Art students and professors tour New York art scene

Over fall break, 13 Colby art majors and three Colby faculty members traveled to New York City on a Colby sponsored trip. The trip, made possible by the Mirken Family Endowment for Education, allowed students to explore the art world by taking them to one of the most exciting art hubs in the United States. This year, trip coordinators Mirken Family Postbaccalaureate Fellow in Museum Practice Francisca Moraga López, Assistant Professor of Art Marta Ameri, and Associate Professor of Art Gary Green selected New York because of its rich art history, hundreds of galleries, and variety of museums. This is the second year the trip has been run.

Taylor Peterson ’16, one of the students on the trip, explained her interest in spending fall break in New York: “I was excited to visit and re-visit many of the museums we saw and to meet people—some Colby alumni—who are involved in the arts. I thought it would help me work on considering what I might want to do after Colby.” Luckily for Peterson, the itinerary included museum visits, gallery explorations, and meetings with Colby alumni from the New York art world.

Over the course of the weekend, students visited the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney, and the Museum of Modern Art PS1. For Kate Alden ’16, visiting the Museum of Modern Art was a highlight of the trip. “I really enjoyed going to MoMA the first night. There were exhibits featuring famous Dada paintings, adjacent to new modern interactive performance exhibits. It was an eclectic mix and I really liked that,” Alden said.

For other students, the Museum of Modern Art PS1 was a favorite. “We got a private, in depth tour of the empty museum as we got to see their new exhibition (“Greater New York”) be installed,” explained Peterson. “PS1 is located in an old public school,” she continued, “so the space is incredible and features uncommon exhibition spaces such as stairwells and an old boiler room. Our guides there were so enthusiastic and besides giving us a tour, were very willing to talk about their experiences working in a museum.”

unnamedIn addition to museum exploration, students were able to meet Colby Alumni currently working in the arts. At Debra Bell’s photography gallery on the Upper East Side, students met with Kat McElroy ’13, a current employee of the gallery and a past employee for a New York auction house. At The Whitney, the group met with Kayla Zemski `09, who currently serves as The Whitney’s special gifts coordinator. Professor Green thought the mix of art-related professionals was especially important, saying: “each person we talked to offered a different perspective on the professional art world. For instance, it was really interesting to hear Kayla talk about the financial side of the art world, as opposed to the curatorial side.” Jacob Zheng ’16 also appreciated the opportunities to speak with recent alumni, saying “I really enjoyed the conversations that we had with the two recent NESCAC alumni at the Whitney, since they offered career information that was very relatable to us.”
The trip also included a visit to the studio of Peter Soriano P ’16, a contemporary American artist and parent of Francesca Soriano ’16. Alden especially enjoyed these trips to private galleries: “I’m an art and computer science double major, and I’ve been considering careers in web design and graphic design. I had the chance to see how private galleries operated and their experience with web sites. I got very inspired and am thinking about taking more non traditional art classes to finish up my major, particularly ones that give me more experience in design!”

For Alden, the trip has already helped shape pieces of her future. “I think all art majors should go on this trip, even if they are on the fence about a career in art. I learned a lot of valuable information about how the major can translate over into many jobs.

However, as much as the trip was about networking and career opportunities, it was also about connecting with other art majors. For Professor Green, this was the highlight of the trip. “The first night we were there, we had a terrific dinner at a pizza restaurant in Midtown. It was a great ice-breaking opportunity to get to know everyone on the trip. It is so important to have both studio art majors and art history majors together. This trip was really about being together as artists and exploring the art world in New York.”