Intern Spotlight: Art history major balances two internships while sharing knowledge with community
Editor's note: Intern Spotlight is a Ball State Daily News series profiling Ball State students and their internships. If you have any suggestions as to who we should feature next, send an email to email@example.com.
A senior art history major spent the summer driving hour-long commutes from Muncie to Noblesville, from one internship to the other, researching art and sharing their knowledge with the surrounding communities.
Joan Seig accepted the challenge of working two internships simultaneously, one as an education program intern at the David Owsley Museum of Art (DOMA) and the other as the guest experience coordinator for Nickel Plate Arts, a community art organization in Hamilton County.
“I was asking myself why did I do this and bite off more than I can chew?” Seig said. “It was an adjustment for sure. It was a little hectic at first getting into the groove of things. Ultimately, it was all about the experience.”
When Seig first came to Ball State, they had plans to become an animation major, but they soon realized they were “more interested in learning about art rather than making it.”
Since the second semester of their sophomore year, Seig has been a docent for DOMA, leading tours around the museum.
“If I hadn’t been a docent before, I probably wouldn’t have felt comfortable enough with the museum and with the people who work there to even consider an internship,” Seig said.
Additionally, Seig helped create the DOMA Project App during their previous museum studies class. Writing and editing blurbs about works of art featured in the app helped Seig get into the mindset of making research at their summer internship “concise and readable by anybody.”
“What good is what I learn if I can’t share it?” Seig said.
Seig spent their summer mornings at DOMA researching particular objects in the museum’s collection of more than 11,000 works.
They would then compile their research into an art object summary, also called formal thematic and contextuals (FTC), describing a piece’s cultural background and time period. The FTCs would be discussed at team meetings and then revised based on group feedback.
“It’s good to have that kind of quick-thinker who’s reading what’s in front of [them], has an idea of what the object is and knows what more [they] want to know— that was Joan,” said Tania Said, director of education at DOMA. “[Joan] was always leading discussions about the art object summaries and contributing to the success the research that other team members were doing as well.”
Beyond researching, Seig also had the chance to share their knowledge about art by helping plan public programming events for both the Muncie community and the Noblesville community with their internship at Nickel Plate Arts.
Aili McGill, executive director of Nickel Plate Arts, reached out to Seig in mid-April with the opportunity to be their guest experience coordinator for the summer since Seig had previously interned there when they were in high school.
Since cutting back staff last fall, McGill said that Nickel Plate Arts had been struggling to “have enough manpower and enough people on board to keep everything moving” before Seig joined their team.
“Before Joan came on board, we all felt like we were putting out whatever fire or the worst crisis at the moment,” McGill said. “With Joan on board, everybody was able to soak into their jobs and focus on quality a little bit more, which was a big relief for all of us.”
During Seig’s internship at Nickel Plate Arts, McGill said Seig was someone who would “keep the mood light” at community events and was very engaging with guests.
“[Joan] was very sensitive about trying to take care of other people’s needs, which is exactly what we wanted from someone who’s being our greeter and an ambassador at community events,” McGill said.
Seig said they learned just how important public programming is when connecting the public to local art and artists while organizing public outreach events such as Festival on the Green in Muncie and Maker Faire in Noblesville.
“Nickel Plate Arts is all about promoting local art and artists throughout the communities they serve,” Seig said. “I was interested in really getting in touch with the community and bringing them in the realm of art in general and getting them in touch with creative expression.”
Even though both internships have ended, Seig is still one of six students on the education team at DOMA, working as a program assistant.
In the future, Seig said they would like to have more internships to “dip [their] toes in different waters and see what else [they] might like.”
Even though Seig is unsure of what they would like to do after they graduate, Seig said they could see themself working at a nonprofit organization like Nickel Plate Arts “where the focus is 24/7 being a part of the public and getting them in touch not only with art history or art but also artists living in their communities.”
“With anything I do in the future, keeping the community in mind and creating programs for them [where I] will be able to share what I know is definitely important to me,” Seig said.
Contact Nicole Thomas with comments firstname.lastname@example.org.