Art History Majors to Intern and Study at Sotheby’s and the Guggenheim
The future is blooming brighter than Van Gogh’s Sunflowers for three of Fairfield University’s Art History & Visual Culture majors. Seniors Michelle Rakowsky ’17, Shea Spiller ’17 and Isabel Telonis ’17 recently received the exciting news that each had been accepted into highly competitive programs at three world-renowned art institutions.
Rakowsky, a double theatre and art history major, will put her Italian minor to good use this October when she travels to Europe for a five-month internship at Italy’s foremost modern art museum, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. The extremely competitive, international internship is the only one of its kind in Italy, and out of last year’s 1,200 applicants, only 28 were accepted from the United States. Rakowsky, who studied abroad at the Florence University of the Arts last spring, will assist with the museum’s daily operations and take on a wide range of responsibilities that include preparing gallery spaces, coordinating educational activities and serving as a docent. She and her fellow interns will also benefit from a variety of educational opportunities that include participation in conferences and seminars, as well as cultural trips to art exhibitions and historical sites located throughout the country.
“I am very excited,” Rakowsky said. “I am looking forward to living in Italy again, especially doing what I love -- engaging in art and speaking Italian.”
Similar to Rakowsky, art history and French double major Shea Spiller is also lending her talents to the Guggenheim legacy. The Humanities Institute fellow is currently interning stateside at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, where she works in the department of institutional development. Following a competitive application process, the former Fairfield University Art Museum (FUAM) intern was hired less than 24-hours after her initial interview and has spent the past two months commuting to Manhattan. In addition to writing proposals, corresponding with donors, and researching funding opportunities, Spiller is also participating in the museum’s Wikipedia Initiative, which aims to increase the Guggenheim's online presence by providing comprehensive articles on the artists and movements featured in its collections.
“The research and writing skills that I developed during my time at Fairfield prepared me the most for my internship,” Spiller said. “Professors always underscore the importance of having solid communication skills in the ‘real world,’ and my internship at the Guggenheim has proven that to be true.”
A subway ride away from Spiller, fellow art history and French double major Isabel Telonis will begin her own adventure in NYC this fall. The former FUAM intern and recent Phi Beta Kappa inductee was accepted into the prestigious Sotheby's Institute of Art Masters Program in New York City, where she will concentrate her studies in Art Business. Located in one of the most important centers of the art trade, Sotheby’s offers comprehensive courses in art law, marketing and strategy, and finance for students seeking careers in the international art world. As part of her studies, Telonis will have the opportunity to network with art professionals across the world, and travel to local and international destinations, where she will visit art fairs, exhibitions and private collections.
“The most exciting aspect of this next chapter of my life is that I will be introduced to a completely new area of study,” Telonis explained. “I absolutely love art history, but now I will be able to foster the necessary skills to become a working professional in the field I love so much.”
Telonis, Spiller and Rakowsky all credit their internships and post-graduate opportunities to the support and encouragement of their art history professors, without whom, Telonis said, she would not be where she is today.
“We are so proud of our students,” said Dr. Marice Rose, Director of Fairfield University’s Art History & Visual Culture program. “They are hard working, proactive and creative individuals open to all kinds of experiences and opportunities. We are sad to see them leave in May, but know that they will go on to do great things.”