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Peter Zimmerman

peter

Murray 1693 Scholar

Hometown

Chester Springs, PA (St. Andrew's School, Middletown, DE)

Major

Art History (focus on Modern/Contemporary Art)

Minor

Anthropology

Research Interests

Honors thesis, titled, "Body Language: The Presence and Absence of Cindy Sherman and Sherrie Levine, 1975-1987," co-authored with Joan Bowlen '09. The project focused on the ways in which Levine and Sherman, both female postmodern photographers (and in some ways sculptors), took issue with the implicit culturally reproduced and esteemed male gaze. I researched their art from a specific period (1975-1987) by taking both postmodern and feminist methodologies. I spent the summer of 2008 working on this project in New York City -- the place in which Levine and Sherman began exhibiting their photographs. New York was also the central location of a movement within the medium of photography to extend its aims, ideals, and technique through either its rejection of, or revision of, modernism. Through the aid of the Charles Center on campus, I kept a blog of his Honors thesis work. It was the first thesis ever undertaken by two students working together. I was awarded the Senior Art History Prize by the Department of Art and Art History and attended a crash summer course in business and finance at Harvard.

Teaching Opportunity

I was awarded a teaching fellowship through the Andrew Mellon Foundation's grant to the College to help teach a class on Japanese nationalism and pop culture from 1980 to present day. I worked closely with the professor to tailor the syllabus and choose thoughtful readings to help expand the discussion within the classroom. I also met with students outside of class to help create a wiki-based website that each week builds pages on issues pertaining to Japanese nationalism and pop culture. This fellowship gave me experience teaching in the classroom itself, focusing on the history of traditional Japanese art and its influence on the West, especially France, and then tracing that history up to present day with the likes of Murakami and the idea of "Superflat."

Study Abroad

I spent spring of 2007 living and working in Washington, DC, as a part of the semester-long W&M in Washington program. The program, whose theme changes every semester, was focused on Washington, D.C. and its role as an arts sphere for both local and international patrons. I held a full-time internship at the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden of Modern and Contemporary art, working in the Marketing and Communications Department. I got the chance to work closely with two huge exhibition openings, execute a highly important press conference for Yoko Ono's "Imagine Peace" project, and helped build a comprehensive database for outreach within the cities' arts scene.

W&M Activities
  • Sang in a cappella group, called the Cleftomaniacs, a co-ed group of 15 members. Acted as Musical Director, with the responsibility of running all rehearsals, conducting songs, arranging music, and making all of the musically relevant decisions for the group. We were the opening act for nationally-renowned folk singer Dar Williams.
  • Served on the Lively Arts Series Committee, which chooses a diverse program of arts programs and events in PBK Hall for each school year.
  • Student Assembly's undersecretary of Diversity Initiatives for the GLBT community.
Why W&M?

I chose William & Mary because of the incredible opportunities that the Murray Scholarship opened up for me. Not only does the priority registration allow me to take the most interesting classes I can find, I also want to take every course in which I enroll. I've had the chance to work with some of the most awe-inspiring, brilliant, and thought-provoking professors, and I am grateful for this chance. Also, the Murray Scholarship really advocates the importance of engaging in authentic research, something that stimulates me intellectually and emotionally. I feel like the Murray Scholarship has provided me with the best tools to becoming a scholar with many interests over a wide range of subjects. At the same time, the Murray Scholarship has taught me the importance of being able to balance academics, social activities, and extracurriculars. I am devoted to my studies and my projects at the College, but I am surrounded by a very tight-knit group of other scholars whose expertise outside of academics range from banjo playing, singing and world famous brownie making to sports, community service and playing in the College's pep band. I am so inspired by my peers that not only do I feel I have a group with which I see eye-to-eye, but I also feel a kinship to them that I haven't found in any academic setting. The Murray Scholarship has provided me with fifteen great friends whom I can rely on to support me inside and outside of academics. We all feed off of each other's energy, and this pulse has really stimulated me to take advantage of all the opportunities that College and the Murray Scholarship has to offer.

Where am I now?

I am the Head of Publicity for Toolshed Inc., a music marketing firm that represents indie musicians not on major labels, so I interface with the media and audiences to promote albums from a stable of artists, such as Cat Power, MNDR, The Decemberists, Aimee Mann, etc. I also work with the Stanford University admissions department, reading application files. I sing in the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, who's performance of Testimony went viral and can be seen on YouTube.