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Connecting With Art
Art history and humanities major Carolyn Bevans ’13 has a passion for teaching art and making it accessible. So her internship last summer in the curatorial department at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, supported by a Comegys Bight Fellowship, could not have been more satisfying.
“Every part of the experience was a learning opportunity,” she says. Bevans was able to dive immediately into research for an exhibit, still in the early planning stages, on art of the American West. She pored over the works of Thomas Moran, Carleton Watkins, Albert Bierstadt and William Henry Jackson, all artists who helped bring the great Western parks—Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon—to the public’s attention in the late 19th century. She had a chance to interview experts, and became fascinated by contemporary artists, like Mark Klett and Annie Liebowitz, who have revisited those vistas, revealing (as Bevans explains it) “the cultural palimpsest that the landscape has become.”
Bevans was included in weekly staff meetings and got to know many of her colleagues at the museum—at least in part because her desk was next to the water cooler! Through the museum’s internship coordinator, Judith Holloman, she was able to meet people on the staff who shared her interests, including the coordinator of the distance learning program, Artful Connections.
Now, as a graduate student in the museum education program at Johns Hopkins University, Bevans is working 20 hours a week as an intern with Artful Connections, in which docents use the museum’s extensive holdings to teach U.S. history and culture to students of all ages all over the country, using real-time videoconferencing. “Part of my job has been to help expand the program and I love it,” she says.
Bevans has done a half-dozen museum internships during her WC career, but, thanks to the Comegys Bight Fellowship, this was the first time she was able to work full-time, so she felt as if she became part of a place she regards as an American icon. “It’s an institution that has grown very close to my heart,” she says.