Pre-Med Student ‘Takes 5’ to Appreciate Art

By Joseph Bailey
University Communications

Billal Masood ’13/T5 ’14 came out of his years as an undergraduate last spring with a degree in biology and all the right qualifications for medical school…but he decided to spend a fifth year at Rochester to pursue an interest in fine art. He is finishing up his Take 5 year as an intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he works under the supervision of Michelle Hagewood, as a spring gallery and studio programs intern in the Education Department of the Met. He serves as a teaching assistant for studio programs, and also does research for the museum’s Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art grant. He learned of the internship in 2012, when visiting the Met, and is in the “Big Apple” through the University’s Art NY program

While Masood’s undergraduate career has seen him earn a degree in biology, with a minor in English and a cluster in psychology, he sees potential in developing new art-based therapies, where he hopes to apply what he has learned during the Art New York experience with what he will learn at medical school.

This year’s program attracted a variety of majors, including biology, business, and economics majors, etc., but they all shared a common interest in art. The program seeks to help students gain insight into the marriage of art theory and practice. His internship duties include serving as a T.A. for studio art programs, educating the general population of museum-goers, and lining up specific tours for the class he assists.

With regards to theory and practice of art, interns in the Art New York program take three classes: their individual internship, a colloquium, and a new media course. For the colloquium, the professor, Elizabeth Cohen, gives many lectures, and invites frequent guest lecturers as well. The program exposes students to the art scene in NYC, through immersion as well as instruction. Masood says, “I’m proud to have been a participant.”

Masood credits his family and Rochester faculty members for nurturing his love for art and academia. It’s a passion that his Met internship is deepening. He is constantly exploring the two million square feet of galleries the Met has to offer; often taking short lunch breaks to maximize his time seeing the art. These excursions have even taken him to the Guggenheim, which has piqued his interest in the relationship between art and architecture.

Some of the pieces Masood has spent the most time appreciating are The Temple of Dendur, Shiva as Lord of Dance, and a painting, Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies. The Temple of Dendur is a massive piece that includes inscriptions of many ancient Egyptian gods, including Isis, Osiris, and Horus. In Masood’s opinion, Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies reflects nature’s beauty and peace. He noted how his time at the museum has helped mature his appreciation of art.“I’m constantly involved in both behind-the-scenes and readily visible preparations,” he said. “I really hope to increase my understanding and appreciation of art each day.”