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Grinnellians’ summer arts internships

Middeldorp with a Mettlach Stein. CONTRIBUTED

By Keli Vitaioli

Many Grinnellians developed their creative skill sets this summer at arts internships across the country.

Anne Rogers ’19 spent the summer in Minneapolis with Cave Paper, a hand papermaking company. She shared this internship with Bojana Crnomarkovic ’20.

Roger’s work at Cave Paper ranged from basic administrative tasks, such as helping out at Hand Papermaking Magazine, to assisting hands-on with the papermaking process. Rogers alternated between sheet forming; separating sheets in a vat; dying sheets with materials like indigo, walnut or persimmon; gelsize (a coating to prevent pen bleeding); flattening paper; preparing Christmas cards and pulp painting. Cave Paper works with art distributors to provide paper to artists and art stores, but is also available for personal single sheet orders.

Rogers’ walnut dyed paper drying.

“Sometimes they’d get big special orders. We were working on this artist book for an artist in Minneapolis, Gaylord Schanilec. He needed a ton of granite paper, which is one kind we made, so we were working on that,” Rogers said. “Once they made this enormous piece of paper for this guy to make this origami elephant that was taller than he was.”

While Rogers’ interest in papermaking is long-term, there are other aspects of the process she could see herself working with.

“I’m also really interested in making the tools for papermaking, like molds and some of the other more specific things like beaters for the fibers,” Rogers said. “[This] is work that I feel is really important.“

Although Cave Paper was Rogers’ first internship experience, she felt that the company’s emphasis on community was unique to arts internships, and specifically the craft of hand papermaking.

“It’s very much dismantling structures that usually surround a workplace,” Rogers said. “For the most part people really care about what they’re doing and are doing it the best way they can, but they were very accepting of the fact that some people do things in different ways.”

Across the country, Sasha Middeldorp ’18 worked at the American Museum of Ceramics in Pomona, California as the art collection intern. She worked under the collections manager, whose task is tending to the permanent collection of the museum in terms of condition reporting, researching artists and historical significance of pieces and managing their storage.

“The museum has 7,000 works in permanent collection and what they’re trying to do now is inventory every single one of them and put them in a database,” Middeldorp said. “I was working specifically with the 3,000 items from Mettlach, [Germany], a lot of beer steins, also some vases, plaques, beakers. I was researching all the items we have, working in the physical storage to photograph, date them, condition report them and update how they were being stored.”

This internship offered Middeldorp the unique opportunity to be hands-on in the museum field. She was drawn to the substantive collections experience she gained without working at a desk.

“The dream would be to work at archaeological museum, work in their collection, so I wanted to see if this was for me. The internship was so thorough in teaching me what a collections manager does,” Middeldorp said. “Here you get to work with the materials, learn the database system, go on art pickups, just get a really good introduction to the work. After this summer I realized, yeah, this is what I want to do.”

Middeldorp with a Mettlach Stein.

Also in California, Victoria Robinson ’18 worked with 3311 Productions, a production company working with left-of-center, independent films. Robinson thought this internship would be a good opportunity to get on the other side of film making, as Grinnell’s curriculum focuses on analysis and theory rather than production itself.

“Besides basic administrative stuff, I was reading incoming scripts. These were scripts that had been picked up by an agent and solicited by our company, so they were given to us not just randomly,” Robinson said. “I had to go through and do a scene by scene summary, a few paragraphs about why I liked it, why I didn’t like it, and my ending recommendation, if I liked it, if they should consider it, or if I didn’t think it was worth their time.”

Similar to Rogers’ experience, the office culture at 3311 Productions was different than that of a typical office space.

“I wasn’t expected to wear business anything. It was a smaller company, but people were really chummy with one another. There wasn’t a whole lot of business culture which I feel like might be more prominent in different areas,” Robinson said.

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    SCSPORTOAug 25, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    I love this. Amazing descriptions of incredible work!