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LA Story

Monday, November 30, 2009

by Donna Parker

Britt Salvesen, who received a double bachelor's degree in Spanish and art history from Trinity in 1989, has a new job and it's one she's been working toward her whole life - the culmination of years of hard work and one filled with a surprise or two. It was several years ago, while serving as chief curator for the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, that Britt toiled for months on a photographic exhibition.

"That same exhibition that I helped organize in Arizona is now on view here - and I arranged it long before I thought I'd come here," says Britt.

"Here" is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where Britt recently was appointed to the position of department head and curator of the Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography and curator of prints and drawings.

"I had worked on that exhibition in Arizona for easily three years before it came to fruition. It represents something tangible that represents my work in this new city. It's an exhibition about which I can speak confidently."

At Trinity, Britt was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, before going on to earn a master's degree from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Chicago. Immediately afterward, she worked for the Art Institute of Chicago, but it's her recent appointment that presents her greatest opportunity and challenge.

"People poke fun at art history majors, but for me, it's my passion. My museum job involves meeting with donors in Los Angeles. There are many private collectors out here and that is always a challenge. Los Angeles has an active philanthropic community, which is part of its culture. So, in addition to loving my daily activities as curator, there is quite a bit of social time working with these donors and attending receptions."

Britt says Trinity's comfortable atmosphere and access to professors set her course.

"My family had just moved to Dallas from Wisconsin when I was in high school and I wouldn't have known about Trinity otherwise. It turned out to be the perfect place for me with the small size and the tremendous input and help from my professors."

"My junior year abroad in Madrid was where I first discovered art history as a specialization. My internship at the McNay Art Museum was a wonderful resource. It helped this naïve student gain experience! Also, my professors such as John Hutton, Carolyn Valone, and Lisa Reitzes - all in the department of art and art history - were incredibly helpful," says Britt.

Britt, who spends her spare time cycling and hiking, is also taking piano lessons to balance out her creative side. She is settling in nicely in LA, having moved into a very pretty neighborhood in Silverlake where she enjoys the hillside views, small cafes, and farmer's markets.

"There's quite a lot to do on the weekends and in the evening. Los Angeles is turning out to be a real pleasure."