Student Spotlight: Alison Kipe C’21

Alison Kipe C’21                                     

What attracted you to Drew?  

I wanted the ability to take many different courses and build my own path to my prospective field. I was also recruited into the school by the fencing team, which I enjoyed immensely but am no longer part of. Plus, I was really interested in the Semester on Contemporary Art in New York City.

Why did you choose Art History and Studio Art as majors and Chemistry, Italian and German as minors?

Originally I wanted a double major in Art History and Italian with a minor in Studio Art, but through taking classes and talking to my advisor Dr. Kim Rhodes, I decided my majors and minors would be a better grouping.

I chose my majors specifically with the intention of going into Art Conservation for graduate school. The programs require very specific prerequisites, so I had to plan from the first semester all of my classes. Admittedly, I didn’t really need to take a full Studio Art major, languages minors, or Chemistry minor, but ultimately I enjoyed the classes enough that I wanted to keep taking more past my requirements.

I started studying German freshman year of high school, and I maintain that our German department is one of the best departments at Drew. I started learning Italian my freshman year to open more job opportunities potentially working in Europe in the future and also my family originally came from Italy.

Have you done any internships?

I have worked since the beginning of sophomore year within the Drew Library/Archives as an intern book conservator. I have been working to repair, rehouse, and when necessary display books and objects owned by the library and Special collections. I’ve worked on several fun projects like repairing and organizing the Athletics Hall of Fame portraits, rehousing/creating a labelling system for the Byron collection, and rehousing our Greek krater. Additionally, this year I have been heading the department training 3 new student workers in an effort to begin a student-run lab that can self-train.

Do you have any mentors at Drew?

My most influential mentor on campus was Masato Okinaka (no longer at Drew).  He trained me in book conservation and the ethics of conservation. Additionally, he welcomed me into the library space and helped me plan for my future career.

As for professors currently on campus, Professor Jason Karolak was immensely helpful in my art degree.  He influenced the way I think about color and has consistently helped me grow beyond the work I was currently producing. Within the sciences, Professor Juliette Lantz, who is my current independent study advisor, has been an amazing support to expand my thinking within chemistry to help bridge the chemical world and the artistic one. Within Art History, the entire department, Professors Kim Rhodes, Rita Keane, and Peggy Kuntz, has helped me progress my writing and think critically about the field. Plus, they have each in their own way helped me bridge the art history field with that of art conservation.

Have you studied abroad? Done any short, long, nycTRECs?

I went on a shortTREC in Orvieto for my Italian minor after freshman year. I loved the trip and it was truly one of the best ways to learn Italian. I was able to speak with my host family in Italian daily, as well as my native Italian professor, while also spending time with an entirely unfamiliar group of people from Drew. I can say that even though I haven’t kept up with all of them, they became genuine close friends during the trip who I have missed dearly as they graduated above me.

I also participated in the Semester on Contemporary Art in NYC as a requirement for both of my majors. It unfortunately happened during COVID, which severely limited our ability to “travel” but we got a close look into the art world and allowed me to look beyond a historical perspective and look at the art world as it currently stands. I would say the quarantine version was definitely not as immersive compared to prior years, but one positive was that we had the chance to speak to people from other cities that we wouldn’t have been able to speak to before.

“I am Woman”, 9/2020, oil on canvas, 48×48 in.|Alison Kipe

What issue in the world means the most to you?

I feel passionately about racial injustice, wage disparity, and gender equity. If we can’t recognize major problems in our society, how can we look critically at our own behavior to help be part of the solution? I came from a very sheltered town with not many people that thought or looked different than me. The people I have met at Drew, specifically the student body, have helped me learn how to look critically at the world and grow into a person I can confidently say is better than before I got here. To the particular question of the issue that means the most, I think that everyone has the right to exist and shouldn’t be punished or be hurt by others for simply trying to live their lives.

What are a few of your favorite memories of Drew? 

My favorite memories have been: on the fencing team bus hanging out and chatting with friends, meeting up with people at the Commons before playing board games all night, spending all afternoon in the DOYO before running out to meet others to watch an episode of Game of Thrones only to run right back to the DOYO for the rest of the night, and finally my lovely time with those I have lived with both at the Art House and my current quad mates in Riker. It isn’t very often you can say you literally have baked cookies and braided people’s hair in the middle of the night but these darlings made my last two years wonderful.

How has your identity in the Faith, Religion & Spirituality Community been part of your journey at Drew?

I have been able to find/make a community of pagans on campus and we, before COVID, were able to come together and celebrate together without worrying about others’ judgements. Not everyone understands, but the friends who have gone out of their way to make my practice and beliefs feel recognized have helped make my time at Drew feel more comfortable.

What advice would you give students who are just starting out that you wish you had when you started?

Sort out your credits from the start. Make a plan freshman year and build from there. If you take control of your classes from the beginning you can do all of the classes, clubs, and activities you would like to do without becoming overwhelmed. Additionally, learn to set boundaries. It took me until junior year to really learn about them, but it is important to recognize where your limits are, both with time constraints and social interactions. Your mental health is ultimately your primary concern. Doing something extra for someone as a favor would be nice, but if it takes up the last of your free time and you can’t take a break for the next week, it is ok to just say no.

What are your career goals? Where do you hope to be in 5 years?

I have refined my goals to hopefully work as an object conservator working on arms and armor.

“Transition 3”, 10/2020, oil and spray paint on canvas, 22×28 in. | Alison Kipe

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