Name: Joseph Shaikewitz
Class Year: 2015
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Major(s): History of Art
Minor(s): Museums & Society
Current Job: Executive Assistant for Programs, Center for Curatorial Leadership
Current Location: New York, NY
Internships/Pre-Professional Experiences at JHU: Jobs and curatorial internships at The Baltimore Museum of Art, Gallery CA, The Phillips Collection, L’Inlassable Galerie, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, The Contemporary
Clubs/Sports/Groups at JHU: Student Admissions Advisory Board, Museums & Society Student Advisory Board
Favorite JHU Memory: My final day of classes at Hopkins coincided with the deadline for my History of Art thesis. It’s a piece of writing that I had been working on for well over a year and revolved around an exhibition of the artist Pierre Huyghe that I’d seen at the Centre Pompidou while studying abroad in France. I had spent countless hours researching, thinking through complex ideas, meeting with my advisor, writing, editing, struggling, and culling through the 7-11 candy aisle for energy and sugar-coated motivation. Handing in my final draft was the culmination of so much hard work and a firm belief in the importance of art historical work and it stands out as—hands down—my most meaningful moment at Hopkins.
What about being a Hopkins student do you miss the most?
The time. In college, thinking, learning, and developing is your full-time job. No matter how busy your schedule, you’re given the opportunity to devote ample time to absorbing what’s important to you. Learning still does (and should) take place after graduation, but it’s oftentimes off-the-cuff, be it poring over books during a commute or in conversation with friends at dinner. At Hopkins, the academic climate is so stimulating and left a real impact on me.
Knowing what you know now, what would you want to tell your pre-college self?
Be patient with yourself. The expectations and novelty of college are not things that you can prepare yourself for– and it will take time. Adjusting to the rigor, learning a new city on a deep level, finding a group of friends who really get you—these things take time, but will come if you prioritize and work at them.
Of equal importance: nuggets and fries are the best value at UniMini; go to the Alloverstreet art walk every month; the corn dogs farthest from the Homewood House are the very best that Spring Fair has to offer; and stay gracious.
How do you feel Hopkins prepared you for where you are now?
When I first came to Hopkins (straight out of my Missouri public school), I was unconfident and frankly unprepared for the level of thinking and writing that my discipline would call for (read: up until that point my grandest academic achievement was writing a four-page essay). It’s been truly gratifying to have my writing validated post-graduation and throws me for a loop each and every time.
How did going to school in Baltimore affect your college experience?
Baltimore wholly shaped my college experience like no other city could have. This city houses a vibrant and unprecedented art scene, despite (and arguably in spite of) its positioning outside of major arts ‘capitals.’ As a result, I was able to engage with artists and thinkers in an accessible environment; with less barriers than an established art world, I had the chance to fully immerse myself in Baltimore’s art scene and find a place for myself within it.
My senior year, I had the opportunity to curate the first American solo-exhibition of the emerging French artist Thomas Teurlai. As I navigated the complexities of locating a venue, sourcing materials, finding a studio space, producing a publication, and garnering an audience, my relationship with Baltimore proved to be both manifest and instrumental.
Who was your favorite professor/what was your favorite class and why?
I stay in touch with a surprising amount of my professors, which astounds me when I stop and consider how objectively esteemed they are in their own academic right. The professor who continuously stands out for me is Elizabeth Rodini, the director of the Program in Museums & Society. She recognized my desire for a curatorial career early on and provided endless support, both professional and personal, over my four years at Hopkins. There are numerous professors whom I’m indebted to when it comes to where I am today, but Professor Rodini effectively tops the list.