The Art of Internships

RCWG Interns

On a sweltering summer afternoon, Erin Hoey ’16 and Abigail Rodriguez ’16 painstakingly work to conserve a vital piece of Scripps College history: the pond and fountain in Seal Court. The art conservation majors remove and polish the tiny mosaic tiles covering the fountain’s walls, patiently buffing and cleaning the colorful pieces one by one while a white tent offers protection from the sun.

“This is my first time actually conserving art, and I like the hands-on experience,” says Hoey, a Wilson summer intern at the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery.

With hundreds of competing applicants from college campuses across the country, landing a paid art internship at the gallery is a coup, and the gallery’s six summer interns made the most of the experience. They learned about career opportunities in the art world by networking with established artists, conserving art pieces on campus by hand and helping gallery staff prepare for upcoming exhibitions.

The College’s summer internship program provides access to a wealth of unique work-based learning experiences. For the past 22 years, the gallery has worked closely with The Getty Foundation to offer the Multicultural Undergraduate Internships Program to three highly qualified college students. According to Getty guidelines, these internships are “intended for members of groups underrepresented in the professions related to museums and the visual arts, particularly individuals of African American, Asian, Latino-Hispanic, and Pacific Islander descent.”

Winning candidates can either research works of art and write about them for publication or conserve pieces of art; they also assist in creating an exhibition by actively participating in the process from curation to installation. This summer, the gallery welcomed Abigail Rodriguez ’16, Kahea Kanuha PZ ’14, and Sunny Zheng, a junior at Haverford College, as its 2014 Getty interns.

Abigail Rodriguez ’16, left, and Erin Hoey ’16 clean Harriet Tubman sculpture.

Through the generosity of alumna Jane Hurley Wilson ’64 and Michael Wilson, the gallery provides two additional on-site internships to Scripps students. The Wilson internship, also in its 22nd year, exposes its recipients to experiences in the fields of arts administration and art conservation; this summer’s interns were Eliza Lewis ’17 and Erin Hoey ’16.

Students may also apply for a Mellon Undergraduate Research Fellowship to pursue a specific research project. This year’s Mellon Fellow, Taylor Carr-Howard ’17, wrote about the photographs in the gallery’s permanent collection in preparation for an exhibition at the Clark Humanities Museum.

In 2014, 86 percent of the Scripps graduating class completed an internship as an undergraduate. Scripps encourages students to pursue internships to explore fields of interest, gain career-related experience, and apply classroom instruction to real-world situations.

Reflecting on the work completed on Seal Pond, Hoey says, “We’re conserving this now for future generations of Scripps students.”


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