Bowdoin College offers two summertime internships in art museums: one with the College Museum of Art, which hires several interns every year. And there is another even older opportunity for students who want to dip their fingers into the Maine art world. For more than 20 years, Bowdoin has sponsored a summer intern at Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport, providing him or her with a stipend and free housing in the small coastal town.
This summer, Anna Schember, who graduated in May after majoring in art history, is working at the center from June to the end of August. Schember learned of the Bruce Brown Curatorial Internship her senior year, when she took a studio art class with A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Art Mark Wethli, who told her and other graduating seniors studying art history and the visual arts about the position.
Wethli and Bruce Brown, a longtime curator for CMCA, set up the summer internship in 1990 expressly for graduating Bowdoin seniors.
Originally funded by the Picker Foundation from 1990 to 2007, the internship has been taken over by the college on an ad hoc basis since then. “There is presently no ongoing fellowship supporting the position, but the Bowdoin Development Office and more recently the Dean of Academic Affairs Office have been very generous in providing this funding on a year to year basis,” Wethli explained.
CMCA is a 60-year-old nonprofit that is halfway between a gallery and a museum, Schember explained. It has no permanent collection, but many times a year puts on many exhibitions of artists connected to Maine. “I met so many of the artists whose work has been on display over the summer,” Schember marveled. “I got to know them beyond casual conversations.”
The center allows exhibiting artists to sell their work on display, and asks for a smaller-than-average commission to cover operating costs. It asks for a suggested $5 donation from visitors. “It’s really meant to be for the community,” Schember said, adding that “its mission is furthering contemporary art in Maine.”
Because CMCA has a small staff, Schember said she’s been closely involved in a number of projects this summer, including helping the center organize its annual auction. This year it sold 100 pieces of art at its July sale, raising close to $100,000, according to Schember.
Schember’s also helped install the pre-auction exhibition that allows potential buyers and others a chance to check out the art for sale. After that project wrapped up, she helped CMCA set up its three current shows, which include works by Ken Greenleaf, Samantha Appleton, Anne Neely and Tom Chapin, as well as helped create the exhibition catalog, using online book-making software.
Schember said that after the internship, she’s hoping to stay in the art world, and is seeking curatorial or art education jobs at museums on the East and West Coasts.
“I love art. I love studying it, making it, looking at it, talking about it,” she said. “Ever since I was young, I’ve been drawn to it. I like being a part of allowing others to see art, too. I like being involved myself, but I like getting others involved, and to see what art can do for people.”