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The Art of Interning

Whitney with Senior Educator Sara Segerlin and Events Coordinator Kris Holland in the Angels & Tomboys photobooth at Art Night Out.

With a personal history that has kept me in Bentonville for 21 years, I take the well-being of my hometown seriously. I remember my elation upon hearing they were putting an art museum here! Never in a million years could I imagine my hometown would become a hub for American art that would be on national news for being noteworthy, but here we stand today, bringing people from all over the world to Northwest Arkansas. I became more excited for opening day, 11-11-11, than I was for Christmas! The day came and I eagerly explored the halls like a kid in a candy store. I became a regular visitor and proud Original Member from that day on.


Whitney with Senior Educator Sara Segerlin and Events Coordinator Kris Holland in the Angels & Tomboys photobooth at Art Night Out.

Whitney with Senior Educator Sara Segerlin and Events Coordinator Kris Holland in the Angels & Tomboys photobooth at Art Night Out.

Looking for reasons to spend more time at my new sanctuary, I found an advertisement for the College Ambassadors program organized by Senior Museum Educator Sara Segerlin, and sent my application in. After joining CBCA, I applied for an internship and was offered a spot in the Public Programs Department focusing on Adult Programs. So, now that I’ve reached this point in my dream of making the Museum my home, I am asked one question … a lot:  “what’s it like to work for Crystal Bridges?”

I have to remind myself sometimes to take a deep breath before responding, in order to avoid the panicked look I get in return to my knee-jerk immediate, emphatic, energetic response of adoration for my temporary job. Once I’ve taken this breath, I explain that it is hard not to enjoy a job where everyone else you work with equally enjoys their job. And, boy, it shows. Truly, ask anyone who works here how they feel about working at Crystal Bridges. They all love their jobs. You see it when the volunteers gladly answer the same question for the twentieth time, just today. You see it in the effort the culinary department puts in every bite of food that they release into the gastronomical world. You can’t help but notice the devotion-like thought put into the placement and framing of every painting on the walls in the galleries. And the best part of my internship is I get to see ALL of this, behind the scenes.

Dancer Karen Castleman performs an interpretive dance in the Museum's Twentieth-Century Art Gallery.

Dancer Karen Castleman performs an interpretive dance in the Museum’s Twentieth-Century Art Gallery.

Dance in the Gallery My internship was in the Public Programs Department focusing on Adult Programs, and I came at a great time! I assisted with almost every Adult programming event that Public Programs orchestrated throughout the five week period. One of the projects I loved seeing come to fruition was the Art Talk on Martha Graham. It featured Dayton Castleman presenting a discussion on Martha Graham and was accompanied by an interpretive dance performed by Karen Castleman. The event also introduced me to one of the best perks of being an intern: meeting the artists and performers of our events, one-on-one. It truly is amazing to be surrounded by people capable of such talent as those who come to Crystal Bridges; and as an intern helping with the events, it’s as close to being a part of an “entourage” as you can get in Northwest Arkansas!

Members of Afrique Aya celebrate Nick Cave's Soundsuit in the gallery.

Members of Afrique Aya celebrate Nick Cave’s Soundsuit in the gallery.

First Solo Flight Then the time came for this little bird to fly solo…sort of. One evening, we held an art gallery Intersection event featuring Afrique Aya and their exploration of the Soundsuit by Nick Cave. Sara was very trusting in allowing me to be mostly responsible for the event on the day of, which plunged me headfirst into program coordination. She did the planning of the event and arranged the time, place, entertainment, and concept. My job was to handle everything on the actual day of the event. This included bringing the group in, setting up the space, getting the audience to the right place, introducing the group, escorting the group out, and bringing the event space back to pristine gallery condition. Flying solo was a little intimidating but it was helpful to know I had Public Programs Manager Janelle Redlaczyk there to step in if the need should arise! If not for the great support of volunteers, and security staff, the event wouldn’t have gone as well as it did, so a huge part of the success of the event goes to them.

Photo Booth at Art Night Out Our major event while I was in attendance was the Rite of Passage Art Night Out. I was responsible for assembling and executing the photo booth at the event. I was instructed to create a photo booth that would go along with the “Angels & Tomboys” theme.  It was fun going through props here at the museum and at home to see what really caught the spirit of angels and tomboys alike! There was one major obstacle that we had to overcome: the photo booth area couldn’t accommodate anything hanging from the walls or ceiling, so I had to get creative about how to set up a backdrop. All I can say is that it is so good to be in an era with Pinterest and all of the DIY people on the internet who helped inspire the photo booth you may have seen that evening! A big thank you, too, to the volunteer photographer, Tim, and the wonderful guests of the event who made the photo booth pictures so much fun to go through! It’s the details like this photo booth at Crystal Bridges events that really leave the guests with some great ways to connect to the spirit of the museum and the event. These are the details that make people who attend the events feel a part of the family. I am beyond thankful for the chance I had to work in such an inspirational institution and with such wonderful people. And, I would like to say an especially big thank you to Sara for letting me tag along while she worked her magic!! Now that I’ve had a chance to work at Crystal Bridges, I need to dream a new dream!

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