SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College senior MacKenna Smith is planning a takeover. It happens the week of May 4, and everyone is invited to join her.

Smith, an art history and chemistry major from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, will take over the Johnson Collection gallery’s social media account beginning Monday, May 4, to share her senior capstone project – a week of educational, interactive digital programming in support of the exhibition “Care Through Conservation: Behind the Scenes at the Johnson Collection.” Smith, who curated the exhibition as an intern with TJC, will offer a behind-the-scenes perspective on the process of conserving and restoring paintings.

On Friday, May 8, the takeover culminates in the opening of a digital exhibition via Smith will host a virtual gallery talk and live question-and-answer session at 6 p.m. that day via TJC’s Instagram account, @thejohnsoncollection.

Smith entered TJC’s competitive internship program with a passion for art conservation and restoration. This spring, she has conducted research in TJC’s office, worked directly with conservator Colin Post to care for paintings in the collection and created a digital exhibition initiative remotely from her hometown.

“I’ve really enjoyed shadowing Colin as well as getting to know all of the conservation work that has gone on at TJC,” Smith says. “A lot of effort has been put into making sure all of the art is very well taken care of. It’s been interesting getting to know TJC from the perspective of conservation and learning each piece’s unique story.”

Originally, Smith had planned for her capstone project to be an exhibition hung at TJC’s gallery in downtown Spartanburg, with her providing an in-person gallery talk during the week. “Because of the coronavirus, it was decided that the best way to proceed was to create a virtual exhibition, live-stream a gallery talk and get the public excited for the show using a social media takeover,” says Smith.

“While I was disappointed that my experience would not be exactly how I envisioned it, this process has taught me a great deal about how to communicate virtually and engage an audience with art although they are not viewing it in person,” she adds.

Smith has been interning at TJC for her project for a class with Dr. Karen Goodchild, Chapman Family Professor of Humanities/Art History and chair of the Department of Art and Art History.

“Specifically, I want to discuss the material make-up of different paintings and the various types of damage that can affect them,” Smith says. “I will explain the unique ways conservators clean, restore and stabilize these works. Using paintings from TJC’s collection, I will feature behind-the-scenes photos from their conservation treatments. Additionally, all of these paintings happen to be by female artists. This is consistent with TJC’s celebration of The Year of the Woman.

“I am extremely thankful for this opportunity to dive deeply into an area I’m so passionate about,” says Smith, who will move to Chicago after graduation to work as a restoration assistant for a company producing restoration-grade masonry materials. “I have gained invaluable knowledge and experience about curatorial work and how a collection like TJC functions on a day-to-day basis. This internship has allowed me to venture further into the field of art history and really work in a way that will be beneficial in my endeavors moving forward.”