Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Paul Wackers, Painter

My name is Taylor Smith-Hams, and I’m a Sophomore Painting and Humanistic Studies major. Over the summer of 2013, I worked as a studio assistant for painter Paul Wackers. I contacted several artists in January and February of this year, people whose work I had both long admired and recently discovered. I sent out emails with my resume and cover letter, and Paul was the most interested of the artists I contacted. After several email exchanges and few phone interviews, Paul invited me to work for him in his Brooklyn studio from June through August.

In the studio, I completed various daily tasks including washing brushes, preparing panels, assisting with painting, purchasing supplies, documenting work, and packing and shipping work. As the summer progressed, Paul increased my responsibilities, eventually giving me broader painting assignments with which I had more freedom. I am most proud of these small projects, as they demonstrate the trust and respect I developed with the artist and expanded my painting abilities.

Interning with Paul was a valuable experience that exposed me to the realities and challenges of life as a working artist. I gained useful skills, particularly in regard to art handling, and picked up several new painting tricks and techniques. I also had the privilege of meeting several of Paul’s artist friends who were kind enough to talk with me about their respective work and careers. My time in Brooklyn gave me a realistic picture of a fine art career and solidified my goal of combining art with the other fields I am interested in, particularly politics and public service, to build a rounded, diverse professional life.   

Random House Children’s Books

My name is Sarah Jacoby and I am an Illustration and Printmaking major. Random House Children’s Books is the world’s largest English language children’s trade bookpublisher. Schwartz & Wade is a smaller children’s book imprint at Random House. I was not familiar with Schwartz & Wade until Rachael Cole, Art Director, came to speak to the Illustration Practice Program in the fall of 2012. As an illustrator who is interested in creating picture books, I was just becoming familiar with imprints that I respected at that time. Schwartz & Wade was very high on my list. I made an effort to introduce myself to Rachael the day she spoke at Mica and applied for an internship that winter. After an in person interview at their home office in New York, I was hired.

During the summer I worked closely with Stephanie Pitts, the editorial assistant at Schwartz &
Wade. My general duties were the following:
• Read and report on submissions
• Read unsolicited manuscripts
• Scan and package original art from illustrators
• Attend all relevant department/division meetings
• Maintain our social media presence on Facebook and Flickr
• Administrative, editorial, and design duties as assigned

I particularly enjoyed being in direct contact with authors and illustrators like Sophie Blackall,
Stephanie Graegin, Chris Raschka, Red Nose Studio and many others. I was able to contact
them, handle their art and give general feedback. This experience truly gave me the sense of
what it’s like to create a book with a major publishing industry from the very beginning. It also enabled me to understand the nature of art direction at a children’s book imprint. This experience not only helped me to understand how this industry works, but the nature of working and living in New York itself. I recommend this internship to anyone who is interested in both art direction and the publishing industry.

Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM)

My name is Samantha Grassi, I’m a Junior Painting Major. However, after taking Intro to
Curatorial Practice, I realized that a career within a museum environment would be a fulfilling
and, in my eyes, very practical use of my painting degree. This summer, I was the Exhibits Intern at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM). Originally, I was interested in an internship at the Hirshhorn, so I began that application process. To apply for any fellowships or internships with any Smithsonian institution, you must apply through SOLAA (the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment System). This is where I found out about the SAAM internship, as they have a page dedicated to Smithsonian internship opportunities. The SAAM Summer Internship Program is designed for students interested in working in a museum who have not yet built up a resume in the field. I decided to apply at the last minute, despite that I had never been to the museum before. And I am so glad that I did! Even though I found out about the position late, I
worked hard on my application, and submitted all of the required materials (a statement, resume,
letters of recommendation, and I included a business card to give them the opportunity to view
my portfolio). Months later, I received a phone call by the Internship Coordinator, Judith
Houston Hollomon, offering me a position as the Exhibits intern! I originally applied for a
position in the Curatorial department, because after taking Intro to Curatorial Practice, I thought
that would be the “right” department for me. But after viewing my portfolio, Judith sent my
application the Exhibits department's way because she knew that I would be a much better fit for
that department. Thankfully, the department felt the same. I am so grateful Judith knew enough
to put me in Exhibits!

At SAAM, I worked predominately with Sara Gray, the Exhibition Assistant. But
everyone within the department- even within the museum- works so closely together, that to say
I only worked with one person is a dramatic understatement of my experience. I was lucky
enough to work directly side by side with David Gleeson, the Senior Exhibition Designer; Claire
Larkin, the Chief of Exhibits; Grace Lopez, the Graphic Designer; and even with members of the
Curatorial department (like the Chief Curator and her curatorial assistants). I was immediatelytaught how to use TMS (The Museum System) and AutoCAD- two programs avidly used by theexhibition designers. My experience within Exhibits was extremely hands-on and visuallyoriented, which was something I truly appreciate being a painting major. I was responsible formaking maquettes, elevations, and layouts on AutoCAD, checklists on Excel, and object packages on TMS. I also made labels as well as weeded and prepared vinyl lettering, which I then installed in the galleries for both the Democracy of Images and Landscapes in Passing shows. By far my favorite part of the internship was being able to “critique” the layouts with the designers, as well as the art works themselves. One of the steps within the development of an
exhibition is viewing the works in person one by one with a checklist, and making notes on its
condition, dimensions, color, etc. It was so amazing to be able to help make “compositional”
decisions of the space- what goes well with what, what doesn’t, etc. We were able to talk about
the pieces as elements of an even larger work- the exhibition. And the biggest plus was being
able to see the works outside of the context of the museum, on their own, without any visitors

