As a UT student studying business and science, it made absolutely no sense for me to apply for an internship at the Blanton Museum of Art. Even after accepting the internship, I was still worried I would not be able to fit in the museum environment. I am as far from artistic as you can get. I think paintbrushes are best used for cleaning dust. Oil painting is when I pour vegetable oil in a frying pan. The most artistic I get is tying my shoelaces every morning.
Yet two months after working there, it was nothing like I thought it would be. There were no upper class intellectuals discussing how Picasso’s brushstrokes at 35 degrees give a painting a guileless nature, or Edward Hopper’s sketch of a cat showed that he preferred Petco over Petsmart. There were just kind, sweet, down-to-earth staff members and volunteers who were focused on one thing: how to get everyone to enjoy the art.
An art museum is a unique place to volunteer. The environment is serene and soothing. Stacked Waters, the immersive art installation within the museum’s atrium, and the architecture of the building promote tranquility. It’s a place built to calm you and isolate you from the busy outside world. People take their time and stroll around at their own leisure, quietly inhaling the beauty. There is hardly any sense of urgency. Naturally, the environment provokes creativity and thought. The mix of culture and color leaves you in a daze, with your head spinning as you move from one exhibit to the next. In one room you can be surrounded by Greek plasters and feel like throwing on a toga, and within a few steps you are in an ancient time period where you suspiciously check your shoes for sand. If you enjoy working with children, you can help at the stations that are set up for them to make their own art. Their creativity is contagious; just walking by, you feel like making something meaningful of your own. Even I managed to pick up some skills, using my free time to learn origami.
There are numerous places you can give your time to help the community: food banks, homeless shelters, hospitals. But at the Blanton Museum of Art you will find a place of peace and quiet that will help you learn about cultures and their art as well as yourself. If you get a chance to volunteer there, I recommend you take it because the museum and the art can make you a more colorful person.
Huzefa Sakerwalla is a student at UT studying business management and pre-med classes. He found the Blanton internship opportunity on the AccessUT web site for students and alumni and is working with Visitor Services helping to manage summer volunteers.