Sometimes, the perfect opportunity requires a bit of perseverance to obtain. This was certainly the case for Ellie Silk ’22, whose internship at New York’s Hirschl & Adler Galleries, scheduled to take place last summer, was cancelled due to the pandemic. But after remaining in touch with her contacts at the gallery, Silk was offered the position for this summer instead — in recognition of both her qualifications and persistence.
Silk has her hands full with a number of projects around the gallery. These include setting up various shows, organizing sales to clients, and keeping tabs on inventory. Besides these day-to-day tasks, Silk is also working to archive the complete works of American Impressionist painter Childe Hassam. This endeavor will take the form of a “catalogue raisonné,” she said, “which is essentially a big book, a couple volume’s worth, that showcases every piece of art he’s ever made in his entire life. It’s paintings, it’s etchings, it’s drawings … anything and everything that he’s created.”
Hometown: New Rochelle, N.Y.
High School: New Rochelle High School
The Hassam project is one that they have been working on for years at Hirschl & Adler, Silk noted, and it also demands extensive research in the gallery’s database and “massive” library to extract “bits and pieces of information” about Hassam for the eventual book. After finishing any smaller tasks that might crop up on a given workday, Silk said that she always falls back onto this one, main project.
Silk discovered this position through a visiting Hamilton professor, Michael Shapiro ’71. She, along with the rest of the students in Shapiro’s art course, visited the gallery, where she was introduced to a Hirschl & Adler employee to whom she reached out afterward, asking about summer positions. Silk was then put in contact with the hiring manager, who entered her into the application and interview process.
An art major at Hamilton, Silk highlighted the importance of the courses she has taken — both art and art history alike. “Just learning about art … I’ve done that in the art history classes,” she said. “But then in those art classes I’ve taken, I’ve been able to apply my knowledge of actually creating art, and relate them from an academic and creative standpoint.”
On the art concentrator senior thesis, Silk said that “we’re learning to create artworks and showcase them at the end of the year, so that’s kind of taking everything I’ve learned in those art classes and art history classes and combining them together.” Her economics minor, she added, has also been useful at the internship, due to the business background it has provided her. “You need to have that background as well, to figure out what’s the best approach to take when trying to make connections and run a business,” she explained.
Post-graduation, Silk hopes to end up at a similar position. “It would be really nice to get an assistant job and then get a master’s in either art history or art management, and see what happens from there,” she said.