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Summer Interns


Vrinda Agrawal

Vrinda Agrawal

Curatorial Fellow

Vrinda worked with Debra Diamond, associate curator of South and Southeast Asian art, taking on the daunting task of cataloguing the Indian paintings from the Freer and Sackler collections. She was responsible for populating a refined system of data organization based on courts, schools, and regions of origin, using information embedded within the collections management system, TMS, and researched individual works. Her efforts will help future scholars study the Freer|Sackler collections of South and Southeast Asian art.

Vrinda graduated in May 2011 from the Art Institute of Chicago with a BFA in creative writing. Along with literature, she spent much of her college career studying art history, particularly Indian art and Impressionism. In fall 2009 and spring 2011, Vrinda interned as a research assistant to Debra Mancoff, a faculty member at the Art Institute of Chicago.

In fall 2011, Vrinda returned to her hometown of Chandigarh, India. There, she hopes to document and preserve uncatalogued Indian art so that her cultural heritage may be shared with future generations.


Sarah Johnson

Sarah Johnson

Curatorial Intern

This summer at the Freer and Sackler, Sarah worked under Alexander Nagel, assistant curator of ancient Near Eastern art. Sarah helped Alex with the exhibition Ancient Iranian Ceramics, which opened in July. In addition, Sarah researched Sasanian metalwork and the history of its collectors worldwide, and compiled a database of auction catalogues of Sasanian art from the 1930s to the present. She found that many early Russian collections shaped modern trends in collecting Sasanian art.

Sarah earned a BA in art and archaeology from Princeton University in spring 2010. Her studies focused on a variety of art historical traditions including ancient Near Eastern art, art of the Islamic world, American art, and eighteenth-century European art. Following graduation, Sarah spent the summer in Syria, where she was a part of an archaeological excavation at the northern site of Balis.

In the future, Sarah would like to learn more about the interactions between the Islamic world and its eastern neighbors. She hopes to continue her studies in graduate school and eventually pursue a curatorial career.


Courtney Lesoon

Courtney Lesoon

Intern, Scholarly Programs and Publications

Courtney worked with Nancy Micklewright, head of scholarly programs and publications at the Freer and Sackler. Courtney carried out a variety of tasks, including reference-checking volume 41 of Ars Orientalis, the museums’ scholarly journal of Asian art history. Other duties included researching web resources for museum professionals, developing written content for the F|S website, and assisting with the planning and implementation of scholarly symposia.

Courtney will graduate from College of the Holy Cross in spring 2012 with a BA in art history and an emphasis on the arts of the Islamic world. Before arriving at the Freer and Sackler, Courtney worked in a contemporary art gallery (2009) and initiated her own art education project for elementary and middle school students (2010).

In fall 2011, Courtney will begin research for her senior capstone essay. She hopes that her final project will center on a piece from the F|S collections of arts of the Islamic world. Courtney intends to pursue graduate studies in the history of art, specifically of Iran.


Zeynep Simavi

Zeynep Simavi

Curatorial Intern

Zeynep split her time over the summer between interning at the Freer and Sackler and at the Textile Museum. At the Freer and Sackler, Zeynep assisted Massumeh Farhad, chief curator and curator of Islamic art, and Carol Huh, assistant curator of contemporary art, in various research projects concerning contemporary Iranian and Turkish artists.

Zeynep earned her BA in English literature from Bogazici University in Istanbul in 2003, and went on to earn an MS in media and cultural studies at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara in 2006. In her home country of Turkey, Zeynep worked as a research assistant in the English Department of Yeditepe University, Istanbul, and taught college-level Western literature and criticism courses. In August 2011, Zeynep earned her MA in art and museum studies from Georgetown University. As a part of her academic program at Georgetown, Zeynep interned at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC (fall 2010), and studied at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London (spring 2011). Zeynep is currently pursuing her PhD in art history from Istanbul Technical University.

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