Whether you want to move from your hometown or explore opportunities in your field of interest, an internship can foster experiences beyond the classroom.
Grace Garcia, a junior majoring in media and journalism and minoring in art history, moved to New York City to be a part of the 2021 spring cohort of Adrienne Arsht interns at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This will be the first time the Met will be able to fund all interns, due to Arsht’s gift of $5 million to the program.
Since the beginning of the 10 week-long program, Garcia has been utilizing social media to enhance user accessibility to the art collections and exhibits at the Met.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the role that art has in connecting communities,” Garcia said. “For me, the Met represented this opportunity to connect with individuals on a large scale, but also to highlight the incredible power that these cultural institutions have and find a way to break down these barriers or ideas of exclusivity.”
As an external affairs intern, Garcia creates weekly Instagram stories for the Met's 3.8 million followers to introduce different works of art and the history behind them. She said she hopes to bring the Met to TikTok, which would allow her to use her voice and creativity in a way that meets these goals.
“Is it just to see a painting or is it to see the backstory, the history and the context, and what I'm passionate about is displaying the context of these works in a way that allows individuals to connect to them and to connect to others,” Garcia said. “That ultimately is the most powerful part of social media, our ability to go beyond our own physical location to connect to others.”
Being able to balance her internship and online classes hasn’t been easy, but Garcia finds ways to connect her education with the social projects that she produces with the Met.
“I've been able to align classes that I'm taking at UNC that help me with some of the investigative or research work that I do at the Met,” Garcia said. “Finding ways to balance your schedule is necessary but also finding ways to connect the experiences that you're having at college to the work that you are doing, I think is really powerful, because it allows you to, in many ways, just find this interconnected circle.”
Amanda Maples, curator of African art at the North Carolina Museum of Art, serves as a mentor for Garcia. She said that to have a chance to work for the Met is honorable.
“I'm proud of her for sticking with it despite pushback on the ways of interrogating art and boundaries, that she's doing, is not always welcome in museums,” Maples said. “I think that she has pushed past that anyway and makes us have conversations that are difficult. Being at the Met will provide her a really amazing platform for widening that conversation and making it happen in a more meaningful way.”
Crystal Silva, a longtime friend of Garcia, grew up in the same hometown and had similar interests in social activism as Garcia during high school. She admires Garcia’s talents and, in turn, finds that this motivates her to strive for more.
“Getting here took a lot of hard work, and there has been so many moments where (Grace) has doubted herself, so to see it all pay-off is a great thing,” Silva said. “When you see Grace be successful, it’s not a moment where you’re jealous of her. It’s just sheer awe and pride knowing that she has worked herself to the bone and really deserves it.”
Garcia said through her internship her social work continues on and that she wants to highlight the inclusive nature of art and how it directly influences people’s daily lives.
“I've always wanted to increase the accessibility of art for the purpose of education because I believe that that is a really foundational part of social movements and social change,” Garcia said. “The ability to showcase creativity and voices and amplify those voices in a way that allows individuals to see themselves in these spaces and to be empowered by the beauty that surrounds them.”
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