It wasn’t a tour of art museums. It was a tour of art careers.
That was the opportunity offered to and taken by senior art majors over fall break, as alumni and friends welcomed students to the varied art world of New York City.
The four-day trip, organized by the Department of Art through an endowment created by the late Alan B. Mirken ’51, offered the seniors a chance to explore firsthand the careers of alumni in the visual arts and their associates.
“My idea was that it should relieve some of the anxiety of the seniors about what to do ‘when you grow up,’” said Professor of Art Véronique Plesch, who organized the trip with Assistant Professor of Art Bradley Borthwick and Associate Professor of Art Garry Mitchell.
The takeaway for students, Plesch said, is that there are many different art careers—and that the path to them need not be “a super-directed trajectory.”
Some of the alumni and friends came to their positions with museums, galleries, and art publications after trying other careers in and outside of the arts, she said. “These people, who are right now in great positions, didn’t go there straight.”
The seven seniors, along with Plesch and Borthwick, were introduced by an alumnus to Hrag Vartanian and Veken Gueyikian, founders of Brooklyn-based Hyperallergic, an online forum for “serious, playful and radical thinking about art in the world today.” That visit was followed by an introduction to the gallery hub of Manhattan, in Chelsea, and a gathering of more than 30 Colby art alumni, brought together with the support of the Colby Club of New York.
“It was a fantastic event,” Plesch said. “It was wonderful.”
Alumni extended a welcome at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where Sarah Braselton ’13 and Kat Herriman ’12 were hosts, and the New York Historical Society Museum, whose director, Brian Allen, led a tour, and then, with his husband, Steven Horsch ’94, was host for dinner at their home.
Also throwing open doors were Jim Ffrench ’85, director of Beauvais Carpets, a dealer in antique and collectible rugs, who showed some of his rugs, explaining their historical and artistic significance. The visit concluded with a behind-the-scenes tour of Sotheby’s New York, where Debbie Moerschell ’95, Sara Hutchins ’09, and Justin Cheung ’14 described the paths they took to the famed auction house.
The trip, which will be repeated this fall, was an opportunity for students to see “the contours of the art world,” Plesch said.