Alumni Voices: Elissa Watters '15

Deputy Director Juliette Bianco recently caught up with Elissa Watters '15, the 2014-15 Levinson Curatorial Intern at the Hood Museum of Art, to learn about Elissa's work since graduating from Dartmouth. As part of her internship at the Hood, Elissa curated the museum's 91st Space for Dialogue exhibition, titled (Re)imagining Home, which included works from the museum's collection by Bill Traylor, Yinka Shonibare, and Pablo Delano. 

Juliette: Can you tell me something about your current role at the Yale University Art Gallery, and your academic and museum journey to this point?

Elissa: As the Florence B. Selden Fellow in the Prints and Drawings Department at the Yale University Art Gallery, I facilitate class and scholar visits to the museum's Study Room to see various pieces from our collection of nearly 40,000 prints and drawings. This job follows directly from my focus on works on paper at Dartmouth, where I was an English literature major, as well as in my master's studies in art history at Williams College and the Clark Art Institute, and in previous curatorial positions.

Juliette: Why do you think it's important to have an art museum at Dartmouth?

Elissa: I think that college art museums like the Hood provide unique opportunities for cross-disciplinary learning. From my experience, many students gain broader understandings of course curricula by looking at relevant works of art—sometimes to their own surprise. I am excited to see how the Hood will activate its extraordinary collection in the expanded and renovated galleries and study rooms.

Juliette: How do you reflect back on your internship at the Hood, and how you think this work influenced your decisions for graduate school and what you are doing now?

Elissa: My internship at the Hood opened my eyes to the missions, audiences, collections, organizational structure, and exhibition and programming opportunities specific to college museums. Working with the curator of African art on two exhibitions—including one on the textiles of the Ekpe secret society—I recognized the power of art in shaping daily life. The internship confirmed my commitment to the museum field and my interest in multimedia and globally minded research, exhibitions, and programming.

Juliette: Anything else you'd like to share?

Elissa: I would love to see Dartmouth students work at the Hood as docents or gallery guides or some equivalent. If the logistical complications posed could be overcome, this would be a great way to get students across campus involved in the museum and engaged with the collection. Increased collaboration with student groups and Greek houses is key to building relationships with all Dartmouth students on campus that will continue after they graduate.


Written September 01, 2018