Junior Hannah Jeffries attends prestigious curatorial program

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Hannah Jeffries
Hannah Jeffries

The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection is home to the finest indigenous Australian art collections in the world.

The newest exhibition, “With Her Hands: Women’s Fiber Art from Gapuwiyak: The Louise Hamby Gift,” was curated by six undergraduate students across the country, including UNC Pembroke’s own Hannah Jeffries.

Jeffries, a junior American Indian Studies major, was selected as part of the Mellon Indigenous Arts Initiative to participate in an eight-week internship at the University of Virginia. The program is designed to train a new generation of curators from backgrounds underrepresented in the museum professions. Jeffries is a member of the Meherrin Tribe.

She described the experience as ‘life changing.’

“We learned the ins and outs of what it takes to put on an exhibition from the labels, the research of your objects, to how you want to set up the environment within the exhibition, the paint color, and down to every small detail,” she said.

“They taught us how to handle collections and how to preserve damaged objects. To be able to have this opportunity was amazing.”

She said it was an honor to work alongside Dr. Hanby, a world renown anthropologist on aboriginal fiber art. Jeffries and the other participants attended museum studies workshops and field trips to the Smithsonian and the Pamunkey Tribe Museum. She also got a chance to research Australian Indigenous fiber arts at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection.

The internship ended with Jeffries attending a four-day Leadership Alliance National Research Conference in Connecticut. At UNCP, Jeffries is engaged on campus, serving as president of the Native American Student Organization and a member of the Native Foodways Cooking Club. She is also padding her resume with scholarly activities off campus.  

Last week, she was among the presenters at the 2019 International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums in Temecula, Calif. She gave a lecture on the methodologies of documenting family genealogy and tribal history.

During the conference, Jeffries was able to network with scholars and researchers whom she aspires to one day call colleagues.

“Hundreds of Indigenous people, representing many different nations, all in one place sharing ideas collectively towards a greater goal. It was beautiful! This experience gave me the confidence in my ability to be competitive for graduate school, and reassurance excelling in my studies here at UNCP.”

After graduation, Jeffries hopes to land a job with the NC State Archives and Libraries Office as a liaison in the tribal communities across the state.