Alumni Profile: Mattie Codling
Director of Collections and Exhibitions
Walter Anderson Museum of Art
“You have a wealth of knowledge and expertise available from the art history faculty who are leaders in their fields. You also have the incredible resource of one of the country’s top ranked university museums. My professors and museum managers encouraged and pushed me to test my boundaries. They continue to support and celebrate my career.”
As an intern at the UM Museum Mattie curated a Southern Folk Art exhibition—researching artists, selecting pieces, and designing the show. She also interned at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi. After earning an MA in art history with a specialization in museum studies at Florida State University, she worked at the Mission San Luis Archaeological Site in Tallahassee, Florida.
The Art of Success
Experiences outside of the classroom were important elements of success for Mattie as 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.”
The University Museum internship 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 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 equipped Codling for her next steps in life. “UM 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.”