BC Seminar: What Can You Do With An Art History Degree?
By Amanda Andries
This info-session was held on Thursday, Oct. 19, pre-Sandy, in a cozy room on the fourth floor of the Brooklyn College Library. “Beyond the Classroom” was organized by the Brooklyn College Art Department in conjunction with the Magner Center.
The all-female panel consisted of professional art historians from a diverse array of art-related fields. They each gave accounts of their experiences and journeys in the field of art history, and recalled what doors it helped to open for them after attaining their degree.
Maria Ann Conelli, Dean of the School of Visual, Media and Performing Arts at Brooklyn College, offered insight to the changing face of art history careers.
“Visual resources have become very technology-based,” Conelli said. “Photographs are now mostly archived online.”
Art history and technology are crossing paths to create more opportunities for graduates, expanding their range of career choices.
Another panelist, Christine Brennan, a Research Associate at the Museum of Modern Art, shared the novel way that art history became a focal point of her life.
“Initially I studied production management, which was a fairly new career path at the time. After college I was given the opportunity to travel abroad, and this changed my trajectory. I took a job at the Tower of London, and this altered my perspective,” she said. (The Tower of London is where she met her mentor, who influenced the rest of her life.) “Now I’m a collections manager at the Met. I’m the person who catalogues all of the pieces and I put them on the website.”
Alexandra Lange, an architecture and design critic and the author of “Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities,” implored the audience to take every opportunity seriously. Lange is a woman of many credentials: a blogger, designer, teacher, author, artist, and a PhD in Modern Architecture. She advises students to be flexible with their thinking and to pursue post-graduate studies so that they can specialize in a particular area of interest, thereby broadening their scope.
“I feel like I learned how to do all the things that I do well today, in grad school — how to meet deadlines, etc.,” she said.
Lange received her BA in Architecture from Yale, where she was also the arts editor at the college’s newspaper. After that, she landed a journalism internship at The New Yorker, and then became one of the talented and lucky ones to land a job at that same publication following her internship.
“I started out answering phones, and then they finally let me write,” she said. “Every magazine now has a blog, so if you would like to write about art, there are those options as well.” She added, “I encourage you to start a blog on Tumblr and use social media to even the playing field.”
Zavi Gunn of the Magner Center for Career Developement and Internships was also on hand to inform students of the role the facility plays in linking students with internships and other resources that can aid them in achieving their desired job. She advised all students to come by 1303 James Hall and to register for mentoring opportunities.
“We provide a range of career services for students,” she said. “They can partner with employers and faculty who can give them information and
Professor Jennifer Ball, who was also at the seminar, reiterated that the Brooklyn College art department has a wealth of resources and information for students who are unsure about their next steps after graduating. She also mentioned that the arts department has a blog (http://brooklynartdept.wordpress.com/) that can be consulted for more info and career resources.
The message of the seminar was poignantly underscored by Brennan who offered a nugget of advice to students pursuing a degree in art history or any other endeavor.
“Stay focused and keep moving forward. Look for different opportunities,” she said. “Try to distinguish yourself, and don’t give up.”
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