Souls Grown Deep offers three paid internships to undergraduate students of color annually at select museums, affording part-time professional experience at a leading art museum during the academic year. Internships include a trip to visit the Foundation in Atlanta and the artists and communities it serves in the Southeast, including Gee's Bend, Alabama. Each intern receives a $10,000 stipend for an academic year, or $5,000 for a semester from Souls Grown Deep, and is required to commit to a minimum of 8 hours per week.

The Mellon Foundation's pioneering study on the challenges of diversifying museum staff pointed to the need to support students at the undergraduate level, to encourage the pursuit of graduate education. Our program will offer yet another avenue for students of color to develop a professional museum background in our emerging field through any one of a number of arenas: curatorial, registrarial, conservation, education, or administration.

Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis is currently pursuing a double major in art history and biology as part of Dartmouth College’s Class of 2023. Her interest in American art was ignited in high school when learning about how the art movements of the 1960s challenged and protested societal injustices. She remains interested in learning about how art can be used to express and explore one's identity or as a tool of protest, and has seized the opportunity as a Souls Grown Deep intern to further her understanding of museum curation and the voices and stories of the Black artists that came before her. 

Natiana Fonseca

Natiana Alexandra Fonseca is an undergraduate student in their third year at the Rhode Island School of Design working towards their BFA in Textiles Design. Through weaving with natural materials such as cotton and wool, Natiana utilizes their own experiences as a queer Black person to explore stories of relationships, memory, and water. In their current endeavors, Natiana is working with the recently acquired Gee’s Bend quilts from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation at the RISD Museum. With their time at the RISD Museum in the Costume and Textiles Department working with Curator Kate Irvin and Associate Conservator Jessica Urick, Natiana has been focused on mapping the journey of these quilts and the people who made them through material studies, geographic research of Boykin, Alabama and surrounding areas, the textiles industry and the industrial revolution, and the transatlantic slave trade. 

Demo Jeffrey

Demo Jeffrey holds a BA in Art History from Howard University, where he studied courses such as Trends and Ideas in African American Art, Contemporary Art (MA level), Central and East African Art, and Black Women in Visual Culture. He previously interned at Howard University Gallery of Art, where he conducted and filed research on past and current exhibitions, and has served as a Library Technician at the National Gallery of Art. He is motivated to learn more about exhibition development and the curatorial processes involved in creating displays of African American art.

Payton Murray

Payton Murray graduated with a BSc degree in Criminal Justice from Hampton University in 2021, where they also took courses in sculpture, art history, and ceramics. As an artist, they like to paint, crochet, and make pottery, and understand the importance of caring for and preserving artworks. At Hampton University Museum, Payton cared for pieces, including the Reuben V. Burrell Photographic Inventory, undertook general conservation cleaning of books in the University Museum Library, and photographed archived collections. They have also completed an internship in conservation at the Brooklyn Museum, and are currently an Artbridges Conservation Fellow, working at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Christopher Smothers

Christopher Smothers is a recent graduate of Clark Atlanta University, where he received his BA in History with a minor in criminal justice. Prompted by his own personal search for a sense of identity in his ancestral roots, he is committed to helping people discover their roots and understand the story of their ancestors. In January 2018, he founded Unearthing Your Roots, Inc. in an effort to provide professional genealogical services to people in search of their biological families and ancestors abroad. Christopher has worked with Souls Grown Deep to trace and map the genealogy of the quilters of Gee’s Bend, as well as that of individual artists within the collection, such as Puvis Young and Thornton Dial. 

Ayode Balogun

Ayoade Balogun is a senior at Stanford University, studying African and African American Studies and Environmental Systems Engineering. Her experience as a research and curatorial intern at the National Museum of African American History and Culture sparked her excitement about the museum field and she has since held internships and student positions at the de Young Museum and Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center and Anderson Collection. Her passions for environmental justice and Black diasporic art converge, and an interest in the crucial role of art and cultural production in understanding and telling the stories of Black relationships with land.

Ufuoma Ogbemudje

Ufuoma Ogbemudje is a junior at the University of Toledo, with a Major in Film/Video and a Minor in Art History. Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, and having a constant curiosity about the somewhat forgotten music and film from the country’s past has resulted in an interest in the arts which extends to visual art as well. Growing up around the local arts scene in Lagos, as well as taking Art History and Video Art courses which have served as foundations and practice for his interaction with art, has solidified his interest in the museum field. In the future, he intends to pursue careers in both filmmaking and curation with a focus in Black and African art which addresses the existence of the aforementioned identities, and sees the Souls Grown Deep Foundation internship as a gateway into this career path.

Christian Reeder

Christian Reeder is a graduating senior at Spelman College. As a Sociology/Anthropology major with a minor in French and Curatorial Studies, Christian will become a cultural anthropologist who curates the complexity of Black American culture as social knowledge. She aims to study and showcase the contributions of Black Americans to world culture. As she travels internationally, she will theorize, connect, and understand the commonality and nuances across the African Diaspora. She will utilize her skillset in Anthropology and Curatorial Theory to critique the colonial history of museums in an effort to imagine a decolonial praxis for cultural storytelling. Her interests include the preservation of Popular culture, community healing through curation, and decolonization. 

