Catching up with the Interns
What is your academic/professional background?
Tessa Brenan, Summer Festival Ambassador: I am a fourth year School of Art student at the University of Manitoba working towards a BFA in Art History, and eventually a Masters and PhD. I have an interest in New York Dadaism as well as Italian Renaissance, and hope to continue my degree with a focus on either of those time periods. I am a part of the School of Art’s student committee SOFA as a Senator for SOA in the University Senate.
Sarah Mihychuk, Collections Inventory Assistant: I took Applied Museum Studies at Algonquin College in Ottawa. This offered me a hands-on approach to dealing with culturally significant objects. I am currently working towards an undergraduate degree in Honours Art History at Carlton University with the goal to obtain a Masters in Art Restoration.
Audrey Bews, Collections Inventory Assistant: I am currently in my last year finishing an Honours History Degree at the University of Winnipeg. After I complete it, I want to continue my history education by pursuing a Master’s degree.
Ben Wilson, Summer ARTCamp Director: I have a BA in English Literature with a minor in Acting. I also have a BA in Journalism. I worked at a wilderness camp for five years and use that experience to bring creative programming to the WAG.
Why did you want to work at the WAG?
Tessa: I jumped at the chance to return to the WAG for a second summer and gain further work experience in a gallery setting. Though I hope to work as a professor eventually, I know there is immense value in working directly in the art world and learning what goes on behind the scenes.
Sarah & Audrey: We both wanted to work at the WAG to gain firsthand experience in the museum and art gallery world. We both completed internships at the WAG in Conservation (Sarah) and Curatorial (Audrey). We knew before we applied for the summer position that the WAG was an enjoyable place to work and learn new things.
Ben: I wanted to work at the WAG because of the Gallery’s connection to Winnipeg’s history and culture. I was fortunate enough to be taken to a lot of art galleries as a child. My parents believed exposing me to as much art and culture at a young age would inform how I viewed the world. Over time I came to appreciate those visits and now that I have an opportunity to work in a place that celebrates artistic expression, I couldn’t be happier.
What do you enjoy about your position?
Tessa: I can do a little bit of everything, which I love. My position is shared between the Learning & Programs as well as Engagement & Advancement departments. I have represented the WAG through holding kiosks at local festivals, guiding tours, attending Gallery events, fundraising work, and even helping with the ARTCamps. It makes for a well-rounded experience and allows me to develop a diverse skillset for the future.
Sarah & Audrey: This summer, our role has been to inventory the WAG’s entire Inuit art collection, which includes thousands of sculptures, prints, wall-hangings, and paintings. Our daily undertakings include reading a lot of tiny numbers on objects, precise cataloguing, and photographing various art pieces. It is fulfilling to be able to locate objects and organize the database in a way that is useful for other staff members in the WAG. We also get the rare chance to be surrounded by unique works of art all day.
Ben: I love that I get to work with kids every day in WAG Studio and empower them to be as creative as possible. I can’t draw, paint, or sculpt with any skill, but letting the kids’ minds run free is really rewarding. At the end of the day, if a child has had fun at WAG ARTCamp while learning something along the way, we’ve done our job.
What is your message for peers wishing to pursue a career in the arts sector?
Tessa: If you see an opportunity you are interested in, even if you don’t think you’ll be selected, apply. I had originally applied thinking the odds seemed slim, given I was only in my second year of university, but it happened. I would never have worked here had I not taken a chance and put myself out there.
Sarah & Audrey: Yes, do put yourself out there! Many opportunities depend on networking. Go to events, volunteer, and make a business card. Summer grant positions offer many employment options for students. Research what types of jobs are available and which would be of interest to you.
Ben: Don’t hesitate to apply for a job even if you don’t consider yourself artistic. I’ve done a lot of performance-type work, acting and such, but am no Picasso. I applied because I love working with kids and knew the WAG would be a unique place to work. Be yourself and trust that your enthusiasm and ideas are the most important thing. You don’t have to be an artist to work in the arts.
Stay posted to learn more about the WAG’s second ArtWorks Symposium, coming later this year! It will be a free day of immersive workshops on careers in the arts for students aged 15-25 led by industry professionals with a networking luncheon. Watch for details at wag.ca/events.
The WAG thanks our ongoing partners Young Canada Works, Canada Summer Jobs Grant, and Urban/Hometown Green Team for supporting employment opportunities for students and youth, and helping to build a strong and sustainable arts sector in Manitoba.