Bachelor's Student is a Gallery Teacher at J. Paul Getty Museum
The third person in her family to attend FIDM, Lauren James graduates this July with her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Industry Studies with a focus in Interior Design. She is a Gallery Teacher at J. Paul Getty Museum where she teaches K-12 students, focusing on the analysis, interpretation, and contextualization of artworks. This fall she plans to move to London to pursue her Master's Degree in Fine and Decorative Art and Design at Sotheby's Institute of Art. We caught up with Lauren to find out more about her academic and creative journey.
Tell us about your position at the Getty: My curiosity for art and art history as well as my desire to begin a career in Museum and Gallery Education, has inspired me to begin working at the J. Paul Getty Museum as a Gallery Teacher. Through this program, my K-12 students and I are exposed to an immersive object-based approach to the study and discussion of a wide range of objects/artworks throughout the museum. We focus on the analysis, interpretation, and contextualization of artworks on our tours with students. The exploration of art and all its meanings are discovered through activities and interactive dialogue designed to engage the students' minds and bodies to make learning about art and its history more exciting and something they will always remember. I love this job, it's my true passion in life, and when I give tours, I step back into the role of the student, where I learn more from the students through their interactions with art than I ever thought possible.
Tell us a little about yourself: I am a 24-year-old FIDM student receiving my Bachelor's degree this July. I’ve spent two years on the board of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and three quarters as Chapter President. I am currently a Gallery Teacher at the J. Paul Getty Museum, and I have a passion for art history, interior design, volunteering, and all things learning! This fall I plan on moving to London, England, and earn my Master's Degree in Fine and Decorative Art and Design at Sotheby's Institute of Art.
Tell us more about your post-FIDM plans: Growing up I always had an interest in art, where it came from, how it was made, the story behind its composition; it all sparked my curiosity into the ever-expanding world of art. But I knew I wanted to work in museums the first time I ever went to the Getty where I saw the portrait of Jeanne Kéfer, painted by Fernand Khnopff when I was just 7 years old. It was the first time I had ever seen a piece of art in person that I had seen in a textbook at school; that moment changed my perception of art and its gravitas permanently and made me fall in love with art even more. After that experience, my desire to advance my understanding of the consumption of artworks, examine patterns of benefaction and collecting, and the historical and contemporary art markets propelled me toward higher education and a future career in a museum. London is my favorite place in the world, it's my happy place, and somewhere I felt instantly at home; so when I knew that I wanted to pursue my Master’s didn't even think twice about looking in London, where I found out that Sotheby's, the famous auction house company, also lends its name to a prestigious art institute and they were taking applicants for their Master's program. This program will offer an in-depth and integrated study of fine and decorative art and design starting from the late Renaissance to the late twentieth century and will allow me to develop a finer understanding of the art and styles in those time periods. My year-long program will give me the exposure necessary to find my place in the art world and meet the people who can help me along the way! I will get to spend most of my days wandering the halls of some of the world's most famous museums with my classmates and speak to experts about how the art world truly works. I have never been so excited for school to start and to start the rest of my life by pursuing my dreams.
Why did you choose FIDM? I chose FIDM because of the fabulous Interior Design program. My sister was attending the school in the Visual Communications major and my mother is an alumna of FIDM and the Interior Design program. My mom raised me with a passion for furniture and interior architecture so when I was looking for colleges I wanted to focus on those subjects as well as attend a school that had creative people who think like me. I wanted a school that would allow its students to fuel their passions through design and creativity and that's exactly what FIDM is, so it was a no-brainer for me to attend.
My sister actually attended FIDM before I did and was one of the influencing factors in me attending later on. I was working on a separate A.A. at a different school when my sister began attending FIDM; she would come home excited about her projects, I knew that was something I would love! She and my mom had great experiences with FIDM, my mother credits FIDM for helping her find her career as a Prop Master on a talk show, so seeing my mom and sister be so successful and happy is what influenced me to look into and eventually attend FIDM.
How do you feel FIDM has prepared you for the future: FIDM was the stepping stone I needed to realize where I wanted to end up after all of my schooling was done. Without FIDM I would not have realized what career paths were open to me, or have the qualifications to make those doors open.
What are you doing to stay inspired during these challenging times? It's hard to stay inspired on a daily basis during these stressful times, but I am keeping in touch with my fellow Gallery Teachers via Zoom and talking about all things art both old and new, and how excited we all are to go back to the museum. I am also just reminding myself how grateful I am that I have a school that will work with me online, that I have an exciting future to look forward too, and that when this is all over I will finally be able to walk across that graduation stage with my friends and family by my side! Every day is a challenge to stay inspired and positive when it feels like the world is ending, but I am just taking things one day at a time and reminding myself that this will end and we will all be able to live our lives again!
How are you showing up for your community, your career, and yourself right now? I am working on completing my B.A. in Creative Industry Studies currently, so disciplining myself into a routine with school work from home is helping both my education and future career as well as keeping me sane while not being able to leave my house! I am continually working towards my career and just being a part of the art world conversation with my contemporaries at the Getty is setting me up to handle anything life may throw at me in the future of my career, and making me realize how much I love what I do. I am also trying to stay home as much as possible for my community and purchase groceries for the elder members of my family alongside my mom. I have a 93-year-old grandfather who cannot leave the house, so stopping by and checking in, as well as bringing him groceries has been a wonderful new routine we have and something I look forward to each week!
What are some of your favorite memories of your time at FIDM: Being a part of Phi Theta Kappa was a wonderful part of my FIDM journey and made for some of my favorite memories! I was able to meet some of the most amazing people and experience the school in ways I would not have, had I not been in PTK. But some of my favorite memories are from sitting behind the club table at orientation each quarter. I absolutely loved getting to meet so many new students, from all over the world, and in all different majors. I was able to learn so much about our school, how, and also be with my fellow PTK friends, which would make for a fun day. But my best memory would have to be the day I completed my AA program. I had worked so hard on those final projects and had put so much effort into just pushing through to the finish line, but being able to show a killer product to my teacher, celebrating with some of my friends after and realizing that I had finished, made for such a fantastic day and I cried for like an hour because I was so happy but sad that I wouldn't be in the program anymore!
What is your biggest goal right now? My biggest goal right now would be, to finish my bachelor's program with FIDM and to get to London this fall! But with everything going on, my biggest goal is to just stay busy, stay positive and stay hopeful that this will be over soon and we can all get back to normal life
What are you most looking forward to once this pandemic is over: GRADUATION!!! I am so excited about graduation and finally being able to walk across that stage with my diploma! Seeing my friends and my family is at the top of my excitement list as well when all of this is over, I cannot wait to go out for dinner with everyone and just celebrate being together! I am also really looking forward to moving to London and starting my new program across the pond!
Anything else you’d like to share? Congratulations to the graduating class of 2020, I can't wait to see you all at graduation!