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Carroll Student’s Internship Unveils Opportunities in Art World

Cara Olson Artist Painting Carroll Community College

In Fall 2023, Carroll student Cara Olson embarked on a journey into the world of art curation when she undertook an internship opportunity for Carroll’s art gallery in The Scott Center. This comprehensive, hands-on experience expanded her knowledge, honed her skills and kindled a passion for gallery work that now serves as a foundation for her future endeavors.

The inception of Cara’s art curation internship was sparked by an email from Jessi Hardesty, Carroll’s Chair of Arts and Humanities, summoning Visual Arts program students in good standing to seize this unique opportunity. Cara emailed her back and, following a virtual meeting with Hardesty during the winter break, Cara was accepted into the internship.

Under Hardesty’s mentorship, her responsibilities encompassed a spectrum of gallery operations, most notably assisting in setting up “The Illustrated Human” exhibit (which showcased the work of tattoo artists), helping Hardesty decide which pieces should go on certain walls, taking photos at the opening reception and other tasks.

“The ideal candidate for the gallery internship is someone who is passionate about a career in the arts and who is curious about what goes on behind the scenes in an art gallery,” explained Hardesty. “I usually have just one intern at a time, but 2-3 students could potentially do the internship together.” 

Students taking part in this internship primarily shadow and assist Hardesty during gallery installations and de-installations, gaining valuable experience with installation technique, wall painting and exhibition design. Interns also act as docents during gallery openings.

The Craft of Art Curation

One of the main things Cara learned was how to hang art at eye level. “To find the eye level for a piece, we measured the piece’s frame height, measured the distance of the piece’s hanging point(s) to the top of the frame, subtracted that amount from the frame’s height and then added that number to 60″,” Cara explained. “We then used that measurement on the wall to mark where we would put in the nails to hang the frame.”

Cara Olson Art Mask 1 Carroll Community College
Art mask created by Cara Olson

As part of her internship, Cara also performed a self-directed portfolio project throughout the semester, for which she crafted animal masks inspired by Slavic mythology and Indigenous folklore. “My masks are made of cardboard, and I will be adding papier mâché over them and then painting them,” she said during her internship.

While managing time to work on her personal project posed a bit of a challenge, Cara found some unexpected benefits of her art curation internship. “It is a lot more laidback than I expected,” she said. She also did not initially realize how much freedom would be given to her on deciding what her personal project would be. “I thought I would have to draw pieces for my project. I was glad to find out I could choose to make pretty much whatever I wanted to.”

Eyes on the Art World

The art curation internship not only fortified Cara’s passion for gallery work but also equipped her with practical skills transferrable to her future pursuits in the art world, including mounting frames and shipping artwork. “It can be hard finding art-related jobs and experience, and this internship is a way to build your résumé up.” The internship is also convenient since it’s on campus, making it easier to integrate into a student’s bustling college life.

After graduating from Carroll this spring, Cara intends to transfer to an arts college in Fall 2024. “I am currently looking to transfer to Pennsylvania College of Art and Design,” she stated, “where I plan to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in illustration, minor in business management, and possibly also minor in graphic design.”

Jessi Hardesty’s guidance and the multifaceted nature of the art curation internship provided Cara with a holistic understanding of art gallery operations that will serve to propel her towards a career in the field. Cara also noted that, in addition to internships, there are numerous ways to get involved with the College and the community, from joining a club or the Student Government Organization, to volunteering to help at a local event or business. “There are lots of opportunities and resources available at Carroll,” Cara said. “You just have to seek them out!”

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