Every summer, Gallery 400 welcomes a Marwen Art at Work student for a five-week internship. Our summer 2018 Marwen intern, Sophia Clason, reflects on her experience at Gallery 400, her transition from high school to college, and her own art practice.
If I had to distill this summer into one feeling, it would be the feeling of slowly shifting gears, of steady machinery pushing and pulling and baking in the sun. The time following my high school graduation (which, conversely, felt rushed and panicked and blurry) has been one of those periods where I can feel myself lazily drifting from one point to the next, creeping through experiences with a warm kind of clarity for the little events and a more muddled sense of the overall picture. Along with many graduating seniors, I feel as though I’m in a strange sort of limbo between high school and college, a space where I finally have the chance to try to collect and reconfigure myself.
Towards the end of the school year I was reluctantly churning out artwork. Everything I made was either too rushed or over-thought, and though I lacked any genuine connection to most of what I was creating, I felt pressured to continue to make it. Art is a huge part of my day-to-day, so I wasn’t keen on completely abandoning my creative outlet, but it was becoming clear that I needed to take a break from art to recharge, or, at least, to try coming at my work from a different angle.
Sophia Clason, Obsession, 2018 (detail).
My internship at Gallery 400 gave me the opportunity to do just that. For the past few weeks I’ve been able to put my personal work to the side while still learning about and being surrounded by art. Through this internship, I’ve been introduced to new artists and topics and have been able to conduct research around upcoming exhibitions. I’ve learned about how galleries are structured from the inside, how art is curated, and how events are run. And I’ve even gotten to rethink the art that I make and its place in the world, so that I can begin to re-approach my own practice with fresh eyes.
On a more personal, skill-based level, working at Gallery 400 has taught me how to communicate with a larger group of people, how to jump between projects, and has given me a lot of note-taking practice. I’ve learned what it’s like to conduct research outside of academics, and I’ve learned how to practically apply the research skills I fine-tuned in school to an art related field.
Drawing by Sophia Clason
The five weeks at Gallery 400 have been an amazing opportunity to get real work experience in a field that I love, but that is difficult to approach from the outside. I’ve learned so much, both here and in class at Marwen, and feel more prepared than ever to transition between schools and cities in the fall. And I’ve gotten to have this experience in an extremely friendly, welcoming, and open environment, surrounded by amazing people.
As summer winds down, I’m ready to return to my own work with a clear head and a new perspective.