Michelle Smiley '12


High School: Mechanicsburg Area Senior High

Hometown: Mechanicsburg, PA

Major: History of Art

Activities: Mawter Entertainment Art Director, College News contributor, tennis

Interests: Painting, museums, visual culture

Internship: Research Assistant at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

I was honored to have the opportunity to participate in an internship at the National Portrait Gallery this summer. I worked with cultural historian Amy Henderson in continuing her research on the topic of Hollywood glamour as it reigned in the studio era from the mid 1910s through the 1940s. The process was extrememly independent and self-designed as Ms. Henderson gave myself and three other interns the first week to familiarize ourselves with the topic before allowing us to pick a topic of our own choosing relating to the wider theme of glamour in Hollywood. Ms. Henderson's project asks the question: how does the image and construction of glamour in the Hollywood studio system relate to the American Dream? I worked on a topic relating to Hollywood studio photography, how that aided in the creation of the stars' images, the emergence of a new media-generated culture, how the fans interacted with these photographs, and how the specific look of these images painted a specific picture of a constructed goal of the American Dream. I also looked at how the typical movie fan was gendered as female and how women in films could take on dominant roles usually reserved for men off-screen. Much of my time was spent in the Library of Congress looking through primary sources like Photoplay and Motion Picture Magazine. I very much enjoyed the freedom given to me as an intern at the Portrait Gallery, allowing me to be creative and take a look at the Hollywood Studio System in a more thoughtful and serious way than it has in the past. I gained a confidence and creativeness in my own ideas through this project and it has inspired me to continue and expand my studies in the history of art as well as American visual culture.

Download Internship Presentation