Arts internships: good for you

“At Williams I study the results of creativity; I wanted to be a part of that creative effort through film production,” said Katherine French ’02 of her eight week internship at Altar Rock Films, a small, independent film production company in New York City.

Although the College is full of organizations and activities that offer glimpses into the world of the visual and performing arts, the alumni sponsored internship programs offer dozens of students the opportunity to experience the art world beyond campus. This not only allows students to put to practice what they have learned but to direct how they want to pursue their remaining time at the College.

At Altar Rock Films, French worked in an intimate atmosphere, learning about the creative, logistic and fiscal aspects of producing a film. According to French, “I was not sequestered into one department and, consequently, my experience was more complete.” In choosing an internship, French, an art major, was interested in participating in the process of producing a major work of art, regardless of medium. One of French’s responsibilities included researching for a, yet unwritten, screenplay. This even involved speaking with a detective from the Beverly Hills Police Department.

Gaining recognition or success is of course a difficult goal to reach for aspirants to the film industry and the art world as a whole. “I learned how many scripts are written, how few are produced, and the difficulty to become one of those produced,” said French. This is an aspect of the art world that is often removed from the perspective of traditional museum work, which focuses primarily on established artists.

Megan Voeller ’01 experienced firsthand how young artists may emerge into the art world. She interned at Smack Mellon Studios, a non-profit exhibition space designed specifically for the showing and promotion of young and underrepresented artists. According to Voeller, “my overwhelming impression from the summer was that while the sheer number of young artists in the city makes for blood-sport over jobs, it also has created a community that can be really supportive.”

Voeller worked closely with the staff of the gallery in order to install the summer exhibit. “The show I helped with this summer showed some of the youngest artists they’ve had yet,” said Voeller. “I’m not kidding when I say that for some of them it was their first show after graduate school or in New York, which was very exciting.”

Although Voeller experienced the work that goes into the exhibition of art, she also gained insight into the work that is required of the artist. Voeller, an art and philosophy double major, said, “The experience did give me a more focused idea of what I need to be doing now and in the near future – i.e. building the portfolio, getting a job.”

Judd Greenstein ’01 has often introduced new movements in the art world to the College, through articles in the Record about new music and Free University classes on listening to music. This summer he got the opportunity to work directly with musicians whom he has long admired while interning at Bang on a Can. An important element in the contemporary music scene, Bang on a Can merges the sounds of rock and roll with contemporary Western art music. According to Greenstein, “their mission is wonderful: getting a new audience for engaging new music.”

While working on the Bang on a Can web page, Greenstein gained valuable HTML experience. Greenstein, a composer himself, also garnered an intimate perspective into contemporary music through established and active participants in this movement. “I got to know them as people, not just as names in the paper or bodies who walked up on stage after a killer performance.”