Adrien Mercier: Degree in Art History led to position as gallery director

Hera Gallery director Adrien Mercier '15 says his CVPA classes prepared him for a successful career.

Year: Class of 2015
Major: Art History
Minor: Religious Studies
Hometown: East Freetown, MA
Leadership: President, Art History Club
Career: Gallery director at Hera Gallery

Hera Gallery director

I was hired as gallery director at Hera Gallery. It opened in 1974 as an all-woman art cooperative—a necessity during a time when women were not given many opportunities to show their work. Today, it accepts membership and proposals from all genders and orientations, but it still emphasizes ethnic, culturally diverse, or subversive exhibitions.

My role is handling all administrative and public relations functions. This includes writing press releases and gallery publications, developing fundraising initiatives, curating exhibitions, planning public events, and acting as the gallery’s representative at town meetings, network events, and openings.

Learning history through art

Art History is one of the few majors that delves holistically into the development and history of “us,” while giving you a particular focus.

Art is not made in a vacuum. You can learn about what was going on during a specific time by studying the art. In the other direction, by knowing specific history and events of the time, you can understand the meaning of an art piece or movement.

This gives me the opportunity, as well as the responsibility, to learn as much as I can about different topics. My career will be continuing to learn and understand some of the most interesting topics I can think of and, in the process, help others learn too.

Adrien Mercier at Hera Gallery

UMassD prepares for success

UMass Dartmouth prepared me to be successful. The intensity of my 300- and 400-level classes taught me the importance of hard work and instilled an ability to learn quickly and have faith in myself. 

I was also an active member in the Art History club, eventually entering leadership roles. That was beneficial to my current position.

I didn’t have one professor who was a mentor; I had five. I became very close with Profs. Memory Holloway, Anna Dempsey, Thomas Stubblefield, Pamela Karimi, and Hallie Meredith. They each encouraged and challenged me in different ways. I’ve never met teachers who tried so hard to make sure their students succeeded.

Advice: learn from your experiences

You get back what you put into your experience at college. Don’t say no because something is hard or you’re not sure you can do it. You never truly fail unless you don’t grow from the experience. That being said, it is okay to say no to make time for yourself to decompress and have fun.

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