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An internship with noted African American artist Paul Keene is giving Lafayette College senior Medinah Salaam of East Windsor, N.J., experience in her chosen field, art. Salaam is assisting in the writing and design of an exhibition catalogue for the Philadelphia-based artist and learning first-hand about the realities of the art world.

“I’m writing and taking pictures for the catalogue, describing the different steps involved in creating each piece of art,” Salaam says. The exhibit will be mounted next year in the gallery of Lafayette’s Black Cultural Center.

With its behind-the-scenes look at the art world the internship has changed her perspective on the artistic process.

“Before I would just look at a picture or print. But now I see things more in-depth,” she says. “You learn why an artist makes a certain choice about a composition; you really understand the feeling and emotion behind a particular work.”

She caught the attention of Curlee Raven Holton, associate professor of art and director of Lafayette’s Experimental Printmaking Institute. Noting Salaam’s talent — and understanding her ambivalence about art as a possible career — Holton offered her guidance and an opportunity to get a glimpse of artists’ lives and work through an internship. She recently changed her major from biology to art.

“Professor Holton was great,” she says. “He always encouraged me in his classes. He helped me focus on a direction. He asked me to do this internship and recommended me for another one.”

Holton says, “Medinah works very hard. She excited about this project. She became familiar with Paul Keene’s art while he was working here at Lafayette. Choosing an art major, even at this late stage in her career, seems to be something she’s comfortable with.”

Salaam enjoys graphic design work and hopes to channel her artistic energies into the commercial art world through a career in promotional work or advertising.

Salaam is president of NIA, a multicultural women’s organization, and a member of the Association of Black Collegians, the National Society of Black Engineers.

Categorized in: Academic News