Institutional News

Announcing the 2021 Museum Fellows Term Cohort

mft google map

Six students from Bennington College have been selected as Frankenthaler Fellows for the 2021 Museum Fellows Term.

A five-month work-integrated learning program that provides participants with practical, professional experience at a major cultural institution, the program has previously been rooted in New York City—but this year looks a little different. 

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cohort has shifted to remote internships and classes, and Fellows are finding that they are able to participate in global art experiences.

We are pleased to partner with Bennington College to offer this unique program that connects the next generation of artworld innovators with preeminent artistic and cultural institutions in and around New York City. The current cohort of students is adapting resiliently to the changes required by this year’s remote learning structure in their work placements and classes,” said Executive Director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Elizabeth Smith.

In addition to ongoing partnerships with New York-based museums such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Rubin Museum of Art, and the New Museum, Elizabeth White, Visual Arts faculty member and program director, is also excited to expand their work with the Dia Art Foundation; this will be the first year that a Bennington alum, Meagan Mattingly ‘00, director of Learning and Engagement, will be supervising one of the Fellows. Other new internships this year include two with artist-endowed Foundations: one with the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation’s Catalogue Raisonné project, and one with the Al Held Foundation, which is based in the Hudson Valley. While the remote situation is perhaps not ideal, it has allowed for geographic flexibility and expanded the range of institutions with which Fellows can work, and the individuals and communities with whom they can connect. 

Julia Itzler ‘22, who is interning at the New Museum in their Education and Public Engagement Department, says the opportunities are exciting this year, despite the virtual limitations. “The most exciting thing about my fellowship this year is that I get to assist with a virtual youth group that centers LGBTQ teens,” said Itzler, adding that the museums have created experiences where artists engage with art practices inspired by the artist “visits.” “It is so meaningful to have the ability to connect with people virtually and build a supportive community.”

Another benefit of the program’s configuration this year is that the fellows were given the option to live together on campus in their own house, take advantage of the meal plans, and have access to other campus resources such as the library. And because their site visits are virtual through Zoom, this opens the door to national—and international—art experiences. “It’s been a nice way to expand their awareness of institutions, programming, and conversations happening in the art world,” said Elizabeth White. Students are mapping the locations of the institutions where they meet people and attend events on a collaborative Google Map, and tracking virtual programming by following over one hundred art institutions around the world. Platforms like Slack have also broadened the way the fellows interact and share information with each other.

“We find ourselves in a historically ripe moment in the (art) world. Still reeling from the global pandemic, institutions of all shapes and sizes are having to reckon with their role in society as either upholding or challenging systems of oppression. I appreciate the conversations that have come out of this moment and hope that they lead to meaningful, equitable change,” said Reshavan Naicker ‘22, who is interning in the Development department at Studio Museum in Harlem. 

The fellows are also meeting with a variety of Bennington alumni around the country that are established in their respective art fields, such as Fatima Zaidi '16 (MFT '15), board member at the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective and Campaign Coordinator at The Studio Museum in Harlem; Thais Glazman ‘16 (MFT '15), artist and founder, The 405 Project; River Valadez '20 (MFT '19), artist, and Director of the Resident Artist Program for Peter Lane; Cristian Petru Panaite ‘05, Associate Curator of Exhibitions, New-York Historical Society Museum & Library; Jeff Arnal MFA ‘00, Executive Director, Black Mountain College Museum and Art Center—and more to come. 

While their fellowships are a bit different this year in light of COVID-19, the 2021 Frankenthaler Fellows have jumped at the chance to seek art experiences and conversations across the globe.


2021 Museum Fellows and Partners

Dia Art Foundation

  • Ayesha Bashir ‘22, Learning and Engagement and Curatorial Intern

Al Held Foundation

  • Nellie Engle ‘22, Archives Intern

New Museum

  • Julia Itzler ‘22, Education Intern

The Studio Museum in Harlem

  • Reshavan Naicker ‘22, Development Intern

Rubin Museum of Art

  • Kayly Hernandez Panameno ‘22, Public Programming Intern

Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Catalogue Raisonné 

  • Ahwar Sultan ‘22, Project Intern

About the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation

Established and endowed by Helen Frankenthaler during her lifetime, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation advances the artist’s legacy and inspires a new generation of practitioners through a range of philanthropic, educational, and research initiatives. Since becoming active in 2013, the Foundation has continued to strategically expand its program, which includes organizing and supporting significant exhibitions of the artist’s work, fostering new research and publications, advancing educational programs in partnership with arts organizations around the world, and launching groundbreaking initiatives that foster systemic change in the field. As a primary resource on the artist, and a steward of her collection and archive, the Foundation holds an extensive selection of Frankenthaler’s work in a variety of mediums, her collection of works by other artists, and original papers and materials pertaining to her life and work.

About Helen Frankenthaler ‘49

Helen Frankenthaler '49, in addition to being one of the most influential and defining artists of the last 50 years, remains one of the pivotal figures in the College’s history. In 2015 the College named the visual arts wing of its 120,000-square-foot arts facility the Helen Frankenthaler Visual Arts Center, in honor of the remarkable alum.