By Ariel Rolfe, Design Intern
The Office of Exhibits Central takes on interns throughout the year to assist in a variety of projects. Interns gain valuable professional experience while learning about what the Smithsonian does behind the scenes. Internships are ten weeks long, and (as of now, mid-July) the eager interns are already halfway through their experience! This summer OEC has five interns with a variety of backgrounds and many different skill sets:
Aliana Bailey, Safety Program Intern
Aliana is a passionate artist, in both personal and professional realms, working in painting and graphic design. Her paintings comment on African American culture and feminist studies, though she is also interested in the color, movement, and texture of non-representational paintings. (You can check out Aliana’s work here.) Aliana finds great inspiration in learning about America’s visionaries and activists at the National Portrait Gallery. She also lists the Hirshhorn as a favorite museum, describing it as equally informative to her personal artwork. Her pursuit of social innovation through visual arts led her to double-major in Social Work and Visual Arts, specializing in Graphic Design and Painting, at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
At OEC, she has been working to establish a stronger graphic identity for the safety program, “addressing human behavior in the form of effective design solutions,” she notes. Through her experience here and at school, she aims to use the power of art and design to heal, educate, influence, communicate, and enhance the well-being of individuals and communities.
Ariel Rolfe, Design Intern
Ariel has been enjoying the change in pace from her hometown of Juneau, Alaska. She graduated with a degree in Art and a minor in Construction Technology from the University of Alaska Southeast. (You can see some of her work here.) After school, Ariel took a two-year “break” working as a bookkeeper until finally accepting her fate in an arts-and-humanities-minded career path. She is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Museum Exhibition Planning & Design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Ariel is fascinated with the relationships between nature and humans, particularly how design can enhance that relationship in a sustainable way. One of her favorite museums is the Wagner Free Institute in Philadelphia, which embodies mankind’s strange obsession to manage and control nature while simultaneously deeming it fascinating and beautiful in its wildness.
Relatively new to graphic design, Ariel has been getting lots of valuable experience at OEC creating and finalizing graphic designs for the Hometown Teams and Beyond Bollywood exhibitions. She has also been working on concept design for an exhibition about the history of the Institution, called The Smithsonian: A Story of Discovery and Wonder.
Cullen Whitmore, Graphics Intern
Cullen studies Graphic Design at the University of Michigan School of Art & Design. Cullen is originally from this area and will be returning to Michigan in September for his sophomore year. While at OEC, Cullen has been assisting with printing and mounting large exhibition panels using the press machine as well as laminating panels. Cullen has been producing graphics for Beyond Bollywood, Hometown Teams, and the Postal Museum. His favorite museum is the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, which he finds interesting because of its layout and the assortment of animals. He especially loves walking into the museum to be welcomed by Henry, the elephant.
Outside of his internship, Cullen works a second job at a movie theater in addition to freelancing as a graphic designer and illustrator. He works for bands and small organizations, creating promotional materials such as business cards, posters, and logos. (You can see some of his work here.)
Christina Fontenelle, Model Shop Intern
Christina boasts a long list of titles under her email signature, which include Peer Academic Advisor Leader, Founding President for Active Minds, and President of the Association of Latin American Students. She doesn’t let anything hold her back, including being half-deaf. She knows not only English and American Sign Language but also Spanish. Christina is working on three Bachelor’s degrees at Illinois State University—Painting, Psychology, and Art History—and aims to become an art therapist. Last year she received a scholarship through her school allowing her to intern at the Smithsonian Institution for the summer.
In the OEC model shop, Christina has been working hands-on, fabricating components for Hometown Teams. Watch the short video to see how Christina has set up a jig so that she can accurately and smoothly drill holes in an interactive section of the exhibition.
Outside of OEC, Christina helps with other SI events and at museums on the Mall. Her favorite exhibition is of Nam June Paik’s work at the American Art Museum. She loves how the artist “broke down barriers” using television screens to fill up entire walls of the gallery.
Watch this video to see how Christina uses the jig to drill
holes for some of the exhibition interactive panels.
Matthew Callahan, Model and Fabrication Shop Intern
If Matthew weren’t interning at OEC, you’d probably have to search out the nearest circus to find him. He’s a juggler and rides a unicycle when not working at OEC. He also does freelance design work and is scheming about what to do after the summer. Matthew recently graduated from the Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Sculpture. At OEC he’s been working in the model and fabrication shop, assisting with the installation of Q?rius, a new interactive and experimental environment set to open this fall at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). At NMNH he has been fabricating brass mounts for the show.
A loyal Smithsonian fan, Matthew likes a lot of the Smithsonian museums, especially NMNH, Air & Space, and the Hirshhorn. Matthew enjoys the incredible collections and impressive exhibitions that all three museums host.