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Students present at Art Institute of Chicago’s University Partner Fest

blochwitz with chagall windows Elise Blochwitz ’23 presented an art talk about Marc Chagall’s America Windows.
March 07, 2023
Meghan O'Toole

Elise Blochwitz ’23, Sarah Mubarek ’23, and James D. Vail III Professor of Art History Emerita Ann Roberts presented as part of the Art Institute of Chicago’s University Partner Fest on Saturday, February 25.

The University Partner Fest is a daylong event at the Art Institute of Chicago where students from the museum’s partner institutions are invited to explore the museum, meet their peers, and learn from faculty and museum professionals across institutions.

The event featured student art talks, a museum career panel, art-making activities, and faculty gallery activations that made exhibitions interactive with poetry, lectures, and drawing.

Blochwitz, who took part in the event as a Student Gallery Volunteer, gave an art talk about Marc Chagall’s America Windows.

“I had planned my talk around students and scholars of art and art history instead of the people I was engaging the most with—the general public. It was eye-opening to see how my own biases affected how I interacted with the museum space,” Blochwitz shared. “Museums have a history of inaccessibility, including things like admission prices, open hours, or lack of accessibility features. While those are things I can’t fix, I can make sure to make talks catered to the public, not just to the scholar.”

murabek at articMurabek also participated in the student art talks, covering Hughie-Lee Smith’s Desert Forms.

“I learned that many people in art museums avoid works of art and artists that they have a hard time understanding,” Murabek said. “Providing context and background to the work helps visitors enjoy viewing art and feel less intimidated by it.”

University Partner Fest is made possible by the University Partner Program, an initiative at the Art Institute that encourages students to learn beyond the classroom.

“Going through this experience reinforced my love and passion for the arts,” Murabek said. "I know from this experience that I am going into the right career direction.”

Blochwitz also learned more about her personal career goals after the experience: “I left the event knowing that I’m a little too introverted to make a career out of museum education. That being said, the talk was a great experience and I had so much fun chatting with folks and teaching people about America Windows. I’m extremely grateful for every opportunity the College has given me—even if I realize part way through that I’m not interested in making a career out of it. I love research, and I love connecting with folks. I’m just not the type of person who is able to engage with them all day long!”

The Art Institute of Chicago is a world-class art institution, and students can benefit from engaging with the art and resources provided by the museum.

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