Wichita State News
Photo: Shae West
Loryn Leonard guides a tour group of young students through an abstract art exhibit at the Ulrich Museum of Art.

Education intern connects people to art at Ulrich Museum

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Art history major Loryn Leonard interns with the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University, nurturing her passion for art and education.

She began her college career in Texas as an art education major and was required to take a three-dimensional studio art class.

“I took metalsmithing and became riveted with it ever since,” she said.

In metalsmithing, she worked with nonferrous metals such as copper, brass, silver and gold, and used traditional craftsman techniques to create contemporary art forms.

“Metalsmithing is an art form that is delicate and difficult,” she said, “so if there is anything that I have gained, it is patience.”

Leonard received her Bachelor of Fine Art in metalsmithing and jewelry from the University of North Texas in 2007.

Leonard is at WSU pursuing her second undergraduate degree in art history.

“I felt apprehensive about continuing my education in metalsmithing,” she said. “Although (it) is my passion, I decided to focus on the academic side of the art spectrum.”

She is trying to encompass the entire art history spectrum in her studies.

“Art history has always fascinated me,” Leonard said. “I believe that art history is intertwined with a society’s socio-cultural background.”

But her favorite aspect is learning about the different methodologies in art, how they’re applied to socio-cultural beliefs and how art is a reflection of those ideals.

“Researching artists that are new to me is like discovering an ancient relic,” she said. “It’s exciting to learn how the artist was influenced by his or her surroundings or how the art itself impacted their culture.”

Leonard is also participating in a medieval and renaissance certificate program, which is similar to working on a thesis. She must research and present a topic to a board to receive her certification.

And she is trying to start a contemporary arts society for WSU students to raise awareness of current art events and to promote professional practice.

Leonard began an internship with the Ulrich Museum in July working with Aimee Geist, the curator of education and Teresa Veazey.

Her responsibilities include researching artists, guiding tours, advocating for student membership, assisting in education marketing and preparing museum events.

“Interns like Loryn are invaluable,” Veazey said. “They’re always willing to help out with museum tours, artists’ lectures, opening parties, anything and everything that happens at the museum.”

“My favorite part of my job, and I joke with (my boss) about this, is taking the golf cart out on errands,” Leonard said.

But truthfully, Leonard said she enjoys leading tours and being the bridge from the art to the viewer.

Interning with the Ulrich Museum will prepare her well for a future career coordinating the education department of a museum.

“Being an education intern has provided me with invaluable experiences,” she said. “I get a behind the scenes glance at the internal clockwork of a museum.”

The education curator takes an exhibition and creates various activities and events that comply with the art, she said, essentially connecting people with art.

“Loryn wants to work in an art museum when she graduates from WSU, and nothing will look better on her resume than a year’s experience working at the Ulrich,” Veazey said.

After she receives her undergraduate degree, Leonard plans to attend graduate school in 2011, write books about her research and possibly teach art history in the process.

In her spare time, she reads and continues to work on metalsmithing in her make-shift basement studio to keep her skills fine-tuned.

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Created on Thursday, November 19, 2009; Last modified on Thursday, November 19, 2009