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An Artful Internship

May 21, 2018

Recent Art History grad, Nicole Kelly, immersed herself in the local art scene as an intern at the Duluth Art Institute. 

“I always say that those who can’t do, study,” states Nicole Kelly, who graduated from UMD in May 2018 with her B.A. in Art History and a Communication minor. She explains, “I love art, but I’m not an artist, so I study it. I’ve also always loved history. I think art is a good marker of history.” She is especially a fan of French Impressionism.

Before Nicole graduated, she was an intern for the Duluth Art Institute for almost a year. “I was directed to the internship with Duluth Art Institute by my advisor Dr. Jen Webb in the art history department,” she recalls. “She suggested that an internship would be a good next step for me. She put me in contact with the executive director.” Nicole started at the Duluth Art Institute in July 2017.

Nicole remembers, “It was a challenge to learn how the art community in the Duluth area works. That included getting to know the local artists, and also finding the local art hotspots.”

With the help of her coworkers, she quickly learned her way around. One of her primary duties during her internship incorporated the Duluth art scene through her organization and posting events on community calendars. Nicole posted on the Duluth News Tribune, Mn Artists, Explore Minnesota, and other local news outlets.

“I put in four to five hours each week at the office, and sometimes more if there was an event,” Nicole says. These hours were filled with diverse projects.

“I’ve done a little bit of everything. I’ve painted gallery walls, set up and taken down shows, contacted artists and written artists’ statements and bios, postcard drops, and magazine drops. I really got to see every aspect of a running gallery space.”

One of Nicole’s highlights of her internship was the Duluth Art Institute’s annual gala fundraiser. “It was a masquerade theme this year, held in the Glensheen ballroom.” She explains, “We had dinner and a silent auction. We had local artists at every table, and they created a mask to be auctioned off.”

All of the work that Nicole put into preparing for the gala and for other gallery receptions was rewarding, she says. “I had never been a part of something where we had all come together to create an event and then it was a success. It felt so awesome.”

Nicole’s future plans consist of “applying to everything everywhere, all the time,” she declares. She will be back in the Twin Cities, and she says, “I hope to get a job in a museum capacity in the Cities. I think that I’ll end up getting a job in the marketing or managing side.”

As she moves forward, Nicole reminisces on her time at UMD and the Duluth Art Institute. She concludes, “I’ve learned so much that I didn’t imagine I would learn.”

Visit the School of Fine Arts' Art History program website.