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Barton art student accepted into academy at Nelson Atkins Museum
Jada Whiterock

Sophomore art student Jada Whiterock is no slouch as an artist. She’s proficient in drawing and has become more skilled with other mediums throughout her journey through the Barton art department. While she knows she will always create art, her time at Barton has led her to discover her dream career focused on the conservation and curation of art and artifacts. 

“I loved taking Art History with (Barton ceramics instructor Bill) Forst and watching YouTube videos of conservators who are working with very special and famous pieces,” she said. “It’s very relaxing and satisfying. It’s crazy knowing that I could someday do that too.”

Whiterock was recently selected into the 2019 Curatorial Summer Academy coordinated by the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Only 15 students were selected to participate. 

Whiterock said she experienced a wide range of emotions when she learned she had been accepted. 

“I was scared and excited at the same time,” she said “This is a huge leap for me because I’ve always lived in a small town and I didn’t think I would get it. It didn’t seem real for a second. I actually asked the lady on the phone if it was real. I’m so excited and pumped for this summer. I can’t wait.”

Barton has been there to lead the way for Whiterock’s education for many years. 

“I was part of Upward Bound my freshman year. They helped me in high school career to get better grades, meet people and see different places on the summer trips we took and they’re still helping me. Patrick (Barton Central Kansas Upward Bound Director Patrick Busch) still keeps tabs on us and always reminds us of scholarships and deadlines.” 

Forst told Whiterock about the academy and said it’s been a joy to teach her and observe her growth as an artist and person. 

“Two years ago, Jada enrolled at Barton Community College and declared an art emphasis, and she was like most students who want to make a living in the arts; she was searching for a way to engage her creative skills and thoughtful mind,” he said. “Her art classes at Barton have sharpened her creative skills and have built upon her critical thinking skills and she has started to plot her future. This academy is an opportunity for her to glimpse what the future could be like for her in the world of art.”

Attendees will receive a stipend and rooming accommodations for what will be an immersive, curatorial experience in the museum, which will include individual and group projects, workshops, tours, discussions and more. Following the Summer Academy, participants are eligible to apply for a two-year fellowship in the museum.

Whiterock’s summer academy is part of an effort by the Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program that provides specialized training in the curatorial field for students across the United States. This initiative is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.