Welcome, Bienvenidos!

Before I introduce myself, I think it’s fair to express my gratitude for those who will follow my research project through this blog.  To those of you who have read along with the Presidential International Scholars who have come before me, I thank you especially.  Wofford was already a special place and community to me, but since this door opened, I have found that the support and connections extend far beyond what I imagined.

The scholars who have shared their projects’ progress obviously approached this blog with their own styles.  It only seems right to preface this introductory blog with a promise–a promise to be transparent, earnest, and reflective.  My voice has been a work-in-progress since a sixth-grade teacher encouraged me to attend her extra-credit poetry workshop; later in middle school, an English teacher invited me to his creative non-fiction workshop over the summer.  At some point in high school, I began a personal blog, so at least the concept of blogging isn’t new to me! I will do my best to invite you into this world I’m living in, because if the work I’m doing is to mean anything, you’re the first ones who should be privy to my latest thoughts.

Now I’ll begin.

When I was 15, I met a girl in Honduras whose family could only afford for her to go to school until she was 10.  Two years later, I was diagnosed with a genetic condition that affects my fertility.  Throughout the years, I have been stunned speechless by the countless ways women in my life have been hurt and torn down.  Truly, my concern for the livelihood of women around the world has taken shape over time. I am also the great-granddaughter of a painter, the granddaughter of a cellist, and the daughter of an interior designer. Art has shaped the lives of women in my family for generations.  Art continues to shape my life in unexpected ways. These two themes–art and women–have defined the woman I hope to become: creative, expressive, strong, and feminine.

I’ll try to save some of the anecdotes for later blogs, but for now I’ll share the one that I believe set me on this trajectory.

Last summer, I interned with an educational social enterprise in Moshi, Tanzania with The Space (#whywofford).  The 10 weeks were quickly ending. It felt as thought fall semester was drawing near, even though I was still physically so far (7,000 miles) from campus as I sat around the pool at our go-to gym during one of our last weekends.  I was reviewing the courses which I had originally selected during registration; none of them seemed to conjure that same back-to-school excitement I have felt since the second grade.  I had already declared a Government major, so my semester was a balance of gen-ed’s and major requirements–plus a course for my Art History minor.  I took a course in Western Art that spring and made the easy decision to add the minor.  Art had long been an interest, a passion, a hobby, but I never felt it was “academic enough” to pursue it in college.

Me and my co-worker, Gladys, became good friends. Ironically, my host home here in Chile is named Gladys!

So there I was, sitting by a pool in Moshi, Tanzania, at the beginning of August, questioning my major (as college students do). I consulted my close friends, parents, and even siblings, searching for affirmation that switching to an Art History major was a good idea.  I started Google searching grad school programs, discovering tangents of art-related careers and paths–I even considered (briefly) transferring colleges for an Art Therapy degree.  I then emailed the department chair, Dr. Karen Goodchild, whose Humanities course I had taken in the fall, to see about switching my major.  She instructed me, casually and simply, to visit her in her office when school started up (did she sense my uneasiness?).  So I did, and then I switched my major. I signed the declaration with more assurance than I did the first time, even though with this path I had less concrete ideas about possible professions, yet at least as a Government major I conveniently defaulted to law school.

Law school should never be a default, nor is it “convenient”.

A tour guide for Wofford Ambassadors, I love when parents ask me, “So what will you do with an Art History major?” I like to pick a new answer every time:

“I see myself in academia, maybe as a professor, possible a college president?”

“I am still very interested in public policy, which is why I kept Government as a minor, so I’d like to continue my education with a Masters degree in something policy-related but art-focused.”

“I would love to manage a non-profit.  I think museum education is valuable, too, and so maybe one day I’ll greet you at the MET!”

The possibilities feel endless and inspiring, although I understand that it’s hard to imagine–let alone trust–that Art History could lead to a job after graduation.  But to that I assert that while Wofford is proud of its post-grad employment statistics, I guess that Wofford is far more proud of its identity as a liberal arts institution, one which encourages the study of humanities.   Secondly, this research opportunity has further proven to me that art can be and is academic.  My coursework allows me to study and better understand history through the periods’ art.  While I’m abroad, however, I’m excited to discover how artists are using art to make history–or rather, HERstory.  

With that brief introduction and explanation, I will draw this first blog to close.  I hope you continue to follow along.  I look forward to officially begin documenting what I’ve found so far.  It’s been a fast month here in Valparaiso, Chile, but I have just as quickly met artists, discovered some incredible street art, and even purchased a few prints that I can’t wait to share with you!

Just one of the faded posters I found on the wall of a building under renovation…viva la mujer!

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.