July 8, 2021
Graduating from Shawnee State University in 2017 with a Fine Arts degree in Photography and minor Art History, alumna Courtney Uldrich always knew she wanted to eventually work in a museum.
“I knew that I liked art and I knew that I liked art history when I came to Shawnee State,” she said. “When I studied abroad the summer before my senior year in Italy, I took a few courses that were more art history related and that for me solidified that I was really in love with the idea of art history. Those two areas work so well with each other.”
Uldrich spent an additional year at SSU after graduating with her bachelor’s degree, serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA employee running the Bear Necessities Pantry on-campus. The next year, she applied and was accepted to graduate school to pursue a Master of Art History degree as well as a certificate in Museum Studies & Conservation. She also received a Graduate Assistant position in the university’s on-campus museum where she has found a way to explore her love of art history as a Collections Manager.
“I help with the installations of exhibitions, and then the deinstallation of them,” she said. “On the collection’s side I work with a little over 4,000 objects and I do daily management of them which has to do with making sure everything is in working order, making sure nothing is damaged, and then we also do loans of our objects.”
Comparing how it feels to be in her role compared to learning about art history in the classroom at SSU, Uldrich finds some of it surreal.
“It’s a totally different experience getting to interact with artists in this way,” she said, citing one of her first shows she helped curate with the museum included key women artists including Yoko Ono, Catherine Opie, and Mary Kelly. “I’m currently writing my thesis on the work of Judy Chicago and in my undergraduate degree I was listening to Dr. Graziani teach about her. Now here I am four years later getting to interact with her. It’s pretty crazy.”
When attending SSU, Uldrich built her resume and experience volunteering and being involved with many groups on campus. She worked as a Resident Assistant and worked in the Clark Memorial Library, as well as helped with the annual Weekend of Welcome activities for new students. Throughout these roles and taking her courses within the art department, Uldrich found it important to gain as much experience as she could on campus for her future career.
“In this job I do so much every day and so much of it is in different realms of museum work that if you’re able to experience as much of it as you can, the better off you’ll be,” she said, encouraging those thinking about pursuing a career in Art History to put themselves out there. “Every day you’ll go to work and be so excited to be at work. To prepare, I say go to museums, volunteer at museums, and take every opportunity that is given to you.”
This spotlight is part of an ongoing series by the SSU Alumni Association in celebration of the university’s 35 Years milestone. To learn more about alumni making a difference in their careers, visit shawneestatealumni.com for more features.