John Boudreau ’14, a history major, never expected to be an expert on art history. However, working as a communications intern at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute this summer has provided him a detailed knowledge of painters such as Winslow Homer. Boudreau has also been able to develop his writing skills and gain experience toward possible careers in curatorial work or journalism. His internship is supported by the Richard and Patsy Couper fund.
Since 1955, the Clark has provided the community of Williamstown, Mass., with an impressive collection of art. Along with other art museums in the area, it has helped to establish the Berkshires as a center of cultural activity. Boudreau explained that he was drawn to the Clark for similar reasons to why he chose Hamilton, stating, “What I like about the Clark is that it’s sort of the Hamilton of museums. It’s relatively small . . . but for its size it offers a really great service to the community.”
Boudreau found the Career Center and Hamilton faculty extremely helpful in arranging his internship. “Heather Wixson was so great in helping me identify what I wanted to get out of this summer,” he noted. Boudreau also turned to Christian Goodwillie at Hamilton’s Burke Library Special Collections, where he works during the semester. Goodwillie, who used to work with Boudreau’s supervisor at the Clark, helped him to secure a connection and subsequently the internship.
As a communications intern, Boudreau spends the bulk of his time writing press releases for the Clark. He covers scholarly lectures, special events, concerts, films and other happenings at the museum. He remarked, “It’s been really good for my writing. It refines and cuts all the fat out of my prose.” Boudreau has also been attending local community outreach events, such as baseball games or art programs, to promote the Clark.
Boudreau’s other large project is writing for the Clark’s blog. He feared that with the advent of sleeker platforms such as tumblr and twitter, blogging might be “going the way of the dodo” and so is making efforts to reinvigorate the museum’s blog. His entries primarily center around the Clark’s current exhibit on Winslow Homer, the famed 19th century painter and printmaker. Through the blog, Boudreau hopes to add an additional dimension to the museum’s exhibit. He explained, “What I’m trying to do is give a little background about the paintings and other works in the show and tell some stories that otherwise wouldn’t be told.”
As part of his efforts, Boudreau has been working on a series called “Your Favorite Homer,” in which he asks different museum employees to discuss their favorite pieces of art. He’s found that many people around the museum, not only the curators, are very knowledgeable about art. For example he spoke with Geoffrey Hedden, a shipping and receiving clerk at the Clark, who commented extensively on Homer’s use of color and line in his representations of water.
“We often say that art is for everyone,” Boudreau mused. “However, frequently the people who talk about art are the people who have degrees and are supposed to talk about art, and I think it’s cool to get a less scholarly perspective.” After spending so much time writing for the museum this summer, Boudreau is adding his own voice to the public discussion on works of art.
Boudreau is a graduate of Ballston Lake Senior High School in Burnt Hills, New York.