Many students arrive at Wake Forest with little idea of what majors they intend to pursue, but such was not the case for Meghan Collins, who grew up in Connecticut and attended high school in London. She knew that she was interested in studying art history as a freshman and subsequently enrolled in a high-level art history seminar her first semester.
“In high school I took an AP Art History course and I already had an interest in it,” she said. “Then, freshman year, I took modern art with Professor Jay Curley and he as a professor really challenged me.”
Professor Curley, likewise, recognized Collins’ early promise.
“I knew that Meghan was a special type of student when, in her first year at Wake, she took an advanced art history seminar full of graduating majors,” he said. “She did more than hold her own in such an intimidating context.”
Collins declared a communication and art history double major.
One of Collins’s favorite aspects of the art history major was her interaction with the learned and dedicated faculty, many of whom have published their own books.
“The professors are really invested in their students at Wake Forest and they want them to succeed and go beyond the basic requirements of the art history degree,” she said. “It’s really nice to talk to people who are experts and Professor Curley has really helped me with the process of applying to graduate school and writing my honors thesis.”
Professor Curley also commented on Collins’ prowess in the art history department and the advancement of her honors thesis.
“I have been learning much from Meghan this semester; her honors thesis project is the most developed and intellectually rich that I have encountered in my time at Wake,” he said.
During her career at Wake Forest, she has also developed as an artist in her own right by taking advanced painting seminars. She noted that oil painting has been a primary focus.
When asked about her biggest takeaways from Wake Forest, Collins stressed the importance of taking advantage of the rich variety of resources that accompany a modern liberal arts education, particularly within the art history department.
“I always make an effort every semester to go to different talks and seminars that I’m interested in in the art department,” she said. “We’ve had some amazing artists come and exhibit their works in the Hanes Gallery and give talks.”
Collins and her classmates in her advanced painting seminar will have the opportunity to exhibit their own work in some of the same galleries where they have been exposed to the work of professional artists.
“Our advanced painting seminar is putting on our own art exhibition at the START Gallery,” Collins said. “It’s a class of all girls and it’s funny to see how all of our work has been influencing each other, and a lot of it has to do with feminist ideas. It’s really cool to be able to exhibit our work in a professional art gallery.”
Her contributions explore the nature of the female body in relation to popular culture and popular imagery.
“One of the paintings I have in the Hanes Gallery now is called Make America Pink Again, and it is all vintage fashion images of women and advertisements in women’s magazines,” Collins said. “I thought it was interesting to see how things are marketed to women because the are so sexualized. I think my interest in pop art has really influenced my own work.”
Next year, Collins will continue to study art history at Columbia University.