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Intern Insights: Gabriela Gomez-Misserian

Education Intern Gabriela explores the galleries with Gibbes Summer Campers.

I am a rising sophomore at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia and this summer, I am working as an Education Intern at the Gibbes Museum of Art! While I’m a bit uncertain of what exactly I want to pursue — too many things interest me for me to possibly decide right now — I have always known that I wanted artistic expression or the study of creative processes to be part of my education. I discovered the Gibbes Education internship through Pam Wall, a Washington and Lee Alumna and the Museum’s Exhibitions Consultant, who encouraged me to explore the position and apply. I was ecstatic when I was offered the internship, though I could not have anticipated what an unbelievable opportunity that this would be for my own personal growth and educational development.

Alongside the campers Gabriela leads, she has had the opportunity to explore Gibbes galleries and learn about the permanent collection.
Alongside the campers that she leads, Gabriela has had the opportunity to explore Gibbes galleries and learn about the permanent collection.

I am not native to Charleston; I grew up in the upstate in Spartanburg. However, I’ve always been drawn to this city and loved visiting with my family. Its rich history is visible through a walk on any street downtown. The beautiful range of architectural styles, incredible sweetgrass baskets on display, and many other characteristics unique to Charleston invited me to study them closer. There was so much to learn about this Southern city and the collection at the Gibbes offered me the perfect avenue to do so.

Growing up, I was always interested in Art History, engaging in creative expression and integrating myself into my artistic community. My house was full of exotic pieces of art from my parents’ travels: wood carvings from South America, vibrantly painted matryoshka dolls, bits of fabric dyed with radiant pigments from Guatemala, and collections of paintings and prints that my dad brought home from his hometown of Medellin, Colombia. These artworks also allowed me to study communities with a unique, detailed magnifying glass, enhancing my understanding through the observation of even the smallest details. I learned that I could examine how a particular group of people lived, evaluate where their values lie, analyze how they foster traditions, and interpret the environments which they called home through individual works of art.

I’ve spent the last four weeks with children ages four to ten in the Charleston community, working with them to prepare and create art projects, learn about local artists, and explore the impressive and beautiful collection in the two floors above our classrooms. The campers are always positive about the projects that they pursue, and I really enjoy helping to guide them in their artistic ventures when I can. One of my favorite jobs in the classroom has been wielding a heat gun to melt plastic plates and bowls that the campers had colored. Eloquently designed stripes, carefully placed geometric patterns, and animal figures folded under the heat as we mimicked glass-blowing techniques. The melted dishware resembled the gargantuan glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly, a renowned Washington glass artist.

In another week of camp, I joined Ana Maria McCaa in her Arte con Espanol camp, which infused Spanish language with art education. I was incredibly astonished by some of the youngest campers’ grasp of another language as well as the ability of new learners to absorb Ana Maria’s teachings. Peeking into visiting artist Julyan Davis‘s studio is another fond memory from camp. The children offered praise of his watercolor illustrations of mermaids for a work-in-progress story book, and their questions about his mysterious paintings of two sisters and a deceased relative were boundless. I really admired their genuine curiosity and interest.

Part of Gabriela's role as an Education Intern is to act as a classroom teacher's assistant, helping to lead and facilitate art activities and lessons.
Part of Gabriela’s role as an Education Intern is to act as a classroom teacher’s assistant, helping to lead and facilitate art activities and lessons.

I have also had the opportunity to join the campers as they climb the polished staircase to go on a gallery tour with a seasoned tour guide and educator. Though I’m helping with teaching the campers as an Education Intern, I am always happily finding myself in the place of a student as, each week, I learn something new about a local artist or work in the gallery. I appreciate the fearlessness of the students’ questions, the creative interpretations they offer, and the keen observations recounted aloud to the class.

Unifying the artistic process with art education is not only incredibly effective in allowing students to better understand a work of art, an artist, and their community, but it also allows for creative self-exploration and cultivates imagination. Camp has been so much fun, and day after day, I always look forward to seeing what the campers will make next. Five of the eight weeks of camp have already flown by and I know August will come before I know it, and I’ll be sad to leave Charleston. I have already learned so much from this experience, and I am so grateful to be spending my time here. I look forward to going back to Washington and Lee and building discussions around my time at the Gibbes, an amazing museum with a wonderful educational program. I hope to use my experience as an intern to help guide my future studies and career choices. Moreover, I also feel confident in my understanding of art and art education has been enhanced by my own exposure and observation with the Gibbes program this summer, and I look forward to fostering a more informed dialogue about these subjects within and outside the classroom, both during my time in college and beyond.

— Gabriela Gomez-Misserian, Education Intern and guest blogger

Top Image: Education Intern Gabriela leads Gibbes Summer Campers through the galleries.

Published July 13, 2018


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