Anna Talley is one of HAD’s BFA students from class of 2019. After her journey at Pratt, she went to pursue a Master degree at the Royal College of Art/Victoria and Albert Museum. Below is Anna’s reflection about her career trajectory and time at Pratt.
While I was a student at Pratt, I made sure to take advantage of all the opportunities the city had to offer. After being introduced to the area’s museums and galleries by my professors, I spent nearly every weekend going to exhibitions and attending talks, which helped me discover that I was interested in curatorial practice. To test my interest, which was a break away from my original intention to become a graphic designer, I applied to several internship positions that cemented my desire to one day work in museums. In the spring and summer of my junior year, I was an intern for the curator of design and decorative arts at the Metropolitan Museum. That autumn, I began assisting with curators at the Cooper Hewitt on an exhibition, in addition to working as an editorial intern at Modern Magazine and The Magazine Antiques. This was all while working at the Pratt Galleries, which provided me with a fantastic experience in the practicalities of organizing and mounting exhibitions—I hung quite a few paintings and spent a lot of time filling in the nail holes once the paintings were taken down!
For my senior thesis, I investigated the exhibition Latin America in Posters which was curated by Mildred Constantine in 1941. I visited the MoMA archives, the Rockefeller archives, and even went to Washington DC to get a fuller picture of the scope and history of the exhibition by Constantine, who is better known for her role as a curator at MoMA. Researching the work of a female curator of design, a generation before me, was extremely inspiring. I credit my thesis project with cementing my interest in design history and research. Research is not done simply sitting at a desk—it involves talking to people involved, rummaging through old paper, and synthesizing stories and ideas into a cohesive narrative that is often more complicated, and more interesting, than the question you set out to answer.
After graduating with my BFA in the History of Art and Design from Pratt in 2019, I spent the summer working as an intern in the Architecture and Design Department at the Museum of Modern Art. Not wasting much time, I moved to London in the fall to begin my Masters in Design History and Material Culture at the Victoria & Albert/Royal College of Art. Based in the museum itself, I have had the opportunity to work for the V&A’s Design Architecture and Digital department as a curatorial volunteer while completing my studies. Though the pandemic was, of course, disruptive, a colleague and I decided to mobilize our skills as researchers and launched Design in Quarantine, a digital archive of design responses to COVID-19. My personal research on the program revolved around modern communication design, which ultimately informed my PhD proposal on the topic of design and fake news. I’m interested in exploring the intersections between design history and the digital humanities and working in tandem with practitioners to marry academic research with real-world solutions to contemporary issues.
Though I’ve now left Brooklyn, my fondest memories of Pratt are the London Plane trees and birches on campus in the spring. I know everyone waxes on about the beauty of Pratt’s campus, but all clichés have a grain of truth! Nothing compares to finishing up reading for Baroque Visual Culture in the fresh air, sitting in the sun, after having been stuck inside Willoughby all winter.
If you have any questions about Pratt or my experience in the History of Art and Design program, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on Twitter (@annaktalley) and Instagram (@anna.k.talley).