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Rachel Watson

Where do you work, and what do you do in your current occupation?

I am currently in my last semester of my MFA and I work as a graduate assistant at the Special Collection Library (specifically the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies) at University of Georgia. I process collections and digitize.

What do you enjoy about your current to occupation? Do you consider yourself successful? In what way?

I enjoy processing and archiving one of a kind objects and collections. The variety of collections that come through the library keep the job exciting and entertaining. Recently I have been digitizing objects, such as the Confederate Constitution, registrars, and Baldy comics, which I find interesting because of my photography background. Using a camera in my day-to-day work helps me bridge the gap between the political archives and art. This job also teaches me a bit about preservation, which is a subject I am very much interested in. I am currently applying to internships and jobs in both preservation and archival work.

 black and white headshot of Rachel

What led you to pursue your current line of work?

I took a class during my second semester of graduate school at the Special Collections Library where we were prompted to create artwork based on our research there. It clicked that that’s how I should be working and have continued in that manner ever since. I decided to add a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies to my program and asked to intern at the Special Collections Library, as I was there all the time for my personal research and had made many connections there already. After being an intern all summer in 2019 I was asked to stay on as a graduate assistant for fall 2019 and then asked again for spring 2020.

Do the skills and knowledge that you gained as a student in the Department of Visual Arts (DoVA) contribute to your current occupation? If so, in what way?

The addition of DoVA and my current occupation will contribute to the positions I am applying for presently. I graduate in May and have applied to a number of photography preservation and art archival positions as well as residencies. My experience at DoVA helped broaden my understanding of a variety of mediums, which I use daily.

Now that you have a vantage point to reflect on your art education, what would you do differently?

I would try to develop concepts more than focusing on the medium as much. My current program is very content based so pushing myself more during my first degree would have helped. However, I am happy that I was allowed freedom at UNG to focus on multiple mediums as I feel it has set me up for jobs that I am currently interested in.

Artwork by Rachel

Do you have any words of wisdom for current DoVA students?

As easy as it will be to stop making art after you graduate, don't. Even if you decide not to go into an art field, just keep making art and keep your passion alive. I know that I stopped making art as regularly after I graduated for the first couple of years and it was really hard on me. I felt like something was missing and once I started making art again everyday it all came back.

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