BA in Art History

Greg Svitil, 2001

Greg Svitil

So what are you up to now professionally?

I work for AMA | Art Museum of the Americas, a museum of modern and contemporary Latin American and Caribbean art in Washington, DC. I interned for the museum as a researcher and writer during my time at Mason, and I came on as a staff member shortly after graduating in ‘01, working as a public and media relations person. I’ve been fortunate to work alongside a small, close-knit group of museum folks. I’ve tried to learn what I can from my co-workers, and I have had the chance to practice art handling, exhibit installation, administrative tasks, art workshops for children, and sound for events, alongside my usual responsibilities, which include writing and editing as well as fielding phone calls and messages that come in to the museum. We’re entrusted with caring for a collection that should outlive us with proper handling and conservation. Paintings by Candido Portinari, Alejandro Obregon, Roberto Matta, and works on paper by Aida Carballo and Amelia Palaez are among my favorites. Being involved with the lives of these and other pieces, from installing exhibitions to coordinating professional conservation and restoration, is satisfying.

How do you think your Art History major at Mason prepared you for your career?

The professors I studied with and the students I worked with were important in shaping the curiosities that brought me to this museum. Focusing on modern and contemporary American and European art provided me with a foundation for working with modern and contemporary Latin American and Caribbean art. The Art of the 60s class at Mason was my introduction to the work of Marisol Escobar, whom I continued to study during a two-semester independent studies course, in which I focused less on the woodblock and plaster sculptures of political and pop culture figures for which she is best known, and more on the introspective, self-examining, often unsettling works on paper that she made during an ambitious and exciting period peaking in the mid-70s. Less than a year before this independent studies work, AMA held an exhibition of recent sculptures by Marisol, which brought me in for repeated visits, leading to a series of interviews with museum staff and to my internship, which ultimately led me to come on as a staff member about a year later. We’ve continued to have fruitful relationships with various Mason students and professors as researchers, interns, teachers, advisors, and collaborators in exhibitions and programming.

Why did you choose Art History as a major in the first place?

Art history attracted me as an area of study since my main interests at the time were (and still are) art, writing, books, music, and movies, and while I have never had an interest in the formal study of music or movies, I did want to practice writing and learn about art in a classroom setting. Enrolling in art history courses at Mason allowed me to do both. My time at Mason provided me with a foundation that I continue to benefit from. While I’m not currently pursuing continuing formal education, the framework that I took away from Mason keeps me studying and learning on my own and from the people around me.