Since 1999, Arts Intern has provided college students interested in arts careers with authentic work experience at museums and cultural institutions in their cities. The program is designed to provide these opportunities for highly capable students who may not otherwise have such access. Arts Intern also enables museums and other cultural organizations to cultivate new voices and diversify their work forces across departments. In 2019, the program’s twentieth year, Arts Intern expanded to Memphis, Tennessee, and is now available in six cities.
Ciara Fisk, an Art major and Women and Gender Studies minor at the University of Memphis, was an Arts Intern at the Brooks Museum of Art this summer. Her primary responsibilities were to assist in the curation of their upcoming Photography in Memphis exhibition and the development of related educational programs.
(L to R) Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Chief Curator Marina Pacini with Arts Intern Ciara Fisk. Ciara presenting at the Photography of Memphis Exhibition, 2019. Ciara at the exhibition reception. [Photos: Talisha Ingram]
A key facet of the Arts Intern program is that interns obtain authentic, hands-on experience at their host sites. At the start of her internship, Ciara was unsure of what to expect, stating, “During the first week I was nervous… I feared that I was just going to be doing the ‘busy work.’”
However, she soon found herself feeling like a staff member. She began to work more independently as she tackled assigned projects and collaborated with others. She learned that communication and time management skills were key: “During my first few weeks, I quickly realized that meetings were a big part of running the museum and ensuring everyone was on the same page.”
Over the course of the summer, Ciara conducted research on artwork, wrote original wall text and labels, proposed layouts for parts of the exhibition, arranged and took part in interviews with artists, created a gallery guide, and developed plans for education and interpretive programs to complement the exhibition. Ciara’s co-workers and supervisors at the museum noticed and appreciated the extent and quality of her work.
Ciara did a great job on every task she was given; she was a joy to work with and I anticipate she will end up being a great arts professional.Marina Pacini, Chief Curator, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
When Photography in Memphis opened in the fall, Ciara was credited as a co-curator. She spoke at the exhibition opening and conducted a public conversation with one of the featured artists. The experience helped solidify her career path and bring her closer to the Memphis art community.
It was a pleasure to partake in this opportunity and give back to my community. I am proud to be credited as co-curator of this [Photography in Memphis] exhibition.Ciara Fisk, Arts Intern Memphis
Reflecting on her experience, Ciara says that, “As a studio art major concentrating in Art Education, I have had my perspective broadened to realize the importance of my degree, the importance of art history, and the possibilities I will have in the future… I am now very interested in becoming a curator for a museum or gallery in the future.