Summer Centered: Alyssa Kerper ’20 Brings FringeArts into Focus
The French and art history double major is using her writing skills to inform Philadelphians about the performances FringeArts produces.
"People always ask me what I plan on doing with an art history major, and I never have a great answer for them,” said Kerper. “I don’t think what you major in has to dictate the kind of job you get at all, but I wanted to explore jobs in the art world to see if it’s something I might want to pursue.”
It was that mindset that led Kerper to a summer internship at FringeArts, the Philadelphia nonprofit that mounts the famous annual Fringe Festival every September and, year-round, acts as the city’s “home for contemporary performance.”
Sponsored by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities, Kerper was excited about the chance to explore a side of Philly’s art world that was previously unknown to her.
"For a while I’ve been interested in different types of arts institutions and places where I can use my excitement for art to impact more people—and different types of people—than those traditionally welcome inside museums,” she said. “FringeArts strives to start new and interesting conversations using innovative, contemporary performing art, and I love being a part of that.”
Kerper spends her time working on FringeArt’s guide, a publication that profiles the artists and exhibitions that will be showcased in the coming fall's fest. She also writes up blog posts for the organization that reach a broad audience of Philadelphians interested in the sorts of contemporary forms of expression that FringeArts produces.
"I have gained an understanding of the workplace and what it’s like to use the skills I have learned in school in a work environment,” she said. “Because I am writing for the FringeArts blog and for the guide, I am learning how to write in a more engaging, less academic style, which I think will benefit me as I pursue careers that might involve writing. It’s cool to see my writing, which is normally only read by professors, published on a public website. That’s honestly something I never thought would happen.”
This internship is also an opportunity for Kerper to apply her extracurricular interests to the workplace, not just her academic passions.
"Although I focus on visual art at school,” Kerper said, “I have participated in performing arts for most of my life, and at Haverford I sing in a women*s a cappella group, so this internship combines a lot of my interests. It is fun to see how my extracurricular interests can translate to a real job and to know that whatever I am passionate about, there is probably a job related to it.”
After this summer, Kerper looks forward to applying the skills she has learned at FringeArts to the rest of her time at Haverford and beyond.
"I am definitely interested in the nonprofit world after seeing how passionate everyone is about the work they’re doing,” she said. “Even though FringeArts isn’t a need-based nonprofit, the staff are all super invested in the company and in serving the community in their own way. I am also seeing that writing is a marketable skill and tons of jobs exist that I hadn’t considered before.”
Kerper, a rising junior, will be practicing her French and visiting those famous art museums in Paris in the fall, but encourages those who will not be abroad to check out this year’s Fringe Festival.
"There are some really great shows, and some are even happening at Bryn Mawr, so there’s no excuse not to check them out,” she said. “I have been researching and writing about these shows for over a month now, and I can confidently say that the festival will be amazing and will feature work you’ve definitely never seen before.”