Art Student Earns Internship at Smithsonian
Aaron Krish
akris821@uwsp.edu

Art and design student Tim Vermeulen recently accepted a summer internship hosted at the Smithsonian Institution to work in the art history program researching artists’ books.

“I actually came across the internship by typing ‘artists’ books internship’ into an Internet search engine,” Vermeulen said. “The Smithsonian Institution’s internship program was one of the first on the list. I was curious to see what was available to someone with my level of experience and decided to give it a shot and apply.”

Vermeulen’s definition of “artists’ books” are books that are conceived and created by an artist who intends the work to be viewed and experienced as a work of art, much like a painting or sculpture. This might mean that the artist writes the text, designs the structure, makes the paper, prints it or binds it.

“Essentially the artist makes many creative decisions regarding the presentation of the book. The internship will involve touring the libraries of the Institutions many museums looking at the artist’ books in their collections,” Vermeulen said.

By speaking with the librarians throughout the Smithsonian, asking for their impressions of the work and conducting research to better understand the history and methods of development of the books, the internship is meant to generate an awareness of what artists’ books are.

“I won’t be restricted to undertaking my research to any one museum, but rather in as many museums that hold artists’ books in their collections,” Vermeulen said. “I may also be traveling to visit a rare book dealer and a local art center where artists’ books are being created in the Washington D.C. area.”

Vermeulen will be reporting to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library on the National Mall, as well as working in the National Museum of African Art, the American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. Each institution will play a role in his research throughout the summer.

A strong interest in artists’ books drove Vermeulen to search for this internship online. Vermeulen explained that Stevens Point has a little-known nexus of three respected book artists: Brian Borchard, Caren Heft and Jeff Morin.

“I’ve had the chance to practice my hand at creating my own artist book here on campus. Taking a couple of classes with Caren and acting as her studio assistant over the summer is how I really got involved in creating work like this,” Vermeulen said.

Without the professors and courses he has taken through the Art and Design Department, Vermeulen explained that he would not have been ready for the internship.

“It’s been really hard to keep myself from creating more work like this,” Vermeulen said. “I feel as though the education I have received here at Point from all the instructors I have studied with has had some influence on my preparation for this internship, and for that I am grateful.”

Students interested in receiving more information about artists’ books can attend a show at the Scarabocchio Art Museum in downtown Stevens Point. Vermeulen and alumnus Shannon Pueschner will be co-curating a show of student-made books from July 11 to October 3.