some point in the future with a position in a museum that allows me to work with art and/or historical objects.

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