Bronco Spotlight: Leah Barry

Bachelor of Arts, student integrated curriculum - fine art, 2014

Current Job Title:

Art History Research Assistant

Current Employer:

Jacob Fine Art, Inc.

Describe your current job:

Currently, I assist on many different fine art research projects.  We perform provenance research, pre-purchase due diligence, advisory services, authentication facilitation and valuation services.  I do extensive research both online and in libraries, working with various librarians to obtain information not readily available online.  For valuation projects, I write descriptions of each work of art as well as biographies for every artist in a client's collection.

What is the most rewarding and the most challenging part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is finding the linchpin bit of information, the last little bit needed to close a project.  It is very satisfying when all of your work comes together in supporting your initial feeling, or proves you wrong!  The most challenging part is the time spent looking for that important nugget! I spend hours, days, sometimes weeks looking through books, or reels of microfilm trying to find just a sentence that has to do with what I am searching for!

Which of your skills had the biggest impact on your success?

My independent streak had the biggest impact! I chose to not follow the traditional degree plans, but rather pursue both studio art and art history in a combined degree.  Now that I have extensive knowledge of materials, as well as the historical context, I am a very well informed researcher.  I did not do an internship, and I am waiting to go to graduate school until I have some more experience, however I feel that carving my own path led me to this unique and rewarding career.

What advice do you have for students looking for their first career after college?

Be steadfast and persistent, get your foot in the door any way you can.  I started out as a part time web designer for my company, and constantly pestered my boss with writing samples from college to try and get my foot in the art historical door.  Eventually, she hired me on as an administrative assistant, and I have worked my way up even since then.  Just because you have a degree does not entitle or exempt you from starting low.  Keep your head down, work hard and persevere.  If you are passionate and work hard, you can do anything!

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