Art History: Isabelle Ruane

Dressed in a colorful, floral dress that she designed herself, senior Isabelle Ruane has found her home away from home in Scales. Ruane is from Charlotte, N.C., and has made the most of her last few years in Wake’s art department.

Julie Huggins/Old Gold & Black

Julie Huggins/Old Gold & Black

Ruane first became interested in art history when she took an intro class in high school. When she came to Wake she took a survey course her freshman year and fell in love with the area of study. She decided to major in art history and minor in anthropology.

“I feel like [the two areas of study] work really well together, especially when you think about how art is not made in a vacuum,” Ruane said. “Politics, time period, style — lots of things affect art.”

Ruane said that her wonderful professors in the art and anthropology departments inspired her interests.

Anthropology professor Paul Thacker said that Ruane brings her art and anthropology insight to the table in class.

“Isabelle has both intellectual depth and breadth, and she is able to bridge the humanities and the social sciences with rare ease,” Thacker said. “In my archaeology and prehistory classes, she is able to understand and communicate how material culture is always more than it appears at first glance.”

Thacker said that her work in class and especially in projects is a great example of interdisciplinary insight.

“As is true of our best students, her academic engagement and class leadership made the course much more rewarding for all of us,” Thacker said. After studying art history for two years, Ruane went to Venice in the fall of her junior year. She studied at the university’s Casa Artom house on the Grand Canal.

“It was just fabulous, I loved it,” Ruane said. She said that being an art history major, Italy was her first choice to immerse herself in art. She visited major cities in Italy including Rome, Milan and Florence, but Venice was her favorite.

Outside of art classes, Ruane is also a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma and was on the exec board of Wake N’ Shake this year.

On the side of all of these commitments, Ruane’s favorite hobby is designing clothes. She makes all kinds of clothes — dresses, coats, jackets, coats, skirts, shirts. She said it is something she has been doing since she was eight.

“I started taking sewing classes when I was 11 and then throughout most of high school,” Ruane said. “It got to the point where I didn’t need lessons anymore. Maybe there is a future there I haven’t decided if I want it to be a personal thing or a profession.”

Ruane’s plan for next year is to stay at the university as the Alumni Giving Fellow in the Office of Advancement. She will work at the university’s phone center and with the 1834 Campaign.

“I will miss the people in my class the most but since I am staying to work here, I will still have the sense of community and feeling of Wake,” Ruane said. “I know that being on staff will be a completely different experience than the student experience.”

This experience fits her long-term goals because she will gain fundraising experience. Eventually, she hopes to attend graduate school and find a career in fundraising for art institutions.

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