PSS Spring '09 - The Houghton House Renaissance

From Theory to Practice

HWS students put their education to work


Myles Hunt '11 chats with Grover at the Jim Henson Company in New York City.

Myles Hunt '11 chats with Grover at the Jim Henson
Company in New York City.

"Internship experience is extremely important for students looking to go into art or art history," says Professor of Art History Patricia Mathews. "HWS students have an advantage because we are a small liberal arts college-and a good one. Students at large universities don't have the academic range or the mentoring possibilities our students enjoy. Our students are confident and learn the material from many perspectives."

Arts and education major Myles Hunt '11 used those perspectives during his summer with the Jim Henson Company in New York City.

"It was fantastic," says Hunt, who worked primarily on building and sewing Muppet body parts. He also organized props and materials for the international Sesame Street characters and worked as an assistant on the set of a special Sesame Street program titled "Families Stand Together: Feeling Secure in Tough Times," which aired Sept. 9.

"Ever since I was a child I wanted to create and perform Muppets to family audiences," Hunt says. "After spending a lifetime watching and appreciating Jim Henson's work, I am proud to have been able to work in bringing the magic to families."

Hunt is spending the fall semester in New Zealand where he is working in elementary schools and, with help from the George Liston Seay '62 Grant, studying local puppetry. Hunt says that he hopes to gain a clear vision of how he can use puppets to teach children. "Teaching through art and laughter is one of the best ways to get through to young minds. My ultimate goal is to create my own studio and characters to get people laughing and learning."

Ashley Curtis '10 interned at Boston's Pucker Gallery.

Ashley Curtis '10 interned at Boston's Pucker Gallery.

Ashley Curtis '10, an art history major and European studies minor, also put her passion into action this summer-at Boston's Pucker Gallery, which features work from artists like Picasso, Matisse and Chagall, Inuit sculptures and Asian pottery, as well as a large collection of oil paintings by Samuel Bak. Among Curtis's responsibilities were taking inventory, creating appraisals and installing pieces. As she became more familiar with the artists, Curtis, who was supported by the L. Thomas Melly '52 L.H.D. '02 Endowed Internship Fund, was able to give tours of the gallery and work directly with clients.

She says that while she enjoyed meeting the artists, her favorite part of the experience "was being able to talk to Mr. Pucker and learn how he built his gallery, why he made certain choices. It definitely opened my eyes to the art world and how it works. It provided me with serious thoughts about where I'd eventually like to end up."

Like Hunt and Curtis, Sarah Olsen '11, who was supported by the John A. Ross '66 Endowed Internship Fund, landed a coveted internship in the arts, spending the summer at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

An actor and theaterlover pursuing an individual major in theatre arts and administration, Olsen worked in Corporate Sponsorship, where she was able to apply both aspects of her major.

"At Lincoln Center, I experienced what it's like to work with the world's largest performing arts venue," says Olsen. "Although I worked in Corporate Sponsorship, I also learned about a variety of other departments and their duties. I had the opportunity to see Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble. Working in the office as well as at events allowed me to expand the two categories of my major and define my future goals."

Also in New York City was Roger Arnold '10 who worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Though the Met is primarily known for its extensive art collection, it also houses several libraries, each with a distinctive focus. Arnold interned in the Robert Goldwater Library, dedicated to the arts of Africa, the Pacific Islands, and native and pre- Columbian America.

"It was great getting to see the intersections that small library collections have on curatorial departments," says Arnold, who is no stranger to libraries or art. During the academic year, he works in the archives and at the circulation desk of the Warren Hunting Smith Library. In the summer of 2008, he interned at the renowned Frick Collection in New York City, networking with Brian Nichols '89, the Frick Collection's information technologies manager.

Arnold, an art history and comparative literature double major, says that his internships at the Met and the Frick Collection allowed him "to engage with my area of study on a higher intellectual level."

"Most museum or gallery jobs require a master's degree now," Mathews says. "Some want a Ph.D. Any internships you can do prior to grad school will be all the more helpful and make you all the more competitive when you apply."


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