By Julia Waldow
New York City gallery owner Wendy Olsoff understands the troubles that studio art and art history majors may face upon graduating. After toiling through late nights memorizing slides and perfecting their portfolios, students depart with diplomas in hand, not entirely sure how to pursue their passions.
“I think that people who study art history and art may only have a vague idea of how they’ll make a career in the future, and I think that there’s a lack of information on campuses ﾅ for art students and art historians about what the world is [like] outside of the academic institution,” Olsoff, co-owner of P.P.O.W. Gallery in Chelsea, said.
But Olsoff promises to offer hope and expertise to any Kenyon students worried about their future career paths in the arts.
In what she describes as a “practical lecture,” Olsoff plans to inform students about careers, graduate school, summer internships and resum?s in her talk “Art and the Real World,” today from 4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. in the Gund Gallery.
“We have a lot of interns and artists coming here, wide-eyed, thinking that they’re going to get a job in a gallery and all of a sudden be able to have some sort of career,” Olsoff, who has co-managed her contemporary art gallery for the past 30 years, said. “I think it’s important that they have a sort of reality check that is an eye-opener [that also serves as] positive information … that there is a possibility that you can have a life in the art world or be an artist or be a curator.”
Prior to graduating, students should take advantage of the opportunities Kenyon provides to help put Olsoff’s ideas into practice, according to Associate Professor of Art History Kristen Van Ausdall.
“There are so many different arts-related institutions that our students have found interesting, from galleries, auction houses and museums ﾅ to everything in between,” Van Ausdall wrote in an email. “Current art history students regularly undertake internships and externships at some of the world’s most interesting arts venues ﾗ locally, nationally and internationally ﾗ and Kenyon alums have developed careers in a wealth of visuals arts fields, each according to their individual passion[s].”
Like Olsoff and Van Ausdall, Kenyon students find value in holding open discussions about the most effective ways to gain experience on a given career path.
“I think that it really helps kids after they leave the small world that is this wonderful hill,” Max Pierce ’17, who plans to go into a field with either studio art or art history, said. “It’s important to make sure that students not only get to pursue what they love, but also find ways to be successful.”
Olsoff stresses that all Kenyon students interested in a career in the arts should ask themselves why they want to be in the field and closely evaluate their answer.
“If you’re going to be an artist or a curator, you have to have a deeply passionate commitment to that field for the rest of your life,” she said. “It’s a 24/7 lifestyle. It’s not really a job where you just go to an office and go home. You’re part of the art world and what it means to be part of the world is that it’s your world.”
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