Meet Laura Vautour
Photo Credit: Bryn's Photography
Laura Vautour is a fourth year University of Guelph student, completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art. Laura enrolled in an Experiential Learning course this summer in which she worked at The Gathered Gallery, a blog run by two U of G graduates, that supports emerging artists. Laura notes that this experiential learning course provided her with the “opportunity to be fully immersed in an online environment where artists and their professional development are enthusiastically championed.” Throughout the experience, she was able to improve her skills in writing, communications, and website development, and was given the confidence and encouragement to build upon her artistic practice, and invest in a studio at Necessary Arts, a collective space in downtown Guelph run by U of G graduate, Chanel DesRoches.
Tell us about The Gathered Gallery and how you were involved with them during your Experiential Learning course.
“The Gathered Gallery is an online community that helps artists succeed and is run by two University of Guelph Studio Art graduates. This summer, I enrolled in experiential learning and worked closely with Natalie and Emily, the creators of The Gathered Gallery. They provided encouragement and professional mentorship. My role was to write articles about contemporary artists and their artwork. I also learned the ins and outs of how to run a website and manage a social media following.”
How was your work with The Gathered Gallery relevant to your chosen career path?
“I am still deciding my career path, and experiences like this help narrow the options. Throughout my time with Natalie and Emily, I realized I love project-based tasks. Finding out that I enjoy and do well in this type of work is incredibly beneficial when deciding future career paths.”
How did this experience help you in understanding how your chosen field operates or will operate, under the influence of COVID-19?
“I think that this experience has made online employment opportunities more visible and accessible. With COVID-19 and artists working virtually, this course emphasized how important it is to maintain community during times of crisis.”
What are you doing now? How did your Experiential Learning course help lead you to this?
“At the beginning of the pandemic, I chose to rent out space at Necessary Arts, a collective studio downtown Guelph. I met Natalie and Emily during this transition and felt intimidated and underqualified to have this space. Both the Gathered Gallery and Chanel DesRoches, owner of Necessary Arts and a recent U of G Studio Art graduate, encouraged me to be confident and own where I am at in my creative practice. This space has made my work visible, provided me with clients, and brought additional work-related opportunities. I am incredibly grateful to be part of the Necessary Arts Collective.”
How did you find out about the experiential learning opportunity with The Gathered Gallery? What advice would you give to students looking for an experiential learning opportunity in their field?
“I learned about this course through a peer, Paige Bromby, a recent U of G Studio Art graduate. The advice I would share with students is to search out opportunities that interest you. Take the initiative to inquire if an experiential learning class could be an option. Research the organization or business. See if they have done something similar in the past. This information will serve you better when determining the logistics of the relationship. If the organization has not and you are still interested, I would encourage students to be curious and bold. The arts community is generally welcoming and helpful. If you show that you are hardworking and eager to learn, people are receptive to that.”
How did you curate your experience with The Gathered Gallery?
“This experiential learning course was the second time Natalie and Emily connected with students in this way. They proposed several tasks, and I expressed that I enjoyed writing articles and analyzing artists' work. They both were responsive to this desire and made writing a priority in my task list. I also found the communications and administrative work beneficial.”
Would you recommend Experiential Learning to other U of G students?
“I would highly recommend experiential learning to University of Guelph students. It is so advantageous to get a glimpse of what a career path looks like before graduation. I think pursuing a variety of experiences during your undergraduate degree will expand your skillset and assist you with future career choices.”
What would your advice be to current undergraduate students?
“I would say get involved on campus. It may seem intimidating at first to join a club, but this is where your creative practice will thrive. Join the Fine Arts Network or Kaleidoscope Magazine or find a club that intrigues you! Putting yourself out there with extracurricular involvement helps you determine what you are good at and places you in an environment for optimal growth.”