Student Story

Discovering Purpose and Community through Art, Service, and Song

Calla Savelson '24

“Simmons has provided me with [many] experiences and I am beyond grateful for the opportunities to better myself and for the connections I have made along the way.”

An interview with Simmons senior Calla Savelson ’24.

What are the most impactful things you have done over the last four years?

During my time at Simmons, I have been a part of both The Trustman Art Gallery (under the auspices of the Art and Music Department) and the early education organization known as Jumpstart (through the The Stephen D. London Center for Community Engagement and Social Justice). These experiences have been crucial for me to gain professional experience and build a community for myself. As a Gallery and Curatorial Fellow with The Trustman, I have learned what it means to be an arts administrator and have been lucky enough to work alongside amazing artists, students, and faculty. As a Jumpstart Corps Member for three years, I helped implement curriculum and assisted preschool teachers to prepare underserved students. In this role, I have served about 900 hours and learned about the Boston community’s values and needs. Simmons has provided me with both of these experiences and I am beyond grateful for the opportunities to better myself and for the connections I have made along the way.

What motivated you to be an Arts Administration major?

I came to Simmons undeclared but with an interest in Arts Administration. In my first semester, I took the introductory Arts Administration class, “Boston Arts in Action” (AADM 143), with Associate Professor of Art Heather Hole. Through this course, I learned how art organizations work and who runs them. This class sparked my interest in the benefits, problems, and needs of the art world.

Did your course of study entail any internships?

During the summer of 2023, I was an Arts Administration intern with the Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston. During this internship I developed a deeper knowledge of the operations that undergird arts institutions, as well as grant writing, board relationships, donor support, and the social impact of art organizations in Boston.

What kind of research did you pursue at Simmons?

For my AADM 390 Capstone class, I used my community engagement position with Jumpstart as my internship requirement for the 8-credit course. My independent study/project during my final semester was an Art in the Classroom Guide that details the importance of expressing creativity in preschool. This guide is based on research that I conducted on why process-based art is important for early childhood education. Once finalized, the guide will be distributed to Jumpstart’s preschool partners in Jamaica Plain.

What was your favorite course at Simmons and why?

One of my favorite courses that I have taken at Simmons was “Museum Studies” with Professor Heather Hole. This class dove into the complexities of museum culture, situating it globally and outlining how capitalism and colonialism underpin museums in the United States. Professor Hole effectively conveys why arts administration is so important. She also teaches us how to analyze the current systems through a more critical lens and encourages us to contemplate the ways we can change the art world to render it more accessible.

Who was your most inspirational professor or mentor at Simmons and why?

I found Assistant Teaching Professor Helen Popinchalk to be profoundly inspirational. I have been able to work with her in both a class setting and as a fellow at the Trustman Art Gallery, and I am grateful for her mentorship. She offers much guidance on how to be an intentional arts administrator, and I will always cherish her kindness and support.

Professor Popinchalk has also been a beacon of emotional support. When the news broke that Simmons was cutting the Art Department, she was there as someone with whom students could talk.

What is your favorite Simmons memory?

Many of my favorite memories at Simmons have happened with The Sirens, a Colleges of the Fenway a Capella group that I joined during my first semester at Simmons. Being a member of such a wonderful and talented group of people who all share a love of singing has been so impactful during my time at Simmons. Go stream our new extended play album, “Unusual Suspects,” on all platforms as The Sirens!!

How has Simmons taught you to be a leader?

My work with both the Trustman Art Gallery and Jumpstart has taught me to lead. I have learned what it means to be an active, dedicated employee and how important teamwork is when it comes to working on projects and exhibitions.

What advice do you have for current and incoming Simmons students?

I advise people to get involved with organizations and groups on and off campus. There are so many cool groups and opportunities to be a part of and I have made most of my friends and best memories through them. I also want to shout out the fourth floor of MCB (Main College Building)! If you aren’t an art student, you’re not going to spend much time up there and may not even know that the Trustman Art Gallery exists… it does, and it’s amazing! Go check it out and view the wonderful works by both student artists and visiting artists.

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Kathryn Dickason