Interning at SAAM was such a priceless experience. I loved everything I did there, and it
made me feel so much better about being able to get a job with my BFA. (Claire, the Chief of
Exhibits, is a MICA alumna and over coffee we chatted about how to advance my career as an
exhibition designer.) This internship was not only a resume builder, it was a giant learning
experience. I learned so much about exhibition design, curatorial practice, museum studies, art
history, the list goes on. I made great professional contacts, some who have also become good
friends. And the best part is, Claire asked me to stay on for the following year (fall ’13 to spring
’14) to take on the designing of a three-gallery wide exhibition. What more could I ask for!

Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET)

My name is Robert Soto and I am an Illustration major. At the start of the spring semester of 2013 I was hunting for an internship with a scientific institution. I was determined to get experience working with scientists of any kind to produce illustrations that would tell me if I had what it takes to make Paleo reconstructions for a living. After a few weeks of emailing various parks and institutions with no luck I spoke to a professor of mine who had told us that he started out doing nature illustrations for a Marine research lab here in Maryland. I asked if could point me in the right direction for an internship or make an introduction and within a few days I had a meeting with Dr. Al Place atIMET and was given the opportunity to be the first scientific illustration intern they have had. I was hired before I even walked through the door, Al had a lot of respect for my professor work and knew the advantages to having a scientific illustrator on the team.

The Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) is a joint University of Maryland institute that draws form the scientific community in Maryland. The scientists at IMET conduct marine and environmental research tocreate technologies designed protect and restore coastal marine systems and their watersheds as well as sustainable use of their resources and improvement of human health. The projects I was involved in had to do with assessing the health of a specific ecosystem as well as marine biomedicine.

I was very proud to be able to produce an illustration diagraming the digestive system of an Atlantic Menhaden, which did not exist previously. I was given the chance to go on a sample collection trip with a team out into the Chesapeake Bay to observe how they collect specimens and data. Because the internship was designed by myself, it was up to me to find the projects that could benefit from a professional illustration. I was given opportunities and resources but it was up to me to make something of my time there and benefit from being around working biologists.

This internship with IMET was more beneficial to my career then I ever imagined. I was not only given the chance to produce illustrations that were used in papers and presentations but made contacts in scientific and artistic circles. It was exactly the kind of hands on experience I was looking for. I grew as an artist and developed a discipline for research and the study of specimens living and dead. Being an intern at IMET has confirmed my eagerness to work in the Scientific Illustration industry, tested my resolve and work ethic and rewarded my efforts with the foundation of a real career. This internship gave me confidence and showed me a successful, professional version of myself.

Chad Tyler

My name is Reese Siedlecki  and I am  Drawing major. Initially I approached one of my drawing teachers, Lauren Boilini, about possibly being a studio assistant for her this summer. She was unsure at the time if she was going to be going abroad or not this summer for a residency in Europe, and when it was confirmed that she was accepted to the residency she told me about one of her studio mates at School 33 Art Center in Federal Hill, Chad Tyler. Lauren gave me his contact information and told me he would possibly need an assistant this summer for some of his projects. I sent him an e-mail inquiring if he did need one, and then sent him my resume and a portfolio highlighting sculptural work I’ve done since that was the nature of the art I would be helping him with. He promptly replied and accepted me as his intern, I met with him during spring semester to see his studio space, meet him in person, and to figure out a basic outline of when I would be working with him over the summer.
                  Chad Tyler is an exhibit designer for the National Aquarium but I helped him work on his own personal projects. Our initial main project wound up being set aside and we had to change our plans due to large projects Chad had to complete for his job in addition to Chad’s work being accepted into shows. So the two main projects I worked on were the Animal Kingdom: Untitled series and the Animal Kingdom: The General State of Things piece. For the General State of Things piece I was responsible for recasting and replacing all of the plastic animals used in the piece. For the Untitled series I plaster casted several sets of the animal molds to be used in the final compositions.  After finishing the plastic animals my focus shifted to completing the plaster casts. Chad and I constructed a wooden template to use so we could create different sized pieces for the Untitled series. Once I had casted enough plaster animals I was given the freedom to create final compositions of my own for the Untitled series. After casting the compositions into their plaster base I then shifted my responsibilities to cleaning and finishing the pieces I made so they would be ready for mounting. 
Working with Chad I learned so many new skills and techniques that I’m excited to bring back into my own art practice. I feel more confident now working with drills and saws and other materials I would have been apprehensive working with such as plastic resin. One of the biggest take-aways I have from this experience is overcoming the fear of asking for help from others. Chad was a fantastic teacher, he was very patient with me and was always there and ready to help me should I need it but never hovering over me. In fact Chad gave me a lot of freedom and really wanted to hear my input and suggestions for the projects we worked on. This experience has given me a view into one of many paths of an artist, as Chad manages to work in a full-time creative position while simultaneously working on freelance projects as well as his own independent art. In terms of helping me clarify my own career goals, it hasn’t necessarily narrowed down anything but rather it’s given me more options to choose from.

