Undergrad Jennifer Delgado talks college, career and art conservation in the wake of a transformative internship with the High Museum.
The 2nd oldest of six siblings, Jennifer Delgado was the first her family to graduate high school and will be the first to graduate college this fall. A senior this year, pursuing a B.A. in Studio Art, she interned with the High Museum of Art in the Fabrication Department over the summer. She shared with us her thoughts about how the experience will put her on a career path to arts conservation and art handling after graduation.
Here’s what we learned:
College of the Arts: When did your interest in the arts begin?
Jennifer Delgado: I have always loved art. It was the one thing I knew I had a passion for growing up when my other siblings were into music or sports. We moved a lot when I was young, but art was something that stayed with me no matter what. So naturally, I knew I wanted to get more experience and have art be a part of my education in college.
COTA: How did you find out about this internship opportunity?
J.D.: I saw an email about the internship from the Welch School of Art & Design. As I learned more about the department intern positions that the High was providing, I became very interested in the Fabrications Department position. It was an opportunity to intern under Preparator of Fabrication Rainey Rawles, the head and only carpenter at the High, who also is very involved in the prep work at the museum. I was excited about the hands-on experience I would get in that department.
COTA: What were your expectations of the role? Was there anything you were hoping to learn while you were there?
J.D.: I actually came into the internship with some prior knowledge from my sculpture classes at Georgia State. I was most interested in getting a more in-depth experience with the machinery, creating projects in the woodshop at the museum, and learning the basic principles of designing, joining and assembling.
COTA: What kinds of hands-on experience did you get while you were there?
J.D.: Working in the woodshop gave me the chance to see first-hand what the preparators at the museum do each day. I got to help preserve some of the artwork, as well as lend a hand unpackaging and handling the art. I contributed in more significant ways by helping install and prepare for new exhibitions while uninstalling outgoing exhibits. For example, I was able to view and install the Maira Kalman exhibition, which has been incredibly insightful. It’s been a great opportunity to see all the details that go into preparing a show.
COTA: How would you describe the benefits of your internship as you start looking for a career beyond graduation?
J.D.: One of the biggest eye-openers was definitely the exposure to different departments within the museum. Meeting people with a passion for what they do in a variety of fields was so inspiring. The internship helped me see new possibilities for a career in the arts community, and many of the people I worked with have offered to help out when I start looking for a job.
COTA: What was the most important thing you think you learned during your internship? J.D.: I learned to keep an open mind about the future! By staying open to learning new skills, I won’t limit myself. Also, my supervisor, an active artist herself, taught me that I don’t have to leave my creative passion for a career.
COTA: If you had to give your fellow Panthers one piece of advice about internships, what would it be?J.D.: To look for information everywhere! Follow your school’s Facebook pages, check your school emails, follow local organizations on social media or just get to know people. It can be intimidating to put yourself out there, but it pays off if you meet the right person or people. Most of all, take a chance and apply. Even if you feel you may not be qualified, that’s what the internship is for – learning new things!
COTA: Do you have a game plan after graduating? What would be your dream career?J.D: The internship introduced me to the team at the Atlanta Art Conservation Center, a non-profit that helps conserve everything from personal heirlooms to cultural artwork. I’m looking into possible schools for art conservation, and I’m also interested in art handling and prep work for museums and galleries. I love working behind the scenes, but I am also starting to prioritize my own creative practice again. My dream is to work with art and make time to still be an active artist.