Featured Image Credit: Katelyn leading a tour with AFAN in 2017
I have spent the last year and a half working at the Kennedy Museum of Art, which means I had somehow managed to secure a position that introduced me not only to an amazingly beautiful building with a rich history, but a crew of supportive, informative individuals as well.
My sophomore year of college, I walked halfway across campus wearing a pair of old converse, sweaty from the climb up the hill, and took a seat in a very professional-looking office, in front of some very professional-looking people, and I thought to myself “Can I do this?”. All of my previous work history included fast food chains and an Amish bakery. How on earth did I expect them to take a chance on me?
But that’s exactly what they did. The kind staff at the Kennedy recognized my drive not as a passing hobby, but as a lifelong passion. My official title would be Outreach Program Assistant, a title I grew to love and would eventually have a little trouble letting go of. I was immediately thrown into the riptide, being handed projects and to-do lists, and I absolutely loved it. I was hungry to prove myself, hungry for my work to finally mean something.
My very first project was an informational Art Encounter poster, which featured steps on how to dye a cloth bag with indigo. It was my job to scour the internet for credible sources and images, and piece them together with instructions written by a grad student working with us, and to make it all a cohesive set of posters. When they were finally printed, I couldn’t believe the amount of pride I had. I was overflowing. I was bursting.
I would go on to design many more posters for Art Encounters, Gallery Talks, events, and tours. That first year, especially in the fall, Sally Delgado and Lisa Quinn worked to help me get my sea legs in the art museum world. They were always flexible with my busy schedule, and always kept me included. By the time spring semester had rolled around, I felt so comfortable walking into the Kennedy that it felt like a second home. I’d grown to love the antique tiles on the floors, and the winding staircases.
Along with designing posters, I was also able to lead Art Encounter activities, guide tour groups, and even collaborated with other students to curate the final exhibit for the 2017-2018 school year. I had grown to love the building, yes, but I’d also grown to love the people I was working with. We had common ground to stand upon, and to this day I am still friends with those other students.
As time passed, I knew my days at the Kennedy were coming to a close. It seemed a little far-fetched, but I applied for another position in the education department. To my delight, I was hired back for a second year with a different position and title, this time as the Education Program Assistant. My tasks would be very similar, if not identical, to my tasks the previous year.
My second year at the Kennedy was simultaneously the same and different. My second year in the program felt more organized with more communication and less room for misunderstandings. This isn’t to say supervisors looked over our work constantly, waiting for us to make a mistake. There was a good amount of trust built between the student staff and the permanent faculty.
Unfortunately, I could not fulfill an entire second year with the museum as I was offered an internship at Walt Disney World in Florida for the 2019 Spring semester. I grew a lot as I worked at the Kennedy Museum of Art, not just in the artistic sense, but the professional sense as well. There are a lot of good memories I’ll hold dear to my heart as I move forward, such as the many tours I gave on the history of the buildings we now call The Ridges, or helping children assemble boxes to look like small houses. I’ll always remember my first Gallery Talk and my first exhibition opening. And I’ll always remember the kindness Sally and Lisa showed me, guiding me through my first steps in my own career path. With this job, I grew more confident in my decisions, and I’ve applied that confidence both in and out of the classroom.
For anyone considering visiting this museum, please do. It is rich in both its history and its exhibitions. It is a museum that cares for its visitors, employees, and artwork. It is a museum that tells the unsure college student “Yes, you can do this”. It is a museum for families and for individuals, for amateur artists and for professionals, for the young and the old, for locals and for newcomers. It is a museum for all, and I will always be grateful to that little brick building on the top of the hill.
by Katelyn Vesco