Department SpotlightMuseum of Arts & Culture Internship Offers Snapshot of Career Options for Whitworth Student
The black-and-white photos featured in a new exhibit at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture offered Whitworth senior English major Sid Friedman a colorful internship experience.
"I alternated between feeling nervous, overwhelmed, excited and exhilarated to have such a great opportunity," says Friedman, who developed the museum's "Spokane Memories: Photographs from the Permanent Collection" exhibit during a summer 2004 internship.
For the exhibit, Friedman narrowed down a collection of 80 photographs from the MAC's archive to the final 58 images, which he chose for both their visual and historic value.
"I was looking for photographs that would grab my eye and elicit others' curiosity to know more," Friedman says.
Once he selected the images, Friedman digitally reproduced all of the photos, wrote text labels for them, printed the images, framed them and determined how best to display them in the exhibit. Friedman put most of the exhibit together himself and worked occasionally with a project manager and a graphic-artist intern.
"This project was engaging for me because it required creativity, research and analysis, and seeing an abstract concept or vision through to a final realized product," Friedman says.
The historical photographs depict everyday life in Spokane and the Inland Northwest. Through the camera lenses of several local photographers, exhibit visitors can glimpse the historical events, leisure activities, ethnic diversity and daily life that thrived in Spokane from 1884 through the mid-1950s.
"The photographs are as much about people as they are about places," Friedman says. "I was surprised sometimes at how many of Spokane's great qualities have been cherished practically since its founding."
Many English majors take internships within the realms of writing and editing, but Friedman aspired to a more "non-traditional" experience, he says. Friedman began his journey into Spokane’s past by pursuing a MAC internship lead he received from Whitworth English Professor Doug Sugano.
Friedman’s background in art, photography and English provided the experience he needed to land the internship.
"Larry, my supervisor at the MAC, said that he was not looking for an intern, but when my résumé and letter of interest crossed his desk he thought that my education and background would be a good fit for this particular project," Friedman says. "There appeared to be no precedent at the MAC for an intern to be responsible for putting an entire exhibit together as opposed to just working on one or two aspects of a project, as most of the other interns were doing."
In addition to dealing with the technical challenges of producing the exhibit in a two-month timeframe, Friedman had to adapt to a new working environment; he had never worked in a museum before or been involved with exhibit planning and construction.
"Being an intern and new to the MAC, I had to be proactive about learning which people to talk to and collaborate with to complete important steps in the project," Friedman says.
The internship equipped Friedman with valuable skills and experience for his venture into securing a full-time job after his May 2005 graduation from Whitworth.
"The internship provided real work experience, where I had a lot of responsibility and autonomy to research and produce a multifaceted project, and other people were depending on my work being done well," Friedman says. "I feel great about having the opportunity to use both my English-major skills in writing and research, and many other skills and interests that I have in art, history, digital photography, design and layout."
The "Spokane Memories" exhibit will be at the MAC through spring 2005.