Art Works

By Lynn Conlee

Late in spring semester 2014, an outburst of cheerful exuberance erupted from one end of Palmer Hall. Ellie Skochdopole ’15, a Rhodes Student Associate in the Office of Communications, ran around exclaiming, “I got it! I got it!” Here’s why:

“I had been in Paris the summer before and I wanted to top it. I wanted to spend the summer in Washington, D.C., with my sister. The Smithsonian was the biggest name there I could think of and it just happened that they needed a public affairs intern in the National Portrait Gallery there. I just shot for the stars,” she says.

In doing so, Skochdopole joined a growing list of exceptional art and art history majors who gain valuable experience while at Rhodes and go on to successful careers in the arts.

“We are bridging academic training with opportunities that get our students off campus and help them think about the possibilities of art careers,” says Dr. David McCarthy, professor of art. “It is very competitive for these positions, and the fact that our students are getting these internships and jobs is a testament to the quality of education that Rhodes offers.”

Among her many duties, Skochdopole handled all social media for the gallery and spearheaded the gallery’s participation in the Smithsonian Summer Showdown, a competition that challenged each division of the Smithsonian to submit one of its works that was its most iconic representation. The gallery’s submission of Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of President George Washington won in the category of art, but ultimately lost the competition to the National Zoo’s entry of Bao Bao, the giant panda.

The internship proved a turning point in Skochdopole’s thinking about her future. “I didn’t really have a clear career track, but now I know I want to go into museum and art communications.”