Anthony’s Park Mobile Arts and Recycle Center

My name is Amanda Almarshoud and I’m a Sophomore General Fine Arts Major with a prospective Minor in Art History and a Concentration in Sustainability and Social Practice. My 2013 summer internship was unexpectedly spent at the Anthony’s Park Mobile Arts and Recycle Center. While staying in Baltimore for a majority of the summer, I naturally took my extra time in the city to explore interesting areas. I stumbled upon Anthony’s Park Mobile Arts and Recycle Center in Highlandtown, right next to one of my favorite Indian/ Nepalese grocery stores. I walked into the center, talked to two women chatting about the neighborhood over drinks, and ended up spending the next half hour sitting and talking with them. One of the women, Nancy, was the owner of the center and said she was going to be selling merchandise ad running a workshop at a huge block sale called Blockenstein the next morning. I asked if she needed help selling items and whatnot, and she was delighted to have me help her. After that, I continued to come into the center to see what new events were happening, and what I could help with. I found Anthony Park to be in an extremely diverse community that worked with a variety of artistic ventures. I became her intern shortly after volunteering for her for some time.
When I first walked into the center, Nancy explained her new vision for the space. I was very excited to help her accomplish her goals. Nancy and I hosted workshops for the children in the neighborhood most of the time. When workshops weren’t being held, we would sell merchandise and organize supplies to make room for all the events she wanted to be held at the center. A large component of working at Anthony’s Park was immersing myself in the community and really getting to know the people that lived and worked in the area. I found being a part of this community was the most rewarding experience of my internship. Anthony’s Park serves as an encouraging, safe, and artistic environment for children, and adults as well. Having had the chance to contribute to the positivity in the community through art workshops and good conversation, I feel quite grateful.
Towards the end of my internship, Nancy and I conducted many off-site workshops for children in many different locations. I’ve never worked with children, so being able to facilitate their art-making process, happened to be an artistic experience for me too. Children are so open to new ideas. I realized this through watching them respond to my suggestions, reactions, and silliness. Also, I learned the steps taken to formulate, prep, setup, and conduct a workshop in classroom and festival settings. Learning how to create a fun experience for children in a variety of locations helped me understand what can be done in certain spaces and what can’t. This internship put me in a position to think about how others would experience making art. Now, I plan to use more emphatic elements in my artwork. I will also use my knowledge of offsite workshops in my public installation work. Though I don’t want to conduct children’s workshops in the future, I’d love to make installation that call for public interactions in interesting and alarming locations.

Yiull Damaso, Artist

My name is Tess Wypkema and I am a sophomore Sculpture major. A year ago I established contact on Facebook with Yiull Damaso after hearing about him from a friend. I asked him to look at my work and he responded and gave me a positive review. I decided that since I was going back to South Africa for Summer 2013, that I would send him a message and ask if he would let me intern for him and he thought that it would be a fantastic idea.

Yiull Damaso is an independent artist in South Africa. He primarily paints in oil and mixed rust medium. He owns a gallery space which also functions as his studio. His work is often political and he is well known in South Africa for painting portraits of Nelson Mandela. His controversial painting the “Night Watch” made headlines worldwide.  He has recently started curating and hosting shows for up and coming artists at his Gallery. Since Yiull runs his gallery single handedly, he was my direct supervisor and I spent most of my time with him – both of us working together.

Putting together Loyiso Mkezi’s solo show and opening night was the biggest part of this internship and what I am most proud of. Loyiso Mkezi is an up and coming artist from Cape Town and this show was his opportunity to be introduced to the Joburg art market. I was involved with compiling a mailing list, coming up with marketing strategies to attract the press and public, rearranging and preparing the Gallery, talking to sponsors and curating the show. Yiull involved me in all the meetings, discussions and decision making. Overall the show was a success and Loyiso managed to sell a good number of paintings. I was also involved in the everyday managing of the Gallery, assisting customers and updating the system.  A lot of time was spent curating Yiull’s work at different locations. I also designed posters for the “Release Nelson Mandela Campaign” and also went on a tour of Soweto (the area where Mandela grew up.)

The biggest take away from this experience was the connections I made and all the people that I was able to meet through Yiull. I had so many fascinating and helpful conversations with Yiull and all the wonderful people who were involved in his Studio. I learned more about how the art scene in South Africa functions, useful tips about pricing my work, more about South African politics and what works when setting up a Solo Show and opening night. Yiull Damaso is quite a character and this was a delightful experience that I will never forget. My only regret is that I didn’t have more time spend there and that I didn’t have time to try out his rust technique.

I think that this clarified that it can be tough being an Artist in South Africa, but that it is possible to do well. It confirmed that the South African art world is small and I think if I have a choice I’d rather work overseas where it seems like there are more possibilities for an artist.