Last year, Michigan State University alumna Katrina Daniels was named the Exhibitions and Gallery Sales Director for the Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center. Daniels has two bachelor’s degrees from MSU, one in Interior Design (2005) and the other in Art History (2008). Daniels is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Peppermint Creek Theatre Co. and the Junior League of Lansing as the VP of Community.
What are the responsibilities of your current position?
My responsibilities vary, but my overarching role is to coordinate every aspect of our rotating exhibitions and our public art programming. I also oversee our retail gallery that showcases more than 100 Michigan artists.
How has your degree helped with your career success?
Having graduated with degrees in Interior Design and Art History helped me tremendously as I navigated the job field after college. In my current role where I work with, organize and execute exhibitions, for example, my knowledge of Interior Design and Art History have proven to be excellent skill sets in regards to laying out an exhibit and communicating the concept and story to the public.
Both of my study abroad programs were incredible learning experiences for me as I was taken out of my comfort zone, and I had an opportunity to experience another culture in an immersive way.
Did you have any internships or study abroad programs that influenced your career and/or life?
I took advantage of the opportunity to study abroad at MSU two times. During my first B.A., I traveled to France, Germany, and Belgium for the Interior Design and Architecture in Europe program. During my second B.A., I traveled to South Africa for the Expressive Arts, Cultural Heritage, and Museum Studies program. Both of my study abroad programs were incredible learning experiences for me as I was taken out of my comfort zone, and I had an opportunity to experience another culture in an immersive way. Traveling to South Africa was incredible! That Study Abroad changed my life and my career trajectory. My trip to South Africa was the first time that I saw art being used as a tool for healing, celebration, and advocacy — this experience defined the direction that I wanted my career to go and has driven me to pursue a career in the nonprofit art sector.
Did you have any mentors at MSU, and how have they helped you in your career?
I had several wonderful professors at MSU who supported my academic career in class and through additional opportunities. Three professors that were integral to my success at MSU and beyond are Phylis Floyd, Marsha MacDowell, and Kurt Dewhurst. Each of these individuals saw an interest and drive in me as a student and offered me additional opportunities such as sitting on the Board of Directors of MSU as an undergrad or participating on a professorial hiring committee.
What should MSU students be prepared for following graduation?
Students should be prepared to be flexible and willing to take on a variety of opportunities, both traditional and nontraditional, while building a career. Working in the creative sector in particular can be challenging and many creatives piece together multiple opportunities to make a living. There are many ways to stay involved in the sector that you want to be in even if a full-time job isn’t available immediately, such as joining a committee, getting on a Board of Directors, volunteering, or doing freelance work as well.
What should current students take advantage of on campus?
Being on campus is a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of all that a large university has to offer such as lectures, exhibitions, academic clubs, and groups, etc.
What advice do you have for current students?
Enjoy your time in school! It may seem challenging and frustrating at times, but it is also one of the best times of your life and many people want to go back to school after they graduate.