Interview with IPI intern, Caroline LeFevre

Caroline is the recipient of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant for Research and Training in Photographic Preservation and Conservation. This residency at IPI marks the beginning of a new direction for her, as her prior experience has been a mash-up of museum, gallery, and photography work. For the last several months, she has been deepening her research and writing skills and learning photographic characterization, digitization, and web content management while developing content for IPI’s Graphics Atlas web tool. She also volunteers at the Rochester Institute of Technology Archives.

Caroline LeFevreName:
Caroline LeFevre

Where were you born?
We barely made it to the hospital in Derby, CT, or so I’m told.

What was your professional training?
I graduated from Indiana University in 2008 with dual degrees in BA Art History and BFA Photography. My professional experiences include various art and education related internships, assistantships, and employment at several institutions such as the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the Indiana University School of Fine Arts, and the International Center of Photography.

What was your very first job?
My first job in high school was selling produce at a seasonal farmer’s market and greenhouse in northern Indiana. My first job after graduation took me to work for a man from Nantucket as a gallery assistant in the island’s largest art gallery.

What would your dream job be?
In my dreams, I would become the youngest, brightest, most important curator of photography or media arts without a PhD. Or an archivist at the MoMA or the Brooklyn Museum – I love their Visible Storage Study Center. 

When and how did you hear about IPI?
I’m told I was welcomed here based on the recommendation of a former professor, but I suspect it began more surreptitiously where somebody lost a bet or something of that nature.

Why does preservation matter to you?
I’m not a particularly nostalgic person, but I enjoy becoming immersed in the art of an unfamiliar culture or time period as a way to reframe my views of culture today and to anticipate the future.  The preservation of new media arts is a challenge facing archivists and curators in which I am becoming very interested. 

What is your favorite work of art or your favorite artist?
I love experimental and conceptual art based in photography and the media arts. I fully embrace the first electronic artists of the 60s and 70s like Nam June Paik and works that talk about implications of living in a technology-driven world and shifts in the definition, creation, diffusion, and consumption of art.

What other hobbies or significant interests do you have?
I am currently trying my hand as an entrepreneur with my online store that sells vintage clothing (http://www.etsy.com/shop/cabbageandquail). I also have significant interests in food, film, and fiction.

What book (or books) would you take with you to a desert island?
I would require a cookbook with recipes for living on a desert island, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster, and for rainy days, a book of jokes. And, of course, I couldn’t live without Jim Reilly’s Care and Identification of 19th Century Photographic Prints.

What is your most treasured possession?
If I had a dog, it would be my most prized possession. For now, my Sinar F 4x5 view camera will have to do.

What is your greatest indulgence?
“Window” shopping online is my biggest weakness.

What was the most surprising thing to you about IPI?
The sense of community and personal interest shared by all employees within this work environment is by far the most rewarding aspect of working at IPI.