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ASU Art Museum internship prepares student for working in art world

April 15, 2015

Tiernan Warner has found her true calling in the art world.

After a short internship in the print room of the ASU Art Museum – a place in the museum where the collections of old and modern prints are stored – Warner decided to turn her hours of observing the prints into a hands-on experience with exhibitions and curatorial work.

Warner, who graduated from Arizona State University in December, spent her final two semesters working at an expanded internship under the supervision of curator and print collection manager Jean Makin.

In retrospect, Warner said a big part of her time at the ASU museum was preparing herself for work in the art world beyond making art.

“I’m not going to make a living making purely art,” Warner said. “I need to get curatorial experience; I’ve worked in museums – I feel like I could get a job doing something art-related and then work at home on my own art.”

Warner is now an intern at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and recently put on a show showcasing her own art at the Night Gallery at Tempe Marketplace.

Warner said the ASU Art Museum internship prepared her for the world after graduation, especially as she got the chance to help put together the exhibition “The Gift: Selections from the Armstrong-Prior Archive,” on display until June 20.

Warner researched the artists who had pieces in the collection in order to write biographies for the displays, catalogued all the pieces and did an extensive two- to three-hour interview with John Armstrong and Joan Prior for the exhibit program.

“We don’t need a file filler. We need to give them (interns) an experience that they see an end result and benefits us, and it benefits our viewing public, too,” Makin said of the internships ASU Art Museum offers. “They turn out to be a really, really great experience for everyone.”

Armstrong and Prior gifted all the pieces in the exhibition through their firm, Armstrong-Prior Inc. There were originally 120 pieces; Makin had to narrow it to 40-45 for the show.

“I think the beauty of it is nobody will ever be doing the same project as I’m doing,” Warner said. “I wanted to do it because I saw my friend doing it, and she was learning a lot and having a good time, but it’s really changed based on the needs of the museum and the needs of Jean (Makin).”

When Warner came to ASU, she wanted to be a doctor or a nurse, but by the end of her four and a half years at ASU, she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in printmaking from the School of Art, in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Warner said her love of art took over and that her mother’s career as an interior designer also influenced her.

As far as the education she received at ASU, Warner said it greatly helped steer her career path and understand what a degree in the art world entails.

“I’ve really loved ASU,” Warner said. “It’s a big school, but I think you can really find your pocket. [In] the art school, especially the printmaking program – which only has about 100-plus-or-minus people – you really can find your close-knit group.”

Written by Samantha Pell, ASU News