Audrey Libatique ’22, Leina Fieleke ’21, and Walker Shadle ’19 share how the Allen Memorial Art Museum‘s Practicum in Museum Education course helped them think about careers in the art world.
We got to listen to students in the course showcase their expertise during their final presentations on a piece of their choosing in the museum’s collection.
Listen to the episode:
This episode is narrated by Erin Ulrich, and includes interviews with Audrey Libatique ’22, Leina Fieleke ’21, and Walker Shadle ’19.
[Theme music playing in background]
Erin: This is “An Oberlin Minute,” an audio series dedicated to highlighting the inspiring work of Oberlin students, faculty and staff. We’ll be getting an inside look at the pulse of Oberlin by exploring research, performances, and everything in between.
Erin: In this episode, we are going to be taking a closer look at the Practicum in Museum Education winter term in the Allen Memorial Art Museum. This course provides students with an in-depth exploration of the museum’s collection, as well as an introduction to museum education and gallery teaching. Students will not only learn about career paths in the arts, but also develop an object talk at the culmination of the winter term.
[Background noises from interviews]
Erin: We interviewed three students in the practicum who shared their experiences in the course.
Audrey: “So, I took a class in Western art history my first semester and I really loved it, and I thought it was really inspiring.”
Erin: Audrey Libatique is a first-year at Oberlin.
Audrey: “So, coming into Oberlin, I sort of knew I liked museums because I had an internship where I lived in L.A. in the museum education program there and I knew that I liked that, so when I came here and I knew there was this great museum, I wanted to be involved. And then I saw this winter term and I was like, that’s perfect. This course is oriented both toward docent training and toward... career paths. So, I think that one of the really important things it does is that is allows people to come in who work at the Allen and sort of in other places to talk about their jobs. It’s really important to have the ability to sort of talk to people in the field about what they do. And then the second part is there’s been a lot of mock job interviews or talking about ... how you get your resume. And I’ve been considering things in career paths that I haven’t considered before and have been thinking a lot about what it means to have an art career.
Audrey: “I had never thought about working in a museum education program and I think this has opened my eyes to... how much is done in it, and I think that’s really exciting.”
Audrey: “The amount of avenues you have just by studying art is really incredible. I did an object talk and I chose the Yoruba Torso Mask, which is the one in the ambulatory.”
Audrey: “It’s a torso piece of a woman’s chest ... a pregnant woman. It’s for a festival called the Gelede, which is in Yoruba, in Nigeria, and the whole concept of that is to honor mothers.”
Leina: “I took Themes in Western Art with Erik Inglis my first semester and I went to Erik’s office hours and I was like, I don’t know if I love you as a teacher or if I love art history, and he was like, well there’s no harm in taking another class. So, I took another class and then I also really loved that class, and so I kind of just kept going.”
Erin: Leina Fieleke is a sophomore and an art history and psychology double major.
Leina: “I think it is really different to say, oh, this is what museum education is like and then on the other hand, to meet different people who are working in museum education and seeing their similarities or even their differences and how maybe you could or couldn’t fit into that kind of job or with those kinds of people.
Leina: “I was listening to a podcast the other day where this woman was saying she never wanted people to feel not intelligent enough to learn and I think taking this practicum has made me think a lot more about that and how museums can seem like spaces that aren’t for everyone, but I’m working to make that...I guess maybe seem less as...a hoity-toity image...and a place to learn and that no one is not smart enough to learn.”
[Sounds of feet crunching on snow, people talking in background]
Walker: “It’s just all white, fresh snow.”
Erin: “Okay, is this it?”
Walker: “Yeah, so, low ceiling for the carport, no garage, just goes right…”
Erin: “During the winter term, we sat down with Walker Shadle, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences who also gave us a tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Oberlin, in which part of the Practicum in Museum Education course takes place.”
Walker: “Art is a very interesting way to study history and for me, it really grounds things in the way that other methods don’t. I’ve just had a really great collection of professors too...so, the Allen, I’ve always known about, obviously. It was one of the main reasons I chose Oberlin...and so we talked to a couple of curators, we’ve talked to Nick Petzak from the fellowships side of things and Katie Solender, who is the interim director of the museum right now. It’s been a really rich volume of people. The way I think of it is, I’ve done a fair number of extracurricular stuff, but most of the career exploration I’ve done has been in the classroom. So, as I mentioned before, I’ve done a fair amount of work in the psychology department, which I’ve really, really valued and has helped me a lot in my art history major. I am among some of the only students here who have one major and no minor.”
Walker: “Is everyone situated? Okay.”
Erin: We sat in on students’ final presentations, in which they practiced giving an object talk on a piece of their choosing in the museum’s collection.
Walker: “The young woman here, who is special—indicated by both her crown and her halo—Mary with the halo, and Jesus who has a halo and then two angels. And so, this whole marital ceremony happened in a vision. It’s a symbolic marriage between St. Catherine, who devoted herself to Christianity and... the infant Christ. As an architect, Peruzzi had to do a lot of shape rendering and negotiations of geometrical forms. There are so many little circles...there’s a window there that’s circular and halos...”
Erin: “To learn more about what takes place at Oberlin, visit www.oberlin.edu/news. A big thank you to our student workers. The audio for this episode was engineered by Molly Thayer, Vu Nguyen, and Piper Hill. “
[Theme music plays in background]
Erin: “Interviews were conducted by Erin Ulrich and sound design and theme music were composed by Piper Hill and Claudia Hinsdale. Our graphic designer is Andrea Wang and this episode was coproduced by Yvonne Gay and Erin Ulrich in the Office of Communications. Special thanks to our consultant and Oberlin’s digital media engineer Kyle Hartzell. This has been ‘An Oberlin Minute.’ Thanks for listening.”
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