Neighborhood Studios Alumni Spotlight | An Advocate for the Arts


2007 | SNAP! Photography Apprentices

I began my contact with Lauren through the Amistad Center for Art & Culture’s Master Teaching Artist, Caleb Portfolio. Caleb has been the Master Teaching Artist for SNAP! Photography since Lauren’s first year as an apprentice in 2007. She continued her work with the program as a Teaching Artist Assistant for Caleb in 2009 and 2010. 10 years have passed since Lauren began Neighborhood Studios and she continues to advocate for the program and the impact it has made on her career. Learn more about how Neighborhood Studios helped her land a job in the arts field below.

Tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you like to do for fun? What motivates you every day?

My name is Lauren Shea-Warner; I currently work at the Springfield Museums in Development and Membership.

For fun I like to explore new places, traveling, trying unique foods, and dancing.

What motivates me is my passion and love of the arts. I have seen the impact art makes on individuals by inspiring and challenging their ideals. I often have to remind myself when I am up to my nose in fundraising work, to look at the greater picture knowing that I am aiding [in the] betterment of my community. I am fortunate to work in a field with individuals that constantly inspire me to not just be a better administrator but a better person.

“What motivates me is my passion and love of the arts.”

Describe your knowledge of photography prior to your Neighborhood Studios summer apprenticeship?

Prior to [the Neighborhood Studios Program] NSP I had no real photography experience. I hate to age myself, but iPhones weren’t even out at that time. I had a digital camera, but taking pictures was definitely not what it is now.

In comparison, at what level did you reach during the very last week?

In terms of photography, I left the program knowing not just the terminology, but the whole process.

Describe what it was like to explore photography at a nationally and internationally recognized art center like the Amistad Center for Art & Culture and additionally at the Wadsworth Atheneum.

Before the program, I knew very little about what the Amistad and Wadsworth had to offer in terms of a photography collection. Once in the program, I spent countless days studying the collection and fell in love with the arts.


Do you still keep in touch with your Master Teaching artist or studio? In what way?

After my apprenticeship, I kept in contact with Caleb, Olivia White and Monica Scott (the Amistad educator at the time). Monica knew of my interest in learning about Museums and invited me to be a part of a Teen Advisory Group, where I and a few of the other Apprentices put on shows and volunteered for various Family Day programs at the Wadsworth.


Name one thing that was drilled into your head as an apprentice?

Keep an open mind and you can do anything.


How has Neighborhood Studios impacted your career?

I do not even know where to begin! I went into the program as a High School Junior not knowing what my future would be. I had always had an interest towards art and culture, but I never thought of it as a career. Throughout the program, we met with various people who worked in the Museum as well as other art administrators. It was this experience that inspired me to go into the art field. While I enjoyed being an artist, I felt my skills were better suited to help advocate for artists. My experience with NSP prepared and made me confident once I was in college. While many of my peers had never had real arts experience, NSP had instilled in me the importance of trying new things and having an open mind. Throughout the years I interned, volunteered and worked in all different types of arts organizations, while also maintaining my connection to NSP. After graduation and with a recommendation from Olivia White, I was accepted into the Advanced Level Internship program at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. An experience which confirmed my love for the arts and the importance it has on our communities. After the program, I pursued a Master’s degree in Arts Administration at Boston University. I am lucky to have landed a job in the arts field and I can honestly say I love doing what I do. While I currently do not live in the Hartford area, I will forever feel connected to the Greater Hartford Arts Council, [The Amistad Center], the Wadsworth Atheneum and the individuals who created this program.

“While I enjoyed being an artist, I felt my skills were better suited to help advocate for artists.”

Who would be the perfect candidate for the Neighborhood Studios program?

The ideal candidate is not someone who necessarily is the best artist, but is rather an individual who is passionate about learning and experiencing new things.


What advice can you offer new apprentices?

I would advise future apprentices to take advantage of their time at the cultural locations and meet with artists and art professionals. Use your time wisely!



  1. Take advantage of every opportunity you receive; take advice, ask for recommendations, build relationships, and keep an open mind.
  2. You do not have to be an artist to find your place in the arts industry.
  3. Choose a career path that will inspire you every day.
  4. Be careful, you may fall in LOVE with the arts.
  5. You do not need experience to apply!


About Neighborhood Studios:

Neighborhood Studios, the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s award-winning, nationally recognized summer arts apprenticeship program, will enter its 18th season when it kicks off in June 2016. The six-week summer program provides area teenagers between ages 14 – 18 with an immersive, hands-on education in the arts, as well as career-skills training



The 2017 Neighborhood Studios Application deadline is April 14, 2017. Find out how you can apply here.

Contact Amanda Roy, Community Programs Manager for more information about the program at | (860) 525-8629 x252


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