Meredith Richardson is a senior at UNCG, pursuing a double major in Women and Gender Studies and Studio Art with a concentration in painting.
For the 2014-2015 school year, she received a Globally Engaged research grant through UNCG’s Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creativity Office (URSCO). During the fall of 2015, Richardson worked under Mariam Stephan as an apprentice for her independent study course. Mariam Stephan had recently [2010-2011] received a Fulbright Award to go to Egypt and showcase her work.
While being an apprentice during the fall semester, Richardson learned what it was like to be behind the scenes of an artist. She learned how to write grants, apply for residences, and make mock models of what her [Mariam] gallery space would look like in Egypt with different designs and layouts to best showcase the art.
“It was a lot of paperwork, [such as] learning how to write press releases,” she said. “But I also learned how to package and ship paintings and framed artwork so that it doesn’t break in the process.”
She would go to Stephan’s studio to work one-on-one with her several times a week and learned what artists had to do to make artwork and receive funding, contact different people and allow Stephan to finish her own art work. The trip to Europe was an extension of Richardson’s apprenticeship and being an assistant to Stephan during this time.
This past December and January, she traveled to Cairo, Egypt with Stephan and her husband, using the grant money she had received the year before.
“When we were there, I learned what to do if paintings chipped while moving and I learned how to curate a show with a completely Egyptian installation team,” Richardson said.
While there, she helped Stephan when it came to handing out fliers, speaking to the U.S. Embassy and spreading awareness of the gallery that was going to be showcased at the Gezira Art Center in Zamalek along with three other exhibitions.
“I was able to see how she went about communicating with the museum staff,” Richardson said. “I learned what to do and how to handle artwork in an international setting and was able to watch her during interviews.”
Richardson stayed in Egypt from Dec. 26 to Jan. 8. Though she went to accompany Stephan, she was able to also travel and visit historical sights in Egypt.
“I was able to visit the pyramids, see the Sphinx, go to museums and I was able to see the differences between how locals and tourists lived,” Richardson explained. “Stephan’s husband is Egyptian and we visited with his family in Egyptian neighborhoods away from tourist destinations.”
They also visited the oldest synagogue, mosque and church in Old Cairo. She was also able to go inside the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Now that she is the back in the U.S., she is working on artwork so she can have her own solo show at the end of the semester as the completion for all of the research she has been doing under Stephan.
One of the main things that inspired Richardson while she was there was that the inside of the museums she visited were pristine with beautiful floor-to-ceiling tile work with bright colors accompanying the layout. She felt as though those details were hard to notice when juxtaposed with the sandy architecture outside and considered these places to be hidden gems.
“Right now a lot of the artwork I’m doing are little snapshots of what I felt were hidden gem-esque things,” Richardson explained. “I’ve drawn many of my favorite things and I’ve noticed that a lot of my artwork revolves around doorways and windows leading into different areas.”
On March 29, during the Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo, Richardson will give a talk about her apprenticeship, independent study, trip to Egypt and her artwork since then.