Meet Emily Shoyer, Chair of Barnard's Committee on Arts and Culture!

School & class: Barnard College, Class of 2017. 

Major: Art History 

Hometown: Chevy Chase, MD 

1. Tell me a little about yourself. What are your hobbies and interests?

Most of my time is devoted to art, so my interests are specifically related to that, I am fascinated and moved by art in response to genocide and historical traumas. I am also a serial intern, I have interned every semester of college. On the other side of things I also love reading, binge watching historically relevant TV shows (think the Crown and Good Girls Revolt). I love to cook ( I live in Columbia’s Jewish Food Co-Op) and I like to pretend I am a beer connoisseur (love a good IPA). I also love traveling!

2. As the Chair of Barnard's Committee on Arts and Culture, what are your plans for the semester? 

So right now I’m really excited about our exhibition called “Waste of Time” which we are partnering with the Barnard Sustainability Consulting Board for, it will take place on January 19th in the McCagg Gallery (on the 4th Floor of the Diana Center) this semester. The exhibit will explore waste production and how it impacts the larger community. Additionally, I am really excited to start work on the second mural panel in Hewitt. We also hope to start doing more culturally related events and keep up our artist spotlights in Liz’s Place. 

3. Why did you decide to join COA? 

I actually joined COA during my first year NSOP. I had a really positive interaction with the people affiliated with the committee during the student activities fair and really wanted to start getting involved in the exhibition of student art on campus. I haven’t left since! 

4. So far, what has been your favorite experience as part of the committee? 

I’ve had so many wonderful experiences on the committee. Definitely curating the two larger exhibitions my sophomore fall and spring. Those were really generative learning experiences. I curated “Safer Space” in the fall which exhibited student art responding to the issue of sexual assault and violence on campus and then in the spring curated “Art for Social Change” which explored artists who try to express what they find unethical or unjust through art. Additionally being able to work on the Diana 3rd floor mural (by the study space and student life office) was really awesome. I got to meet some incredible artists and really discuss and form the sketch for the mural as a collective.  

5. If you could make one lasting impact as COA's Chair, what would it be? 

I think I’d really like to demonstrate arts ability to form new subjectivities on this campus as well as deal with socially relevant topics. 

6. In addition to your position in the committee, you are also Barnard's Representative for Arts and Culture. Why did you run for this position? 

So actually when you run to be the Representative for Arts and Culture part of that job is being the Chair for the Committee on Arts and Culture. But after my first year I really enjoyed leading the Diana Mural project and wanted to take more of a leadership role on the committee. I decided to run for the position and excitedly won! I then went abroad my junior year and when I returned, I became a COAC member again. 

7. What does the position "Representative for Arts and Culture" entail? 

The Representative for Arts and Culture gets to sit on the Representative Council for all of SGA where administrative guests come and we discuss larger campus issues. I also serve as a voice for student artists and cultural groups on this campus. 

8. Aside from your work on campus, you are also a Curatorial Intern at the Whitney Museum of American Art. What drew you to the Whitney Museum in particular? 

The Whitney is really one of my favorite museums in the world. I think that particularly in the new building the open floor plan and interaction with the city through the architectural space sponsors a really positive institutional experience. Additionally I think they really care about representing many different kinds of artists who represent a multiplicity of views on American identity. I also love interning in the permanent collection because their collection of over 22,000 works engages really fascinatingly with different tenants of the American experience- recognizing that this experience is so subjective and dependent on many identity related factors. 

9. When and why did you become interested in art? 

My grandparents collected glass sculpture and my grandma was an art history major so that background definitely contributed. However, growing up in DC my father always made it a priority for us to do father daughter trips to the museums at the Smithsonian and I think when I was a junior in High School, I had always loved History, I discovered art history and this kind of different perspective on learning about history that really appealed to me. A more personal, affective type of raising consciousness. 

10. What is your favorite work of art? 

This is a tough one but right now I’ve been thinking a lot about the art I am working on for my thesis. I think the paintings I am writing about, those by Maryan S. Maryan and Obiora Udechukwu have a lot to offer modernist discourse on semi-abstract painting. I definitely urge everyone to look them up! 

11. Who are your favorite artists? 

Mark Rothko, Kerry James Marshall, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Mary Kelly, Maryan S. Maryan, Yoko Ono, Arshile Gorky, Hachivi Edgar Heap of Birds, Alison Saar, Josh Kline, Rebecca Belmore and Kay Walking Stick. 

12. Would you consider yourself an artist? 

No I don’t consider myself an artist, although there are definitely some interesting conversations being had about curators as artists, as a hopeful curator I definitely think that there is something to that argument.  

13. What is your favorite museum? 

Hmm that is a difficult question.. I definitely consider The Whitney Museum my favorite in NYC however I also really love the Bronx Museum of the Arts and The Studio Museum in Harlem. Furthermore I worked at the Jewish Museum and definitely believe in a lot of what they try to accomplish. I also really love The Museum of Art History and Judaism in Paris as well as the Palais de Tokyo there. One of the most incredible exhibition experiences I had was in Tokyo at the Mori Art Museum so I definitely consider that a favorite. Additionally I was able to go to the War Photo Limited Museum in Croatia which is a space devoted to exhibiting photography as it relates to genocide and historical traumas, I found that to be a really impactful experience. In DC one of my favorites is the Phillips Collection as well as the National Museum of the American Indian. 

14. Congrats on making it to senior year! Do you have any plans for after college? 

I am currently submitting applications to Masters Programs in Art History up and around the east coast as well as in Chicago. I am also applying to schools in Montreal and London so I’m hoping to get into a program I am excited about! That being said I am also really open to waiting till later this year (when jobs actually open at museums that are immediate hire) and then applying to positions in Education, Development, Visitors Services and maybe even Curatorial though those are difficult to get without an MA, and then applying for a PHD after one or two years of working. 

15. What is one thing you hope to do before you graduate? 

I definitely want to take more advantage of all the galleries in Manhattan and go to more shows and openings downtown! 

16. What has been your favorite memory at Barnard so far? 

I’m honestly really loving the Barnard senior Art History experience this year. It really is such an intelligent and supportive group of women with combined interests. Through that process I get a thesis partner (shoutout to Abby Sandler!) and that has been such a fun time getting to collaborate and help each other with our theses as well as become friends. I think the thesis process for Art History really fosters a community. 

17. Looking back on your time at Barnard, what advice would you give to your freshman self? 

I definitely would urge my first year self to take more classes in other departments (separate from my Art History and English courses) and really work on networking with Professors from day one!