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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

What Can You Do With an Art Major?

“The irony in my becoming an academic is that I am the perpetual dropout. In 1968 there were much more interesting things to be doing,” art historian Abigail Solomon-Godeau humorously noted at the Harbor Art Gallery “Art/Talks” that took place on Thursday, March 11. Solomon-Godeau was among the three panelists, all UMB graduates, who discussed how they have shaped their career paths after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in the arts.

The two other speakers, Mary Behrens, a practicing artist, and Nancy Buschini Lloyd, an art conservator, also shared their experiences through a panel discussion entitled “Graduates in the Arts: UMass Boston Influences and Options.”

Solomon-Godeau received her bachelor’s degree in art history from UMB in 1974 and eventually obtained her doctorate in art history in 1992. After having dropped out of high school in 1968, she married and lived in Paris for a few years. She spoke of her first job as a typist, “What else could a high school dropout that was a woman do in 1968?” she asked. After having done work in publishing and photo editing, she chose academia as her third career.

Solomon-Godeau currently teaches at the University of California in the department of the history of art and architecture. She teaches at a public institution because, “Had it not been for public institutions, I wouldn’t have a degree.” In regard to UMB she continued, “There is a complete under-funding of this institution.”

Mary Behrens also took advantage of a public education by attending UMass Boston to obtain her first degree in 1988. Behrens initially worked as a waitress to support herself, but her main focus was to get a studio. Behrens achieved her “mission” and found her studio, which still stands today at 59 Wareham Street in Boston.

She described the other avenues in her career, such as teaching and writing. Behrens is assistant professor in painting and foundation at the Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts and was a lecturer of Drawing I at UMB from 1995-2002. Behrens’ accomplishments as an author can be seen in her article “Painting at the Rose Art Museum” in the February/March issue of Art New England.

Nancy Buschini Lloyd started her education at UMB without a plan to major in art. “I just took any course and after two years made the decision to major in art and biology,” she said.

What can you do with a degree in art and biology? Lloyd currently works in the conservation/interdisciplinary field, which is not a well-known area. Her task is to care for works of art by “putting objects in the best environment that will prolong life.” She specializes in “objects conservation” which primarily deals with sculptures. She needs her background in biology to understand relative humidity and choose the optimum climate for the art to remain pristine. She currently works at the Straus Center for Conservation at the Harvard University Art Museums as assistant conservator of objects and sculpture.

“Art/Talks” is an informal series of presentations sponsored by Arts on the Point, UMB art faculty, and the Harbor Art Gallery. These presentations invite members of the UMB community to participate in an expanding discourse on contemporary art.