Melissa Duffy '20

Artist and Appreciator

When Melissa started at Emmanuel, she chose what she believed to be two separate and distinct majors—studio art and history—to fulfill her both her personal and professional interests.

“I attended an accepted student day and sat in on [Associate Professor of History] Dr. Jeffrey Fortin’s seminar on ‘Pirates, Rascals and Scoundrels,’” she said. “I walked out thinking, ‘This is awesome. Their curriculum has so much color and provoked so much curiosity in one short class.’”

While initially set on going to a large school, Melissa was drawn to the option of cross-registering for courses within the Colleges of the Fenway.

“The amount of courses to pick from really exceeded my expectations,” she said. “I am getting the academic variety that any giant school could provide or potentially even better. I’ve had the opportunity to pursue a degree at Emmanuel and attend courses at one of the top art schools in the country. That opportunity was unmatched.”

After diving into her courses, she soon realized the two disciplines go hand-in-hand. "Now, that's not how I see it at all," she said. "My art and history majors are complementary in every aspect. It's nearly impossible to separate the two."  

In her courses with Professor of Art Cynthia Fowler, she was always encouraged to consider the historical context of the art in question. Her Historical Methods and Research course with Associate Professor of History Javier Marion, while challenging, made her a better researcher and gave her a new appreciation for a historian's work.  

“In the course I completed an untraditional book review on Jill Lepore's The Name of War,” she said.I created a primary source narrative on the town of Natick and its connections to the 54th Massachusetts Infantry during the Civil War. My big project was a historiography on the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II. After I completed this course I knew that history and research would be something I could do for a career and always be happy.”

During her senior year, Melissa combined her love of art and history, and served as a Rights and Permissions Research Intern in the Intellectual Property Department at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA), where she conducted research and communicated with outside sources to ensure the Museum could reproduce images of artists' work without copyright infringement.  

"Whether it is a thumbnail on the website or a 50-foot poster on Huntington Avenue, it needs to be licensed in the proper manner to follow the Museum's mission statement," she said. "One of my favorite parts of the internship was reaching out to artists I had learned about in class. I loved contributing to the Museum's mission statement to conserve and celebrate history and art. It made my work very meaningful."  

The internship at the MFA—and another at the Marblehead Historical Commission—gave Melissa a clear career path after graduation-she intends to attend graduate school for archival management or information and library sciences.  

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