Austin Peay Art Student Immersed in Opportunity, Discovery of Hazel Smith Scholarship

CLARKSVILLE, TN — In its second year, Austin Peay State University’s Hazel Smith Summer Fellowship again offered “a wonderful opportunity” for a student to immerse herself in the art collection of the university.

But the scholarship offered even more than that to this year’s recipient – ​​Rheanne Bouchard, who is entering her final year toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in studio art.

“It’s helped me a lot because I’m gaining experience for what I want to do later,” the Palmer, Alaska native said.

A recent endowment from Mark and Martha Em Raby helped establish the Summer Fellowship, which offers an art + design student the opportunity to work with Michael Dickins, director of Austin Peay and curator of the new gallery and university art collections.

The Raby Gift provides funding for the position each year, and the Austin Peay Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts provides a matching amount.

“Just being able to talk to Michael, ask him questions and get his advice is invaluable,” Bouchard said. “It helps me understand what awaits me after I graduate. Talking to someone – and getting hands-on experience – doing what I want to do in life is a huge help.

Over the summer, Bouchard gained hands-on experience documenting, researching, and manipulating artwork in the university’s art collection. She also helped Dickins prepare for the first show of the fall season – “Paula Kovarik: Herd” from August 17 to September 17. 16.

“It’s also about preserving the artwork and making sure it’s properly maintained,” said Bouchard, who estimated that she and Dickins removed 100 artworks from their frames to improve the mat or backing.

The duo also continued to add to the new Austin Peay Art Database, an online project that makes the university’s extensive art collection more accessible to the public.

For a week over the summer, Bouchard said he added photographs of about 150 pieces to the database.

“We have one of his pieces!

Bouchard thrived working with the database, especially when she and Dickins uncovered and solved the mysteries that exist in the collection.

“I love being able to find a room and make sure all the records about it are accurate,” she said. “We found a bunch of pieces this summer that we had no information on and once we took them out of their frames we found all this information written on the back.

“We were like, ‘OK, who is this artist?’ she added. “When we were looking for them, we found the actual piece we had.”

One of their main finds was a mixed media painting by Si Lewen, a Polish-American painter who served in the US military after he and his brother fled to France and then to the United States when Adolf Hitler arrived in power in the 1930s. Art Spiegelman, author of the internationally acclaimed graphic novel “Maus”, published “Lewen’s Parade: An Artist’s Odyssey” in 2016, a book that celebrates the painter and reissued his pieces that depict the horrors of the war.

“It was in that setting and when we watched it, it was all unknown,” Bouchard said. “We didn’t know who did it. We didn’t know the title. We didn’t know anything.

“But when we took it out of the frame, everything was written on the back, his name, the date and the title,” she added. “We were like, ‘Oh, my God, this is crazy. We have one of his plays!

Other discoveries include a portrait drawing of Aaron Douglas and 10 prints made by renowned photographer Deborah Gould Hall.

‘Look what we found, isn’t it crazy?’

When Bouchard graduates, she wants to do more of what she did during the summer scholarship.

“I’d like to work in a museum or gallery because I’ve experienced installing and uninstalling, and I think I’m really good at working with databases,” she said. “I’m really interested in continuing this kind of work because it’s super interesting to find these hidden gems and share them with other people and say, ‘Look what we found, right? mad ?'”

Bouchard follows in the footsteps of graphic design student Katie Boyer, the first summer researcher Hazel Smith.

“The Rabys’ support has been invaluable to the University’s art collection,” said Dickins. “He provided us with the necessary assistance to focus on the collection and the collection database and to discover/rediscover important works of art in the collection.”

Increase the accessibility of collections

The grant also enabled Bouchard and Dickins to install more than 115 works of art in three campus buildings to increase the collection’s visibility and educational impact on students, faculty, and staff.

‘This summer we have installed work in the new College Street advice centre, third floor Ellington and throughout Trahern,’ Dickins said. “This would not have been possible without Rheanne’s desire to learn and actively engage while on this fellowship.

“Our plan is for her to continue that outreach this fall and further integrate the collection into the daily life of the Austin Peay community,” he added.

The endowments are permanently restricted funds managed by the Austin Peay State University Foundation. The amount of each scholarship may vary and will be determined based on the value of the endowment and the spending plan of the foundation.

To support APSU’s fundraising initiatives, contact the Office of Alumni, Engagement and Philanthropy at 931-221-7127.

Kayleen C. Rice