Alexandra “Alex” Trimm ’14

Alex Trimm with Professor Nancy MackoProject: Representing the 27 Percent: The Gender Gap in Contemporary Photography
Major: Studio art; art history minor
Grant: Mellon Undergraduate Research Grant
Faculty Sponsor: Nancy Macko, professor of art and director of Scripps digital art program

Most art enthusiasts tend to focus on the subjects and composition of their favorite pieces. However, Alex Trimm realized it is even more important to examine which artists’ works are actually displayed. Trimm received a Mellon grant in spring of 2013 to examine gender discrepancies between male and female contemporary photographers last summer.

“I was so excited when I received the grant,” she says. “I really wanted to dedicate my summer to research and have time without schoolwork to focus on contributing to inequalities in the art world. The grant was more than enough to cover a summer of independent study, and I’m so thankful Scripps helped me find this opportunity.”

In her research, Trimm focused on gender differences in both auction pricing and representation in museums and galleries, selecting New York and Los Angeles as key photography markets. And while she relied chiefly on published articles, data from gallery websites, and auction house results to substantiate her claims, Trimm also had the opportunity to conduct 10 interviews with experts in the field, including a collector of contemporary photography, a curator, an artist, and an auction house specialist, and several gallery owners. Ultimately, her research indicated there is a significant gender gap in this corner of the art world.

Trimm closely collaborated with Professor of Art Nancy Macko; together, they developed the list of art professionals to interview and together conducted the project’s first interview at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Throughout the summer, the two stayed in close contact and discussed the project via email, text, and phone.

“Professor Macko was the guiding force of this project,” says Trimm. “We would brainstorm topics, and she helped me figure out how to pull all of my research together.”

“It was a great experience working with Alex,” says Professor Macko. “She is an excellent researcher, and she gained a great deal of experience as an interviewer as a result of this process. At some points we were on opposite ends of the country because she was interviewing art professionals in NYC and LA, but being in different time zones didn’t interfere with our communication.”

Post Scripps, Trimm plans to contribute to a larger dialogue on gender by publishing her research. She continued to work with Professor Macko during the fall semester to complete a final draft of her research paper to publish and share her findings with the world.