An Intern at SyArt Gallery in Sorrento
Vespas purr on the street outside. Suitcases rattle along the cobblestone sidewalk, dragged along by disoriented tourists looking for their hotel or the train station. Voices drift inside through the art gallery’s open glass door, speaking English, Italian, and Chinese, as the hot Italian summer settles over Sorrento. A white awning hangs above the door, keeping the sun from reaching the welcome mat.
SyArt is not a large gallery. In fact, it is quite small with only two stories and two narrow white-walled rooms. The hanging art features faces, abstract scenes, and landscapes with colors as vibrant as the produce in an Italian street market. Simply standing inside the space inspires creativity. At a glass desk near the front entrance, Nancy Lucier sits with her laptop in a blue Italian-bought dress. She is strategizing SyArt’s next marketing move.
Nancy grew up outside of Boston with her parents, twin brother, and younger brother and sister. She attends St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, where she pursues a double major in business and global studies. She doesn’t have a 10-year plan. Instead, Nancy prefers to do what she loves, and see where it takes her. The desire for a career in marketing provides general direction, and her love for family, art, and travel provides the rest.
For as long as she can remember, Nancy’s enjoyed art. She grew up visiting the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and went to nearly every museum and gallery she could while studying abroad in Vienna last semester. Last summer, she traveled to Naples, Italy for a two-week art history class. It was during that trip when she discovered Sant’Anna Institute in nearby Sorrento. Now, sitting at a desk with her supervisor-turned-friend Rossella, at her internship through Sant’Anna, in an art gallery in the Mediterranean-coast town of Sorrento, Nancy’s long-held belief rings true that in life, everything happens for a reason.
This May, Nancy began a 5-week internship at the only contemporary art gallery in Sorrento: SyArt. Using her training and business studies, she has pitched marketing plans, created videos and social media content, prepared and organized exhibitions and gallery tours, developed newsletters for existing clients, and pioneered a new customer base for SyArt through Invaluable, an online U.S.-based global art market place. The skills Nancy has developed, she is certain, will empower her in her future career. But it is the intangibles, the relationships, personal growth, and healthy work environment, that seem to have left the most profound impression.
Sketching the Experience
You’re part of the family now. This is what Nancy’s boss, Rossella Savarese, said to her during the very first week on the job. Spending an afternoon in the gallery, one can see that it’s true. Every weekday afternoon, Nancy returns from her Italian language class at Sant’Anna to a welcoming smile from Rossella and, “What did you learn today?” Through this internship, Nancy’s first, she is learning to take initiative in projects. Reaching the customer base on the Invaluable art app was her idea, and she developed and pitched the marketing plan that the owners, Rossella and Leone, founder of SyArt, are now using. Nancy is aware that this experience is unique, and that her internship is something special. Through Sant’Anna’s placement at SyArt, Nancy has the opportunity to develop the skills and confidence to enjoy a fruitful career.
Trust is a critical ingredient in any relationship, personal or professional. The trust Rossella and Leone place in Nancy amazes her, to the point that this topic arises in every conversation about her internship at SyArt. Nancy handles art valued at 6,000€ on a daily basis. She single-handedly organizes and runs the social media accounts. When she pitched the idea about Invaluable, they didn’t brush her off. Instead, they encouraged her and have continued the conversation with the U.S.-based company. Trust, of course, must be earned. But the rewards are well worth the effort. “I definitely feel more confident in my own opinions and ideas,” Nancy says.
SyArt and SyArt Sorrento Festival
Sorrento native Rossella has 15 years of experience as an art critic, and she previously had galleries in both Positano and Milan. Rossella opened SyArt with Leone Cappiello last year. The only contemporary art gallery in Sorrento, the project has been a dream come true for Rossella. “It is very important to share contemporary art with young people,” Rossella says. Because the artists live in our time period, the social and political conversations they create through their art, Rossella says, will speak to the next generation. Inspiration in all its colors.
This passion to see young people involved in the art is reflected each year in the SyArt Sorrento Festival. A community effort, students from local art school Liceo Francesco Grandi designed and formatted the event booklet, while students from Liceo Salvemini Sorrento worked as guides at the exhibition. Held in the historic Villa Fiorentino, this year’s festival featured 42 contemporary artists from 11 countries, and 150 carefully selected pieces of artwork. The event reflects “our dream to share here (in Sorrento) contemporary art,” Rossella says.
SyArt and Sant’Anna
Nancy is the fourth intern SyArt has welcomed from Sant’Anna. “And the best?” Nancy asks, laughing. Rossella laughs and refuses to answer. Through Sant’Anna’s partnership with Jacksonville University, students are able to pursue internships in a variety of fields for U.S. credits towards their degrees. The work is hands-on, carefully selected by Emily Hammeren, internship coordinator at Sant’Anna Institute.
“Because we work with small scale organizations, the interns get to have responsibility maybe that they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to in a larger organization,” Emily said. “We’ve had advertising students, students that study Italian, marketing, communications, and they get to work directly with the gallery managers doing projects and being able to share and implement ideas that really make a difference to the gallery.”
Interns learn to welcome people despite language barriers, the importance of organization and teamwork, and all the beautiful chaos that occurs in the background of an art gallery. Students offer the business social media literacy, along with first-hand contact with the U.S. audience. Despite years of experience in the art field, Rossella says, she does not have experience in social media, and she recognizes its importance. This need gives the intern the opportunity to pursue excellence without constant restraint. Fresh ideas are taken seriously.
The Last Stroke
In the gallery, beneath the photo of Marilyn Monroe, the abstract metal sculptures, and the occasional Andy Warhol, Nancy prepares to leave Sorrento for Boston. She’s ready to go home, she says. Just two weeks before arriving in Sorrento, Nancy completed a semester-long study abroad program in Vienna. She’s lived abroad for nearly six months.
Nevertheless, Nancy will miss Rossella, Leone and his wife Rosaria, and the SyArt gallery. They have indeed become like family to her. She knows that the independence and encouragement she has enjoyed here may not follow her to an internship in the States. The Italian gusto for life, food, and beaches, still resonates with her. She will miss the local restaurant where she has enjoyed the “best pasta I’ve ever eaten in my life.” Despite challenges, Nancy has grown through the obstacles and emerged with valuable skills, new friends, and a greater understanding of what she would like to pursue in the future.