My time at Willamette was a time of great exploration, both personal and academic. I knew coming into college that I wanted to further pursue my passion for art history. Through the various classes I took, people I met and experiences I had, Willamette helped me to discover new ways of combining my interests.
My academic life: combining Art History and Social Justice
Ultimately, I am interested in pursuing avenues where art is used as a powerful form of expression as well as a tool for community building, empowerment and education. My senior thesis gave me a wonderful opportunity to explore the intersections of socially conscious art and formal analysis in greater depth. I have always loved photography as a medium and the wide array of possibilities it offers in terms of artistic expression and interesting formal qualities.
With the emergence of “documentary photography,” this medium became a powerful communicative tool. I chose to look at two bodies of work by Dorothea Lange from the 1930s and ‘40s. In analyzing these photographs, I was interested in learning more about how the images reflect normative social attitudes of the day - specifically in terms of race and gender. As Lange’s work is iconic and well-known (especially her Depression-era photographs), I was also interested in how the messages communicated through the images influence modern-day perceptions of the historical period they depict.
Writing the thesis
Was a great experience for me and I enjoyed being able to combine my interests and share my findings with my peers. It was also an opportunity to interact with the amazing Art History faculty on another level. Their support, encouragement, and collaboration was invaluable, both when writing the thesis and in class.
My Internship at the Denver Art Museum
I am currently looking into graduate programs focused on museum studies and museum education. This fall I will be serving as an intern with the Denver Art Museum in their Exhibition/Interpretation Department. I hope to someday teach and be able to share my passion and expose students to the boundless possibilities of art and art history as tools for social change, empowerment, and expression.
— Lauren Greenwell, Fall 2013