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Headed to the Getty

Art History grad student Rheagan Martin lands coveted internship at the Getty Center in Los Angeles

Rheagan Martin, left, M.A. in Art History ’14, with fellow second-year M.A. in Art History student Samantha Robinson.

Every year, the Getty Foundation offers a limited number of internships to students who want to pursue careers in the visual arts. Competition is high, and the internships are typically awarded to doctoral students. But this year a Meadows master’s student in art history has landed the internship. 

Starting in September 2014, grad student Rheagan Martin will be helping Getty curators with research and preparations for upcoming exhibitions in the manuscripts department of the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Martin, who will receive his master’s degree in May 2014, will spend a year at the Getty, during which he will also apply to graduate schools to pursue a doctoral degree. 

According to Martin, most manuscript and rare book departments are found in libraries, but the Getty is different – theirs is located in a museum. 

“This means they have the opportunity and responsibility to actively display their collection through exhibitions,” he says. “There is also a greater effort to make connections between the manuscripts and other art objects.” 

The Getty is home to artwork by van Gogh, Rembrandt and Manet and has an extensive collection of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present. This suits Martin just fine; he is highly interested in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italian art and is currently completing his master's thesis on a small portrait medal of Isabella d'Este (1474-1539), a noblewoman who lived in the northern Italian city-state of Mantua. “She had many of the medals cast in a variety of materials and gave them as diplomatic and personal gifts,” says Martin. “She kept one copy in gold for herself and had it framed with the letters of her name written in diamonds. I am interested in numismatics (coins and medals) as a tool for identity construction and the distribution of authority across a broad geography, as well as their relation to other media such as manuscripts and prints.” 

Martin appreciates the support he received from faculty in the Art History Department as he earned his master’s degree. “My advisor, Dr. Lisa Pon, and my second recommender, Dr. Sarah Kozlowski, have been incredibly generous with their time, offering guidance as I complete my thesis and transition out of the Master of Arts program,” says Martin. “I am also grateful to Dr. Eric White in SMU’s Bridwell Library for providing me with hands-on knowledge of manuscripts.” 

Chair of Art History Pamela Patton says she is pleased that a Meadows art history student has succeeded in competing for the Getty internship.  “This is the second year in a row we’ve placed a finishing master’s student at the Getty in its highly competitive internship program,” says Patton. “We are very proud of Rheagan, whose success speaks to the caliber and commitment of graduate students in both our programs. This offers a wonderful opportunity to advance his education and career.” 

“I feel very fortunate to have been accepted at the M.A. level,” says Martin. “It will form the ideal bridge between completing my master's and applying to Ph.D. programs in art history next year.” 

Read more about graduate studies at Meadows Art History Department.

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