In the spring of 2021, a number of students took part in the Canada Constructed internship opportunities, under the course code FAH481H1 in the Department of Art History at the University of Toronto. Here, fourth-year student Angel Yang reflects on her internship experience with 401 Richmond…
Tell us about yourself and your placement!
Hi there! My name is Angel and I am entering my fourth year studying geography and urban studies at U of T. My goal is to become an urban planner, so I thought that completing a summer internship placement through FAH481 would be a great opportunity to get some work experience while earning credit.
My placement was at 401 Richmond, which is a cultural hub for artists, galleries, and non-profit organizations. It is a 4-storey heritage building located near Queen Street and Spadina—you may have attended Nuit Blanche here!
What did you do in your internship?
I worked on a research initiative that aims to capture the historical narrative of the building, as well as to demonstrate how art and collaboration impact the community. The project involved collecting data from archival newsletters that range from the 1990s to the present, and choosing important events to showcase in the historical timeline. It also involved interviewing past and present tenants at the building to learn about their personal journey with 401.
During my placement, I designed the research protocol and planned out the direction of the whole project. By the end of my placement, I was able to begin interviewing tenants, and it has been wonderful meeting new people and learning their stories.
Spoiler alert: I was given the opportunity to stay on the project in a paid position after the internship course ended in June! Since then, I have continued to meet different tenants, who all have incredible stories and anecdotes about the space.
What did you take away from this experience?
Before this placement, I was never really interested in the art scene in Toronto, or art in general. I have visited the AGO and explored the city during Nuit Blanche, but I never thought about the importance of art. Through 401, I was able to interact with so many artists and people who adore the arts. I have learned how art can connect people together and build culture and community in a space.
My favourite part about the placement is the amazing community at 401. The way that the tenants truly care about each other and the space is so special. I gained a new perspective, which is that art and culture have deep impacts on citizens and the city itself.
This course has been an amazing opportunity for me because I met so many wonderful and inspiring people in the arts and architecture industry. As an urban planning student, I am grateful for the first-hand experience of seeing how art can enhance culture and foster community in a space. I was able to practice my skills in teamwork, networking, and taking initiative through the 401 research project.
I am thankful to my fellow internship partner Shahza Saeed, my 401 supervisor William Huffman, and my U of T supervisor Jessica Mace for being extremely accommodating and a pleasure to work with. I would recommend this course to any students who want to experience working in the architecture industry.
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This project is supported by the Learning & Education Advancement Fund at the University of Toronto