Interview with Jennifer Pryor '05
Gallery Director for William Reaves Fine Art Gallery in Houston, Texas
When did you first recognize that you have a passion/talent for art?
I first knew I wanted to work in the art world in some capacity on a U of R Interim trip (when Mayterm was in January!) to London. My class spent the month exploring the museums in and around London, and a Mayterm in Salzburg, when my friends and I took weekend trips to Venice, Florence, and Rome and saw some of the world's most amazing art.
I was drawn in by the history and the beauty I saw in the museums and architecture, energized by the parallels that could be drawn from my knowledge and experiences to what I saw around me, and, all in all, simply enamored with the possibility that I could someday have a career working with art, and that I could help other people appreciate art as I do.
Why did you decide to attend the U of R?
I went to a small, all-girls Catholic high school. I enjoyed being part of a small student body and decided to carry that through to my college experience. I'm so glad I did!
Because of the small student body size, I was able to be involved in many of the extracurricular activities Redlands has to offer: community service clubs (Yeomen), music (University Choir), residence life (resident adviser and resident coordinator in Fairmont Hall), Greek life (Alpha Sigma Pi), academic organizations (Business Department Student Advisory Board) and I was able to create meaningful relationships with my peers and professors.
Why did you decide to major in both business and art?
I knew I wanted to work in the art world, and was drawn to art history.
I took an intro to business class as one of my Liberal Arts Foundation courses, and found I was interested the business curriculum as well. Studying art and business are so different from each other, but I felt they were great compliments. I had some upperclassman friends that were business majors and saw how much fun they had with their projects, how much creativity was involved in the business program, and so I decided I'd balance out my interest in art history with business administration.
Have you been able to use both of your degrees in your position as Assistant Gallery Director for William Reaves Fine Art?
(I was recently promoted to Gallery Director.)
I use my degrees in art and business every day!
For example, in order to curate a show I have to be able to formulate a thesis that describes the exhibition, write a catalogue conveying the idea to our clients, and hang the show in the gallery in a cohesive way.
I use my understanding of business to find patterns in our sales data, project the popularity of a given work of art on the market, come up with new ways to market the gallery, and negotiate with buyers.
What is one thing that you learned in the “real world” that you can give as advice to current college students?
I would advise undergraduate students to study what they love, not necessarily what they think their career path will be or should be.
I studied what I loved, and a career took shape. Conversely, your major doesn't necessarily dictate what your career will be. Undergraduate is a time to develop your interests and talents and begin understanding the world around you.
Was there a particular professor who inspired you or pushed you to succeed?
Jack Osborn. Jack is a fantastic business professor.
I heard about him before I even took his class. Rumor was that he was tough, and he lived up to the hype! He's famous for asking pointed questions, the answers to which require not only doing the reading, but a level of sophisticated comprehension not usually expected for undergraduates.
I took it as a challenge. As a result of trying to meet Jack's standards, I worked hard and gained a greater understanding of strategy, international business, and the history of American capitalism, and an appreciation for high expectations.
What is a fun memory you have from the U of R?
I had the best time being in Alpha Sigma Pi. In the Sigmas I found a group of girls who were genuine, intelligent, and most of all, fun! Even though I graduated seven years ago and we've scattered across the country, the ladies I met through the sorority are still my best friends.
Any memorable projects that you worked on during your time here?
My business capstone project was a major undertaking. We were assigned companies to write our projects on. I was assigned Sotheby's Auction House. I later had an internship at Sotheby's in London, and I think having written my project on the company helped in getting the internship!