MA in Art History

Tammy Tran, 2017

Tammy Tran

How did you decide on the art history Masters program?

After I graduated from my undergrad art history program, I felt as though I was not finished. I wanted to know, study, and see more. I knew then that I wanted to go further into depth in my studies. I took a year off to gain some experience in the job market while also researching programs I might like to attend. Moreover, I traveled and met up with art historians/professors under whom I truly wanted to study. Finally after meeting a couple of my favorite art historians at George Mason, I knew I had to apply.

What have you learned in an art history class that really surprised you/changed your perspective?

If I had to really pick (since most of my art history courses have influenced me), I’d say it would be the Dutch Golden Age course in undergrad and so far in grad school, the Art History & Methods course. The Dutch Golden Age class was the one that made me change my major from biology to art history. I discovered how much one could learn by just looking at a work of art and analyzing its political, economic and cultural layers. I was also very impressed with the Dutch Golden Age and how curious Dutch artists were about their surroundings. It made me more appreciative of everyday life. 

My Art History & Methods class here at George Mason was invaluable. For the first time I was exposed to many different methodologies and that made me take a step back and acknowledge that there wasn’t just one way of seeing and interpreting art.  

Tell us about your dream occupation. How has your coursework helped further your plans?

I’m still in the process of figuring that out. I see myself doing many different things. Ultimately, I would love to continue reading, writing, and researching no matter where I am, so perhaps a job that would allow me to stay in the academic realm. Also, I always wanted to explore and preserve certain historical narratives such as those involving the art of war, conflict, genocide, and cultural destruction. Using art history, I’d like to raise awareness of the narratives of people and communities in the margins. I could see myself working for a non-profit organization or perhaps starting one.

Have you had any internship? Or interesting jobs or volunteer experience? Tell us about it/them.

I’ve had great opportunities interning and working in museums, galleries and libraries. However, my absolute favorite would have to be my experience at the Library of Congress. I interned for the European Division, where I helped catalog and annotate bibliographies for French Art Periodicals during the 18th-19th century. When I really think about the times I spent in the Library’s stacks I cannot help but feel as though it was an honor to hold old journals, books and newspapers. It made me see how people and communities are impermanent and ever-changing, and the importance of preserving them for future generations.

Any accomplishments you’re proud of? Opportunities you’ve taken advantage of? Brag a little!

I got accepted into the George Mason graduate program!

Tell us something people would be surprised to know about you.

When I was growing up I was terrified of old paintings, especially the portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and paintings like Holbein’s The French Ambassadors. Mona Lisa even made me cry once! Now I can’t stop looking at these paintings.

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