Laura Bergin ’17 had never curated an art exhibition in her life. In fact, she wasn’t even an art history major. Yet that didn’t stop her from proposing and then curating a powerful exhibition on conflict over the course of 10 weeks as an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Summer Scholar.
“Bodies in Conflict: From Gettysburg to Iraq,” features photographs, scrapbooks, lithographs, and posters from the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, and the War in Iraq. It is on display until Oct. 22 in Schmucker Art Gallery.
Bergin always held an interest in photojournalism, art, and museums. But coming to Gettysburg, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to study.
“I heard about the option to design my own major and thought that was a great possibility for me,” said Bergin. In her sophomore year she was approved through the Interdisciplinary Studies program for a self-designed major called “Images of Conflict.” Her major combines classes in journalism; Cinema & Media Studies; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Globalization Studies; Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies; and Anthropology.
“Through that process I learned to think critically about what I’m truly passionate about and to understand that passion from different perspectives,” said Bergin. “I believe this has made me a much more open-minded person, as I bridge disciplines with differing methodologies and theories each day.”
The exhibition was inspired by a course she took with her advisor, Prof. Amy Evrard, during the fall of her junior year about the anthropology of violence and conflict. That same semester, after a class with Art & Art History Prof. Shannon Egan, director of the Schmucker Art Gallery, Bergin asked if she could create something in the gallery around the topic of conflict.
With Egan’s guidance, she applied for the Mellon Summer Scholarship while studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain. Over the summer, Egan served as Bergin’s faculty mentor for the project.
“I learned an extraordinary amount this past summer in a short time period,” said Bergin. “Prof. Egan constantly pushed me to better myself as a researcher and a scholar. She has been an amazing mentor to me.”