Olivia Lawther ’12
Recipient of Willamette University Department of Art History Honors; co-recipient of The Roger P. Hull Art Museum Award; co-recipient of The Joy Lorraine Hayhurst Award
One of the greatest things I took away from the Department of Art History at Willamette University was the diversity of the field and how a variety of interests and ideas spur excellent research and conversation. My interest in multiple concentrations was what drew me to Art History. Initially, I was unsure of what I wanted to study upon entering Willamette, and tried my hand at many different classes. I was fortunate to find two fields, art history and chemistry.
I applied for the internship at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at the encouragement of fellow art history major Reva Main. The Hallie Ford is Willamette’s gem, a beautiful museum with an extensive and comprehensive collection that focuses on Northwest art. The most wonderful staff supported this expansion in my art repertoire. Many people may believe that only large museums can provide you with the finest museum experience, but I found that the tightknit group at the Hallie Ford afforded me the greatest hands-on internship I will likely ever have. I was taught how to prepare for exhibitions, write about the art and its handling, install works, and later speak about them. Being able to walk in after an installation goes up and look around at the visitors filled me with a great deal of pride in my ability to work with the museum to produce a wonderful exhibit.
Interning also helped me find art conservation, a field that brought together my love of art and science. With the help of the Hallie Ford staff, I was able to talk to many conservators and understand how to work with museums and transition from college into the art world. I was also able to obtain an internship under a private paintings conservator in Portland that helped foster my interest and taste for conservation.
My internship also shaped my thesis topic. My thesis was entitled: A Critical Analysis of Cesare Brandi’s Theory of Restoration with Reflections on Barbara Appelbaum’s Conservation Treatment Methodology. The process of constructing my thesis hinged on my interaction and discussion with the department’s professors, specifically Ricardo De Mambro Santos; he provided me with excellent conversation, challenging my thought process and writing style, which lead to the production of a well-rounded body of work.
I am currently working as an Editorial Production Associate in the Makeup Department at The New Yorker. While I have departed from art history, I am taking this time to experience the workforce and to apply for internships at museums, galleries, and conservation studios. My drive to pursue a future in art history was fostered by the excellent art history program at Willamette and the constant support of my professors and peers, something I will never take for granted and will forever appreciate as I move forward in life.
— Olivia Lawther, 2012
Olivia Lawther pictured at Nina Olsson’s conservation studio in Portland, OR, 2012