Starasea Nidala Camara

Starasea Nidiala Camara is a budding museum professional and full-time student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. As a junior at the U of M's College of Liberal Arts she will be pursuing an Individually Designed Interdepartmental B.A., in which she will be concentrating in African American & African Studies, Art History, and Arabic. Starasea, a second-generation Afro-Latinx and Afro-Caribbean islander, is originally from southern California and has called the Midwest home for several years. In addition to the Souls Grown Deep Foundation Internship, she also has been awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, Nathan Siegel Scholarship Endowment, and is a current holder of the Charles & Myrtle Stroud II Scholarship at the U of M​. Starasea has been working at the Minneapolis Institute of Art as a Visitor Experience Representative since the Fall of 2018, where she has had the opportunity to grow professionally and connect cross-departmentally. From serving on the Curatorial Advisory Committee for the "Mapping Black Identities" exhibition, and Cultural/Spiritual Adviser for the "Turkish Rugs on Tudor Walls" exhibition; Starasea brings aspects of intersectionality and authenticity into her curatorial practice. As a curator, her work seeks to represent historically marginalized communities, while decolonizing how we view the intersections of linguistics, nationality, and ethnic identity in relation to the African Diaspora.

Ja'Hari Ortega

Ja’Hari Ortega​ ​is a Junior at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design where she majors in Studio for Interrelated Media and minors in Sculpture. Within her major she focuses on performance art, event production, and the idea of art as a tool for communication. Outside of class, she is interested in curation, community, and facilitating conversations about race and racism. She is a student representative for the Black Artist Union at MassArt and has worked with various departments on campus such as the Center for Art and Community Partnerships, Curatorial Programs, and the Office of Justice, Equity and Transformation. As a Souls Grown Deep intern at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Ja'Hari hopes to learn more about the various departments that are involved in the making of an exhibition. She is also interested in learning about how community interacts with exhibitions and their conception through public programming. Ja'Hari hopes to take what she learns and use it to help promote the contributions of artists within her community.

Jordan Stella Hendricks

Jordan Ann Estelle “Stella” Hendricks​ was born in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She is a rising senior at Towson University and is majoring in Art + Design with a concentration in sculpture. As an artist, she works with various media including photography, metal and ceramics. She enjoys art for its healing properties and its ability to question norms, connect with deeper parts of the psyche, and inspire a sense of freedom. She aims to help develop community art spaces for womxn and non-binary people of color that center around healing and self-expression. At her university, she is a member of Towson Freedom School and Gamma Xi Phi, a co-ed arts fraternity. She has interned in the Teen and Special Programs departments at the National Portrait Gallery where she focused on women’s suffrage through the ‘Because of Her Story’ program. As a Soul’s Grown Deep Intern, Stella’s main educational goal is to learn how exhibition design and curatorial work combine to create powerful narratives. Her primary interest is in the relationship between artists within the Baltimore community and museums. Art is not something just given to the community, but the community has perceptions and experiences that play an important role in these centers as well. She hopes to continue finding ways to combine creativity with societal analysis to implement social change.

Dorthy Ray, 2019 Souls Grown Deep Intern

Dorthy Ray was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She recently completed her B.A. in Art History at Louisiana State University. She works primarily with Futures Fund, a program offering training in the arts to middle through high school students. As a curator, photographer, and mixed media artist, her work seeks to challenge viewers to explore the ambiguities of identity, gender, and sexuality as they relate to the Black body.

Akili Davis, 2019 Souls Grown Deep Intern

Akili Davis is a junior Sociology major and Visual Studies minor at Bryn Mawr College. Her academic interests include museum studies and moving image media. Akili has previously interned with other Philadelphia cultural institutions like the Slought Foundation and Till Arts Project, and she is currently on the Barnes Foundation Campus Outreach Council. On her college campus, she is the Civic Engagement representative to the Student Government Association. Although she is originally from Greenville, South Carolina, Akili calls Philadelphia home and hopes to continue working in the arts community there after graduation.

Jacynth Serrano Rodriguez, 2019 Souls Grown Deep Intern

Jacynth Serrano Rodriguez is a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) located in Richmond, Virginia. In May 2019, Jacynth will receive her Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in both Art History and Media Studies. In addition to receiving the Souls Grown Deep Foundation Internship, she previously held internships with Blackbird Literary Journal and VCU's Recreational Sports Program. In 2016, she received awards and accolades for her visual and written work including the 1st Place and Purchase Award, the Vincent Hammond Visual Arts Scholarship, and the Chadab Foundation Scholarship for the Arts at Northern Virginia Community College. Upon graduating in the spring, Jacynth plans to attend graduate school and continue exploring the nexus of her passions and her studies: art, culture, and media.

Program Sponsors of the 2018-19 Souls Grown Deep Intern class are Jay Ptashek and Karen Elizaga.