Student Spotlight: Rollins College Student Sophie Foster Shares What It’s Like To Be The Fred W. Hicks Curatorial Fellow at Rollins Museum Of Art

By on April 8th, 2024 in Working at Rollins Museum of Art

What is it like to work at Rollins Museum of Art? We asked Rollins College Honors Art History Major Sophie Foster ’24 about her experience as the Fred W. Hicks Curatorial Fellow at Rollins Museum of Art.

When did you begin working at Rollins Museum of Art?

I started officially working here in August 2023, as my senior year began.

What about Rollins Museum of Art enticed you to work here?

I was interested in working at the Rollins Museum of Art ever since I declared my major in Art History sophomore year. The opportunity to work with the museum’s large and diverse collection, especially with the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art, really influenced me in applying to work here. I felt that working at this museum would teach me a lot of transferable skills as I enter the professional art world. 

What was challenging about working at Rollins Museum of Art?

While curating and working on exhibitions can be creative and engaging, there is daily work that is necessary to do but does not always feel glamourous. This can include tasks like compiling information for deaccessions (when a work is removed from the collection). Sometimes it can feel a bit tiring, but doing this work is still teaching me a lot about the role of a curator. I’m grateful when it’s done and I get to focus on curating, art research, or writing! 

What is your favorite part of working at Rollins Museum of Art?

My favorite part of working here is that I feel like I’m learning a lot about art and artists through research that ends up really complementing what I learn about in class. I’m always learning about a new artist or art form or technique, and it’s eye-opening to how vast the art world is and how all art links together somehow. I appreciate the relationships I’m able to draw between works that may seem so vastly different. I also get to write about these artists and works, as I assisted with wall labels for the What’s New Winter exhibition and audio guides for works throughout the museum.  

You wrote informative, extended labels for works in Rollins Museum of Art’s Winter 2024 season exhibition What’s New? Recent Acquisitions. What was the process?

When working on the extended labels for the spring What’s New Exhibition, I did in-depth research on the works and artists. After this, I wrote drafts of the labels and worked closely with Dr. Gisela Carbonell, Curator at Rollins Museum of Art to edit them to ensure we were highlighting the most interesting elements of the works. It was a very informative process, since writing informative labels requires you to condense your research and promote questioning and curiosity on the viewer’s end. It was a very educational yet fun collaborative experience.

You’re curating an exhibition for the Summer 2024 Season at Rollins Museum of Art. How did that come about? Is it a standard part of your fellowship?

Painting of flowers in a vase

Curating an exhibition is a standard part of the Fred W. Hicks Fellowship, although I received the unique opportunity to work with works coming from a private collection. The exhibition, titled The Fantastical Mundane, focuses on Dutch Paintings from the 1600s, a period known as the Golden Age of Dutch painting. The still lifes, banquet scenes, and landscapes are all wildly gorgeous works with rich symbolism and themes that reflect the cultural realities and interests present at this time in the Netherlands and for the Dutch bourgeois.

Nicolaes van Verendael, (Flemish, 1640-1691), Still Life of Tulips, Convolvulus, Rose and Other Flowers in a Glass Vase on a Ledge, ca. 17th Century, Oil on Canvas, 15.5 x 12.25 in., Long term loan from The Grasset-Linares Collection

What was challenging about the curatorial process?

It was a bit intimidating to be curating an exhibition on Dutch Baroque Art when that isn’t my specific interest area in art history, and when I have not independently curated an exhibition before. Luckily, I quickly became fascinated with the artworks within my exhibition through the research process and when getting insight from the owners of the collection. On top of this the Rollins Museum of Art curator, Dr. Carbonell gave me amazing guidance and helped me feel confident in executing the exhibition.

What was exciting about the curatorial process?

I was so excited to take on a curatorial project that would be featured in the Rollins Museum of Art as an undergraduate— I feel like the opportunity to do this while getting a bachelor’s degree is not common. I also was so excited once I got to view the works I’ve been researching, since they’re so beautiful, have such rich history, and include subtle visual symbols that I only noticed when viewing them in-person. Overall, seeing all the elements of the exhibition come together has been so rewarding.  

What are your future aspirations?

In the far future, I hope to become a curator of contemporary art. To begin this journey, I will be attending Exeter University in the south of England to get my master’s degree in Contemporary Art and Cultural Management. I’d like my post-graduate research to focus on feminist art and how it relates to or informs visual representations of the human body. Working here has informed me on current contemporary artists and the discourses around contemporary art. This has helped me discover how much I love the curatorial process and everything that goes into the formulating of an exhibition.

Sophie graduates in May of 2024. We can’t wait to see what she does next!

View Sophie’s work in Rollins Museum of Art’s 2024 Winter and Summer Seasons

What’s New? Recent Acquisitions

On view through May 12, 2024 at Rollins Museum of Art. Admission is FREE.

View this exhibition virtually.

Annette Rawlings, (American, b. 1943), Summer Nudes – Yevette (detail) , 2005, Oil on linen, 18 x 24 in., Gift of F. Hawryliw. 2023.14 © Annette Rawlings

The Fantastical Mundane: Selections from the Grasset-Linares Collection

May 30, 2024 – January 5, 2025 at Rollins Museum of Art. Admission is FREE.

Marten Rijckaert, (Antwerp,1587-1631), An Extensive Wooded River Landscape with Travelers, Signed: MRyckaert.fecit, ca. 17th Century, Oil on copper, 13.5 x 20 in., Long term loan from The Grasset-Linares Collection

The Fred W. Hicks Curatorial Fellowship provides one Rollins student in their junior or senior year in-depth training in curating exhibitions within art museums. The fellow works with education and curatorial staff updating object files, assisting with writing didactic labels for pieces on view at Rollins Museum of Art and the Alfond Inn, scripting audio guides, and giving public tours, culminating in a year-end public capstone exhibition.

Leave a Reply