From New York to New Orleans, Spiegel-Wilks Seminar students share their summers

Spiegel-Wilks Seminar in Contemporary Art students, artists, and professors (2015)

Spiegel-Wilks Seminar in Contemporary Art students, artists, and teachers on The Porch Project by artist Heather Hart, 2015. Photo: Constance Mensh.

Isaac Kaplan, Samantha Sharon, and Ciara Stein were three of the co-curators of the ICA exhibition Do/Tell, part of Penn’s Spiegel-Wilks Seminar in Contemporary Art. Having just graduated from Penn, they each share their post-college summer experiences and how working with ICA has helped to shape their futures.
Penn graduate Ciara Stein at White Linen Night, New Orleans (2015)

Penn graduate Ciara Stein (C”15) at White Linen Night in the Art Warehouse District, New Orleans. Photo: Instagram.

Ciara Stein (C’15)

In July, I moved to New Orleans to join Penn’s Fox Leadership Program Fellowship and I have spent the last month and a half getting settled into—and falling in love with—work and the city. I am working as the coordinator for a coalition of organizations, businesses, and residents in the historic Treme/Lafitte, Tulane/Gravier, and Seventh Ward neighborhoods.

Working with ICA helped me decide to apply to, and take, this fellowship. As a student in the Spiegel-Wilks Seminar in Contemporary Art, I and my peers travelled to New Orleans to attend the city’s art triennial, Prospect 3, and research our ICA exhibition, Do/Tell. I adored New Orleans and knew that I wanted to come back. Co-curating Do/Tell made me think critically about community, belonging, and the importance of sharing narratives. My job allows me to delve deeper into these concepts and facilitate community development and urban renewal in part through listening to the stakeholders it will affect.

For the time being I will be exploring and learning in New Orleans. I am also planning to attend design school in the future, so am working on my portfolio and have definitely drawn inspiration for this from Do/Tell and other exhibitions that I saw at ICA during my time at Penn.
View from HQ, New York (2015)

View from HQ, New York. Photo: Facebook page.

Isaac Kaplan (C’15)

This summer, I have been working in New York as an editorial intern at, a website used by art lovers, museum-goers, patrons, collectors, students, and educators to discover, learn about, and collect art. This has involved a lot of outreach to galleries to put together our 30 Emerging Artists feature, fact-checking, and most excitingly: writing. I’ve researched and published on what it’s like to be Greek artist under austerity and right now I’m writing an article that explores how the arts have shaped New Orleans in the ten years since Katrina.

Working with ICA—as Student Advisory Board Chair and as part of the Spiegel-Wilks Seminar in Contemporary Art—was probably the closest thing to what it’s like to have a “real job” while in college, because ICA is a real institution. The most useful skill I picked up was communication: staying on top of emails, organizing meetings with the student board, coming up with and then attempting to execute long term projects—these are all crucial skills that I learned either directly or indirectly through working with ICA. I also discovered that work can be fun and incredibly rewarding when you’re part of a great institution like ICA.

It is hard to say, yet, what will come next for me. My internship runs through the end of September so I’m not in a crazy rush to get the future figured out. Ideally, I’d love to keep writing.
Penn graduate Samantha Sharon at the Jewish Museum (2015)

Samantha Sharon (C’15) at the Jewish Museum, New York.

Samantha Sharon (C’15)

This summer, I have been interning on a documentary film called the Hidden Children Documentary Project as well as working part-time at The Jewish Museum in New York as a Marketing Specialist. At the end of August, I will be starting a job at Resnicow + Associates, an art PR firm in Manhattan.

My experience at ICA definitely prepared me for these new experiences. First of all, ICA is an extremely well regarded institution in the art world, and I know that my experience there, and the fact that I had relationships with Jill Katz and Becky Huff Hunter—the Director of Marketing and the Communications Associate—caught the eyes of my employers. In interviews, I was able to talk about my experiences at ICA with so much enthusiasm and passion, and having worked closely with both the curatorial and marketing departments at the museum gave me unique real-world experiences that set me apart from other candidates. Having the opportunity to co-curate an exhibition, Do/Tell, and then market it to the public and the press, taught me so many invaluable skills that I can bring with me in my future endeavors. For example, learning how to write press releases and pitch stories to Penn’s and other local newspapers are skills that speak directly to what I will be doing at Resnicow + Associates.

I know that I will look back on my time at ICA as an unparalleled learning experience that will always act as a foundation for my future pursuits.

Learn about developing your skills with ICA through internships, our Student Advisory Board, and the Spiegel-Wilks Seminar in Contemporary Art.