“We have an art historian on our hands.”
This is what Professor Leigh Ann Hallberg told senior Lynn Huffard after she turned in a paper for her first year seminar, Discovering the Avant Garde. Huffard, who had always been interested in art, history and writing, immediately knew she wanted to pursue a degree in art history after taking that FYS course.
“It just felt like I understood it,” Huffard said. “Looking at a piece of work, deconstructing it, and using that as a vehicle to talk about things. I really liked that process.”
Throughout her time at Wake Forest, Huffard has taken on a variety of roles to ensure that students across campus can appreciate art. From helping to curate the most recent exhibit in the Hanes Gallery, Black Portraiture: Explorations of Self, to eventually interning with the gallery, Huffard has become a stalwart within the art history department.
“I was immediately impressed by Lynn’s commitment to her work and her passion for art history,” said Katie Wolf, the assistant director of Hanes Gallery. “She gave so much of her time and talent to the exhibition, especially after the end of her class requirements. She was our intern for a full year, focusing on educational outreach, and her efforts were valued beyond estimation. I’m so proud of [Huffard], and I wish her all the best in the future.”
Art History Professor Jay Curely echoed a similar sentiment.
“I have so many memories [with Huffard], as I worked as her advisor on three significant projects — her excellent Honors thesis on a Black American abstract painter, her curation of an important show exhibition on Black portraiture that was in Hanes Gallery this year, her involvement in the Student Union Art Acquisitions Committee that just recently revealed their selections to the university. I have learned so much from Lynn!” Curley said.
When Huffard speaks about the classes she has taken, her face lights up. Even her divisionals have sparked interest — from the philosophy class that helped inform her thesis to the introductory astronomy course that made her think about the world differently, Huffard has made the most of the interdisciplinary nature of a Wake Forest education.
“A class that I loved so much, because it really challenged the way I think about the spaces we live in, was History of World Architecture,” Huffard said. “You know, it’s an introductory level course but I think everyone should take it because I think learning about the way we as people move through spaces and experience spaces. I just think there is something so interesting about seeing that history unfold and seeing these beautiful monuments to human civilization throughout time.”
Clearly, her professors recognize her passion for critical thinking and exploration within the discipline.
“Her comments in class discussions would make everyone, including me, see long-familiar images in new ways and push conversations in surprising and exciting directions,” Curley said. “She even did this as a sophomore in a class full of seniors. Basically, if a class was comprised of all Lynns, then it would be something like a graduate school seminar.”
While reflecting on her experience as a major, Huffard emphasized how much studying art history can shift one’s worldview.
“Ultimately, [art] is just another way for people to describe the world,” Huffard said. “I think people are really focused on STEM and business at this school. I think that science is beautiful and it is one way to describe the world, but art is just another way of doing it — you’re doing it on a canvas, you’re doing it as a sculpture, a photograph, a building.”
Some of Huffard’s favorite memories at Wake include spending time on Hearn Plaza with friends, especially when golden hour arrives and campus has that special glow. Similarly, her art history perspective shines through as she speaks on her time at Wake Forest:
“I was just walking from Q lot to here, and I am very sentimental in the way that — whenever I walk through campus — I just always remember stories or moments of ‘oh I lived there,’ or ‘that funny thing happened there,’” Huffard said. “It’s almost like landmarks and memories are tied into the campus.”
Outside of her academic pursuits, Huffard has been involved with WFU Style — Wake Forest’s fashion and lifestyle blog — during her time on campus. Huffard’s love for fashion and passion for visual storytelling is culminating in her post-graduation plans: she will be working at Abercrombie & Fitch Corporate Headquarters and doing visual merchandising through their leadership development program.
When asked what advice she had for freshman, Huffard had a simple response:
“Do what makes your heart tick.”