Appreciating the Ancient Art of Creativity
“I haven’t had the most typical intern track,” admits Furniture Design senior Adam Hyman in reference to his fall internship at the RISD Museum. He attributes his unusual experience to the fact that he applied to the History of Art + Visual Culture’s Museum Fellows Program without actually specifying a preference for working in a particular curatorial department.
Hyman’s “down to do anything” approach allowed him to form a joint internship with two different specialists – Curator of Ancient Art Gina Borromeo and Conservator Ingrid Neuman. He enjoys the flexibility this dual position provides because it allows him to combine both a “research component and a physical, active component” in his work.
The physical component of the internship requires Hyman to assist with conservation efforts by cleaning and polishing ancient vessels and crawling under 18th-century French tables to stabilize damaged gold leaf, whereas the research component allows him to focus on and learn the history of the unique objects he’s handling. Both approaches provide for an intimate experience with treasured objects normally viewed only in books or behind glass. This in-depth, experience-based learning also inspires the creation of his own artwork.
“My experience at the Museum makes my studio work seem much less abstract,” Hyman explains, noting that many of the pieces he creates on assignment and on his own reference historic designs and decorative arts objects. In describing what he calls “definitely more than just an internship,” he says that by working alongside his Museum mentors he has gained new appreciation for their patient and thorough approach to handling and fully understanding objects. They, in turn, note that he has naturally adopted a similar work ethic and exemplifies the “careful attention to detail” needed to research and conserve works of ancient art.
Objects that reveal the results of Hyman’s meticulous work this fall are now on view in the Greek, Roman and European galleries, and his reconstruction drawings will soon be made available to visitors to these galleries as well.