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A head start in the art world

Hannah CaddellHannah Caddell and Dr. Siu Challons-Lipton

Art history major Hannah Caddell, '13 has loved art since she was a little girl growing up in Charlotte. 

"My grandma took me to the Mint Museum when I was five," she recalls.  "It was a fashion exhibit and the way she tells the story, I just sat down on the floor and started drawing the costumes!"

Now, thanks to a couple of inspiring academic advisors, a great internship, and an unbeatable summer experience at the University of Oxford, Hannah has set her sights on a career in the art world. 

"I've always loved art," she says.  "I just didn't realize I could build a career in it until I came to Queens."

Hannah transferred as a sophomore from Elon University.  Her first professor was Dr. Charles Reed

"I didn't expect to stay here permanently but I fell in love with Queens in Dr. Reed's class," she says. "I realized the importance of having great professors who really care about me as an individual."  Dr. Reed, an Oxford graduate, became her first academic advisor.

Hannah's interest in art history bloomed over the next two years.  She landed a prestigious internship with the McColl Center for Visual Art and turned it into a bona-fide gallery staff position.  A talented scholar, she worked on an independent study project about the importance of building university art collections. 

Her current advisor, Dr. Siu Challons-Lipton, is the chair of the Art Department and also an Oxford alumna. Encouraged by both Dr. Reed and Dr. Challons-Lipton, Hannah applied last spring to an intensive summer program in art history at Oxford.    

The experience was rigorous and intimate, with just one other student studying alongside Hannah under one Oxford teacher.  They developed their own course of study:  the history of neo-classicism and the Grand Tour, the educational rite of passage through Europe traditionally undertaken by wealthy young European men.  

Dr. Challons-Lipton, a native of England, visited Hannah at Oxford while she was vacationing in England with her family. 

"We realized at Oxford what a small world it really is," says Dr. Challons-Lipton.  "My tutor at Oxford is a well-known 19th Century art historian named Jon Whiteley.  As it turned out Hannah's teacher in the summer program was Dr. Whiteley's current student!"  

When Dr. Whiteley, Dr. Challons-Lipton and Hannah sat side by side on a bench at Oxford's Ashmolean Museum, Dr. Challons-Lipton felt a "surreal sense of continuity.  There we were:  the teacher and his student and her student enjoying the museum together." 

In applying to the summer program, Hannah had wanted to see if Oxford was a fit.  The answer was a resounding yes.

This spring, Hannah hopes to start a new internship at the very same place where her love of art was born: the Mint Museum.   And if all goes as she hopes, she'll be accepted into graduate coursework at Oxford, working toward a doctorate in art history.

Her dream is to become a museum curator. "I love the idea of being able to convey the meaning of artwork to the public, to put together a theme that brings deeper meaning to a set of pieces," she says.

Editor's Note:  Read Hannah's blog about her adventures in Europe over the summer, including her experience at Oxford.

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