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Centenary student interns, curates exhibit at Norton Art Gallery

Anna Jane Storms, left, and Sarah Dupree

SHREVEPORT, LA — This summer, Centenary junior Anna Jane Storms turned an assignment from a freshman year course into not only a rewarding internship experience but also an innovative exhibit that is receiving rave reviews from museum-goers in Shreveport. Storms was one of two interns at Shreveport’s R.W. Norton Art Gallery this summer and co-curated “STRIKE: How the Newsies Made Headlines,” a special exhibition running through September 12.

“STRIKE” utilizes newspapers and public domain reproductions of photographs made by Lewis Wickes Hine during the 1899 newsboys’ strike in New York City, which served as the loose inspiration for the 1992 musical film Newsies. Storms and her fellow intern, Sarah Dupree, came up with the idea for their exhibition after discovering a shared interest.

“The guest curator series is all about using public domain images, so a lot of our early, broad ideas were narrowed down just from bot being able to find images we could use,” explained Storms. “Early into our internship, Sarah and I got coffee at Rhino (something we now do basically every day together!), and we listed everything we both liked, trying to find something we had in common. We both enjoyed musical theater, specifically the musical Newsies, and Sarah started becoming really interested in Lewis Wickes Hine’s photographs. She started pulling photos, and I started reading archived newspapers published during the newsboys strike of 1899, and it ended up turning into our exhibit.”

Storms, a native of Ruston, Louisiana, who is majoring in arts management with minors in French and museum management, took a class from Dr. Michelle Glaros during her freshman year at Centenary that required her to seek out someone with a job that she wanted, interview the person, and use their advice to develop her own career plan. Her internship at the Norton has pulled together many different threads of her intellectual and career development at Centenary, including elements of Centenary’s Trek program that guides students through experiential learning opportunities in Career, Community, and Culture.

“I interviewed Emily Feazel, the designer of exhibits and special events at the Norton,” said Storms. “This winter (a year after that project), I contacted Emily to see if there were any opportunities at the Norton for the summer, and she was kind enough to look at my resume. I was granted an in-person interview in the spring and have worked there since June. I studied museum controversies this past fall with Dr. Lisa Nicoletti, and having firsthand experience working in a museum has really helped me understand how much presentation or setting can affect the public’s relationship with the arts. My advisor also helped me receive course credit and meet my Trek Career requirement as well.”

Storms quickly learned that every day at the museum brought new challenges and activities, a reality that she found exciting and energizing.

“When I asked Emily about her job, she told me that she most enjoyed how different each day was to the next,” recalled Storms. “I definitely underestimated her! It was so much fun to walk into work and help lead a private tour, lay out an exhibit on the floor, have a staff meeting about upcoming events, maybe take photos of the gardens for social media, and then do something completely different the next day. The staff collaborates so well together because so many things are happening and being planned. It definitely takes a lot of organization and delegation for the museum to run smoothly.”

Storms plans to pursue a graduate degree in either art history or arts administration after graduating from Centenary and hopes to translate all of her experiences into a career in public programming or arts education for an arts institution such as a museum or a theater company.

“I love that museums are no longer stagnant, boring buildings but slowly becoming vibrant spaces where creatives gather for events, performances, and educational experiences,” said Storms. “Growing up, I deeply loved participating in theatre and art class, but I never really wanted to be an actor or an artist. I enjoy being surrounded by others’ creativity, but I, myself don’t want the pressure of having to constantly create. My hope is that I can create an environment in which the arts are explored and protected, supporting other artists to enrich our communities.”

More information about the R.W. Norton Art Gallery and the “STRIKE” exhibition is available at rwnaf.org/events.

 

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