The inspiration to make art can come from anywhere. For Ava Mallett '17, it comes from traveling.
"I always think it's good to go out into the world and be inspired by new places and social structures," she said. "I'm totally in awe of the different lives people can live. For me, it gets a lot of creative juices flowing."
If Mallett didn’t have a Fine Arts degree, she'd probably be a travel agent. These last two years, she hasn't been in one spot for more than six months. She's become something of a travel expert, keeping her eye on foreign exchange rates and airline ticket prices to arrange inexpensive trips to places like Scotland and Germany.
A flurry of globetrotting began in March 2016, when Mallett went on a 21st birthday trip to Istanbul and Amsterdam, where the native of Austin, Texas, spent a week enjoying both cities and working on a book-making art project.
A few weeks later, during the summer of 2016, she went to Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan, County Clare, Ireland, on a Penny Fox Internship Fellowship.
"I was there to watch and learn how an art facility functions," she said. "I want to eventually start a shared studio space in a collaborative environment for artists to inhabit, so the Burren was a good model to look at."
BURREN’S FIRST INTERN
The small school, with six full-time employees including the president, had never had an intern before.
"It was a collaborative experience as to what my tasks would be," she said. Her main job was to document, through photos and videos, the experience of the students at the Burren. Mallett tagged along to take photos of the art students on their field trips to the Aran Islands, as well as dancing at an Irish social event known as a ceilidh. She also digitized and archived records, and helped out in the library over the six weeks.
"Because of my experience as a Curatorial Studies minor and the time I worked in The Galleries at Moore, they had me help with hanging the exhibition for the Burren Annual," she said.
The tiny town of 200 – "You know everyone's face by the third day" – presented some challenges.
"I went to go rent a bike for six weeks on my first day, and the shop owner didn't have a credit card machine, and I didn't have enough cash," she said. "He said, 'Oh, just take it and pay me next week.' I spent the whole day biking to Gort (30 miles away!) and getting groceries and enough money to pay for the bike."
Mallett said the town's "very communal atmosphere" could be unnerving.
"All the townspeople know the students because they see them walking along the road to go into town," she said. "They'll just pull over and offer you a ride. It was cool, but also weird. Everyone would report what I was doing. I'd go into work and they'd say, 'How was the omelet you ordered?'"
FINDING BEAUTY IN A FELLOWSHIP
Overall, Mallett found her fellowship experience to be wonderful and an inspiration for her wide-ranging art, which includes jewelry-making, sculpture and painting.
"My goals since being at the Burren are to continually get outside my comfort zone and experience new places and cultures," she said. Right now, Mallett is living in New York, rooming with Moore Interior Design alumna Jade Esplin '16. She's freelancing and working as a private art tutor, and already thinking about her next trip.
"I have my eyes set on Iceland, and I've been toying with the idea of moving to Southeast Asia," she said. "There are a few youth teaching programs you can do, and the nice thing is you get to have a nice apartment for yourself for a year located in a country you can travel around on the weekend."
See Ava Mallett's art here.