Lexy Madsen ’14 (Southbury, CT) is a history major and one of the department’s work-study students. Having studied abroad in Granada, Spain, last year, Lexy has embarked on a new adventure: she currently interns at the Currier Museum in Manchester, NH. One Thing after Another asked her about this unique experience.
Q: What is your internship like at the Currier Museum? What do you do in a typical day?
My internship at the Currier Museum revolves around research, although I do occasionally have the chance to participate in the programs and activities the Education department hosts for the public. At the Currier, my main task has involved conducting research for the Smithsonian Museum of American Art’s traveling exhibition: Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey:
I have also researched recent loans and acquisitions, along with art from the permanent collection, including works by such artists as Tiepolo, Miró, and Rembrandt. I then use this research to create teaching tools used by the Head Educator in docent training sessions. This task involves in-depth research so that the educator can understand the subject thoroughly while still remaining accessible to a wide audience of viewers with varied backgrounds in art history.
I occasionally participate in some of the many programs that the Currier hosts for the public. One such program is the Alzheimer’s Café, where patients and their caregivers are invited to the Currier for art-based discussions and activities. Another event in which I participated was a teacher-based training session on VTS (Visual Training Strategies) which provides teachers with the tools to start and hold a conversation with students regarding art. The main goal consists of sparking creativity rather than delivering an art history lecture.
Q: Many of our majors intern at the Manchester Historical Society or a law firm. Why did you pick the Currier Museum?
A: I hope to work as a curator in an archaeological or art museum upon completion of my master’s degree, and for this reason, I chose to intern at the Currier Museum of Art. When first applying, I chose the areas of Research and Curation as two fields where I would prefer to intern. Although I originally hoped to work in the Curatorial department, my placement in the Education department has fostered an amazing growth in my understanding, appreciation, and interest in a wide variety of art forms and practices. I have also had the chance to interact with other departments briefly including the Design department and Registrar.
Q: How did you get so interested in art? Was there a particular event or person who led you in that direction?
A: The catalyst for my love of art was visiting the Museo del Prado in Madrid when I was in high school. Francisco Goya’s Pinturas Negras series, as graphically horrid as it is, proved so emotionally provoking that I never thought of art in the same way again (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Paintings). In that one visit, my perception of art as something beautiful or something made solely for aesthetic reasons was shattered. I realized the incredible power and meaning that art can truly express. I understood the way in which an artist can start a conversation with the public.
Q: As a history major who is very much interested in art, do you try to find connections between the two?
I constantly find connections between art and history. Many people view art solely as a product of human desire for the beautiful, but I see art through a much different lens. When I look at art, I often think of the culture that created it. I find myself thinking of who the artist was, what troubles they faced, why they created the piece, and what was happening in the society around them. These questions are what interest me so much about Francisco Goya (1746-1828). Goya’s art changed dramatically over the course of his career, just as Spain was influenced by war and political upheaval. The effect of such an unstable society on Goya’s art was the subject of my senior thesis, a hybrid of historical and art historical approaches to the artist’s work.
I also understand art and archaeological artifacts as a means to study past cultures. This process was augmented by my participation in the Classic Department’s excavations in Orvieto and Castel Viscardo during my sophomore year. The excavation linked material culture with peoples I had only studied in textbooks or about whom I’d read in fictionalized accounts. Working with artifacts at the excavation in Italy helped influence my understanding of material culture as key to understanding history.
Q: Recently you received news about graduate school. To what programs were you admitted? To what career path do you hope these programs will lead?
A: I have been accepted to the the Art History and Archaeology Master’s program at Columbia University, the Master’s program for Art History at University of Texas, Austin, and the Master’s program for Art History and Archaeology from New York University. As I mostly applied for master’s programs, I hope to work as an Assistant Curator after furthering my education.