Posted on Monday, July 27, 2009
Art history major Meggie Schmidt '10 is making abstract art accessible to children and families at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) this summer, working for the Family and Children's Programs Department through PMA's Museum Studies Internship Program.
Schmidt's work often takes place in the Summer Family Studio, which offers revolving art projects based on pieces in the museum's collection. The projects help families acclimate to the studio environment and encourage children's creativity and inventiveness.
"My favorite project was a curtain made of flower petals and ribbon inspired by Jim Hodges' "Every Touch" in the Contemporary Art gallery," she reflects. "It is amazing how the art projects are a launching point; each child uses the available materials differently to create entirely individual projects. I especially appreciate how our art projects make more abstract pieces in the museum accessible to children and their families."
Schmidt also creates museum tours for families, a process which includes choosing the featured pieces, conducting research, and developing questions. In June, she wrote a tour on Impressionist Art, and is currently working on a tour of American Furniture. "I enjoy walking through the galleries during the beginning of this process, discussing with my supervisor which pieces will excite children and help them learn. We often imagine the galleries from their point of view, squatting to a child's height in front of a painting to imagine the art from her or his perspective," she explains.
The rewards of her internship are "endless," says Schmidt. "The Internship Program is so well-organized, and has incredible stature in Philadelphia and internationally. I am producing valuable work for them, which requires a high level of creativity and quality. I am constantly meeting important people in the museum, and have the opportunity to ask them individualized questions about their career trajectory. I am so fortunate."
In fact, one of her favorite experiences was a Museum Studies session with Modern Art Curator Michael Taylor, which took a tour through the Marcel Duchamp Gallery, in which Taylor explained his plans for the late summer exhibition, "Étant Donné." She has also toured the Conservation Labs in both the new Perelman Building and the Main Building, was able to view several pieces in the process of cleaning and restoration, and caught a sneak preview of the current "Adventures in Modern Art" special exhibition with European Art Curator Joe Rischel.
This internship, along with other positions at New Hope Arts in New Hope, Pa., the New York Council for the Humanities, and the Holburne Museum of Art in Bath, England, has made Schmidt confident that she belongs in the arts. She hopes to apply for more museum jobs, including internships, fellowships, and entry-level positions, to gain more experience in the art world.
Schmidt thanks her professors in art and in her minor, women's studies, who have been "instrumental to my experience at HWS and preparing me for the professional art world." While walking through and teaching from the galleries, she constantly draws from "African American Art and Woman as Image and Image-Maker" with Professor of Art Elena Ciletti, "Art Since 1960" with Professor of Art Patricia Mathews, "Narratives in Asian Art" with Associate Professor of Art Lara Blanchard, and a Geneva Collaborative Internship at the Geneva Historical Society, during which she was advised by Assistant Professor of Architectural Studies Kirin Makker. Schmidt is also grateful to Trustee Peter Miller'86, managing director of Miller Investment Management, who networked on her behalf.
"I have taken such diverse classes in art history that it has really broadened my understandings of world culture," Schmidt says. "All of my art history professors, as well as past visiting professors Rebecca Otis and Fisher Center Fellow Jillian Burcar, continually support and develop my interest in art and activism."
Schmidt's interest in Feminist Art History has sparked an Honors Project with Mathews and Assistant Professor of Women's Studies Alison Reddick. An active member of campus, she co-founded the Arts Collective, is a member of Women's Collective and Learn 2 Lead, past member of Laurel Society, and a supporter of HWS Live. She works at the Red Dove Tavern in Geneva and studied abroad in Bath, England in fall 2008.