Q: What’s your earliest memory of an art experience? Do you have any personal projects?

Eileen: It isn’t my earliest art experience, but I can recall the exact moment I knew I wanted to study art history. I was in the sixth grade in Ms. Ard’s art class. She always diligently incorporated art history into her lesson plans. She put up a slide of Claude Monet’s Red Boats at Argenteuil. I was awestruck by the concept of style and the history of painting. Sitting cross-legged on the floor of that art classroom, I knew I wanted to learn about artists of the past more than I wanted to make art myself. It is a passion I have carried with me for a lifetime.

Q: Our current exhibition is about people and their pets. Do you have a favorite pet?

Eileen: For me, it would be a toss-up between a beloved childhood cocker spaniel named Happy and the sweet orange tabby named Toni that we have now. Part of the fun is watching my little girl Claire get a twinkle in her eye everytime Toni lets her get close for a little rub. The innocent childhood fascination with animals is really endearing.

Q: If you could invite five people from any point in history to a dinner party, who would be on your guest list?

Eileen: This is nearly impossible. One of the authors who most moved me, Marilyn Robinson, who wrote Housekeeping and Gilead among others. Famed feminist and historian Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me. Charles Willson Peale, nineteenth-century American artist, museum founder, and Enlightenment thinker. Because I am a Francophile at heart, Marie Antoinette or Napoleon Bonaparte would add spice to the party. Finally, James Baldwin or Maya Angelou for their incredible contributions to Civil Rights. So there’s a few extra options in case someone cancels!

Charles Willson Peale, “The Artist in his Museum,” 1822, Courtesy of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Digital Collection.

– Brigid Morrissey, Publicity Coordinator at the Carnegie Center for Art & History