Experiences outside of the classroom were important elements of success for Mattie Codling, an art history and anthropology major.
“Take the first chance you get to work in your field, even if it isn’t required for your degree,” she said. “Internships are great! Make use of what is available on campus because there is always somewhere to plug in.”
An internship at the University Museum inspired her favorite academic achievement, curating a museum exhibition of Southern folk art for her senior thesis. The Starkville native researched the artists, selected pieces illustrating their style, and designed How We Worked, Played, and Prayed to be educational and enjoyable for the viewer.
“The task proved instructive and gave me confidence in my ability as an art historian,” Codling said. “I gained skills in research, planning, and installation indispensable to my future career.”
Art history professor Nancy Wicker notes other skills Codling cultivated. “As faculty advisor of the Vasari Society, I worked with Mattie for the past two years as we sought to rejuvenate the art history student organization,” said Wicker. “As president of the group, she organized internal events and also took the initiative to bring an expert on stained glass to our university. She indefatigably sought sources of funds and worked with me to write an application for a Mississippi Humanities Council mini-grant, which we subsequently received.”
In addition to museum curation and grant writing, Codling experienced field work in anthropology. One summer she helped excavate the Carson Indian Burial Mounds near Clarksdale, a large site for the Mississippian group predating European contact.
All these experiences and work for her double major in art history and anthropology have equipped Codling for her next steps in life. “UM has prepared me for what I want to do outside of college by the complexity and level of excellence professors required of my work,” she said. “True, I didn’t enjoy reading theory, but it was all worth it in the end.”