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Alumni Achievements

SPOTLIGHT:  Hannah Hirano
Graduation Year: 2014
Major: Art, Arts Administration
Current position: Coordinator for Conservation and Museum Services, Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Hannah Hirano

In this position, I work in two divisions: Conservation, primarily as the assistant to the Chief Conservator, and as an administrative aide to the Registrars, Exhibition Design and Preparator groups that comprise Museum Services. Most of my responsibilities are clerical or deal with financial administration, including organizing meetings, tracking budgets for a multitude of projects, event planning and execution, and communication between divisions.

My departments are directly involved with the stewardship of the collection, which has allowed me to enjoy a different perspective on the life of an artwork in museums like SAM (including the downtown site, Olympic Sculpture Park, and the Asian Art Museum). I am especially interested in all aspects of maintaining SAM’s collections that reference its mission "SAM connects art to life," because it so actively and dynamically draws on its distinct archive and collections, connecting them through intellectual and relevant arts programming to the particular history of Seattle.

I was fortunate to be in a position to dedicate the time to internships, and be influenced by the example of my incredibly dedicated and intelligent supervisors, with whom I am very proud to work with today, and to whom I owe a tremendous amount. They advocate extending opportunities to people with a strong work ethic and investment in the art, and I love their example in voicing where they want the museum to change, to expand its perspective, and to criticize itself. I've personally become much more aware of how a museum can construct cultural narratives in its exhibits and demonstrate cultural prowess in the dynamics of essentially any aspect of its public interactions and operation. It's important to me to examine its practices with a sociological imagination. I do want to continue to work in a museum setting to some degree, likely after completing graduate school. I personally hope to continue in some capacity related to curatorial work.

Why Whitworth: Along with the arts administration program, I was drawn in by the genuinely warm welcome I received from the Whitworth orchestra and music community. Being able to jump right into a supportive and dedicated music program that was playing challenging pieces with grace and had so much compassion for its members was representative to me of what I wanted—and experienced on the whole—from Whitworth.

Why I chose to major in art and arts administration: I love painting and drawing, and I had enjoyed volunteering for a community art center while in high school. I wanted these majors when I first applied to Whitworth because I couldn't imagine not making anything or not having a studio background, and I wanted to be self-sufficient as an artist. I thought it would also help me gain a broader understanding of the cultures of different types of arts organizations, and it definitely did.

How did the art department shape you?: The faculty of the art department have been wonderfully influential through classes, advising, mentoring me as a teaching assistant, seeing their artwork and being in conversation with them at any hour. They have been steadfast in their support, integrity, honesty, critique and studio experience, as well as amazing company. Most of the things I love about art—the practice in making, learning history, the act of viewing—every experience that has led to my obsession with it today—grew through discussion with them and by listening to them. They cultivated in me a desire for depth in my understanding, and will to action to be a decent human being. I haven't actually made very much art at all since graduating, but I am always, always thinking of where I want to go with my own practice and am galvanized to continue to try when I think of them.

Whitworth Activities: Whitworth University Symphony Orchestra, 2011-14; Laureate Society, 2011-2014; Script Art Editor, 2014. I also went on the "Power & Politics in Art" Jan-term class with Dr. Strauch in 2013 with Dr. Strauch.

Quote: I particularly love one truism from Jenny Holzer's (somewhat mutable work that should really be experienced as intended) TRUISMS (1978-1987): POTENTIAL COUNTS FOR NOTHING UNTIL IT'S REALIZED.

Career Goals: In the near future, I plan to apply to graduate programs focused on new media and contemporary art history and theory. I would like to continue to work in a modern art museum structure, but I'm interested in working more directly with artists and artworks, especially to study and inquire firsthand about how art, particularly in the context of the Internet, interrogates and intervenes in the normal channels of value and labor, aesthetics and distribution, perception and experience. I also want to study this within a framework that values multiplicity and intersectionality in personal and cultural narratives. For now, this means challenging myself to look at and talk about art more, and in more varied settings, which translates to a career path engaged in curatorial research if I want to continue to work with exhibiting venues like museums.

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Here's what some other recent Whitworth graduates are doing with their art degrees:

  • Anneka Baird has been accepted to California's Mills College, in the MFA program, to study creative writing and book arts.
  • Christa Prentiss has been accepted to the Institute of Chicago School of Art's MA Art Therapy Program, beginning fall 2016.
  • Susan Vander Kooi has been accepted to Clemson University's MFA program, beginning fall 2016.
  • Sophia Du Val (art history) is working on a research project documenting the art of a local collector before heading on to work on a master’s degree in library science.
  • Nate Elefson is a preparator at the Visual Art Center at the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated with his MFA.
  • Megan Stirling is an assistant professor of Art at Westmont College, Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • Chloe Dye Sherpe is associate curator at Museum of Northwest Art, in La Conner, Wash.
  • Laura Cotton is art curator and gallery manager at the University of Michigan – Dearborn.
  • In 2015, Kellen Pacheco received his M.A. from the College of Design at Iowa State University. He is currently an intern at Invision Architecture.
  • Thayer Wild (art and chemistry double-major) is the architectural designer at Weinstein AU Architects and Urban Designers, in Seattle.
  • Lindsey Merrell is the commercial art and advertising teacher at Eisenhower High School (Yakima, Wash.); John Merrell works as a graphic designer in the area.
  • Marco Tulluck is pursuing a career in international education at Saint Martin's University, in Lacey, Wash. He is currently the associate dean of international programs at Saint Martin's.
  • Maddison Colvin received her MFA from Brigham Young University and is displaying work at a local gallery.
  • Bryan Putnam received an MFA from the University of Oregon; he is currently exhibiting his work and teaching at the University of Oregon.
  • Betty Gardner has had works accepted to a number of juried exhibits and has worked on a commission with acclaimed sculptor Sister Paula Turnbull. Betty hopes to run a gallery and studio from her home in Priest River, Idaho.
  • Damon Buck is a graphic designer for Legatum, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.


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