This summer, student interns with the Washington and Lee University Collections of Art and History (UCAH), located in the Reeves Center, were assigned a project designed to highlight the diversity of art displayed on the W&L campus.
"I think a lot of times people consider artwork as wallpaper. They just walk past it," said Katie Gardner, former curatorial assistant at the Reeves Center, and instigator of the project. "In addition, people assume that most artwork on campus is portraits of former presidents, professors or members of the Board of Trustees. But W&L is very fortunate to have a wide range of collections."
Gardner asked the interns to roam around campus and randomly select two pieces of artwork that drew their attention. "I think that, when you've declared a major, you can spend the majority of your time in only or two buildings. So not only did they get to see the artwork, but they also went into every space on campus," said Gardner.
The students then researched the pieces they had chosen. "We are an academic institution," pointed out Pat Hobbs, associate director of university collections. "So we had them do background research. As a result, oftentimes their impressions of the objects evolved from their initial gut reaction into a more intellectual understanding of the pieces."
The Reeves Center summer internship is an annual program that is highly selective. "This year we had 17 applicants, and we could hire only five," said Hobbs. "And it's not just for art majors. Our student interns had a wide variety of majors, such as Japanese language, Chinese language, math, physics, philosophy and history."