College of Architecture, Art and Construction

Exploring the Intersection of Art and Real-World Experience: Clemson University BFA Internships


As the Fall semester approaches, the anticipation for new beginnings fills the air at Clemson University. With the start of classes just around the corner, we take a moment to reflect on the enriching experiences of two Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) students who embarked on transformative summer internships. Kailey Nelms ’26 and Julia Shuler ’25, both BFA students, ventured into the world of art beyond the classroom, gaining insights into contemporary art and interior design. Their journeys not only honed their skills but also highlighted the profound impact of art on various aspects of human life.

Kailey Nelms, a talented BFA student, spent her summer in an exhilarating internship alongside the renowned contemporary artist, Dorothy Shain. This opportunity provided Kailey with a firsthand look into the world of a successful artist and the intricacies of managing an art-based business. Immersed in Dorothy Shain’s artistic universe, Kailey contributed to the artist’s marketing efforts through social media initiatives, fostering connections with potential clients. Beyond the studio, Kailey’s experience illuminated how art seamlessly intertwines with the realm of ‘for the home’ design and collaborates with national magazines and businesses. This exposure expanded Kailey’s artistic horizons, transforming her perception of the creative field.

Reflecting on her journey, Kailey shared, “I’ve been able to help Dorothy design some Mother’s Day cards to assist mothers in need in Greenville. I pitched a collaborative idea to a company now in the pipeline.” Kailey’s internship refined her technical skills and instilled in her a deeper understanding of art’s broader impact on communities.

A screen cap of a young woman with long blonde hair stands in front of a wall of canvas rainbow artwork and a white arrow indicates a video link.

Another promising BFA student, Julia Shuler undertook an exciting summer internship with the esteemed Michele Johnson Interior Design Firm. Drawing inspiration from travel, fashion, and art, Michele Johnson Interior Design Firm is renowned for its harmonious blend of contemporary style and timeless design. This internship offered Julia an invaluable opportunity to create interiors that resonate with individual client styles. This real-world experience enhanced Julia’s journey as an evolving artist within the Clemson University community.

At the heart of these internships lies a realization of the profound role of art in promoting holistic well-being. Both Kailey and Julia discovered how art can enhance mental health, enrich sensory experiences, and foster connections within society. Through their journeys, they recognized that art extends beyond aesthetics, touching lives on a deeper level.

As the Fall semester commences, the experiences of Kailey Nelms and Julia Shuler stand as a testament to the power of internships in shaping the educational journey of BFA students. Their exposure to the world beyond campus walls has refined their artistic skills and illuminated how art can touch and transform lives. The Clemson University community eagerly anticipates the ripples of inspiration and creativity that Kailey, Julia, and their peers will undoubtedly bring into their classrooms, studios, and beyond.

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