Graduating art history major reflects on her passion for art and appreciation for education


Kaylee Stout

Nellie Elliot poses for a photo in front of the Ulrich Museum of Art.

As a senior art history major, Nellie Elliot has developed a passion for creativity and the arts over the course of her college journey.

Elliot said her love for art started early on in life. Growing up, she loved to paint, but eventually, she took an interest in learning the history behind the art.

“Going to museums and viewing the art, I was never able to feel a deep connection with the art until I would learn the history behind it,” Elliot said. “So I love that when you learn the story of a work of art it kind of comes to life.”

Starting out, Elliot was a studio art major. One of her professors recognized her talent for writing and recommended an art history major to her.

“I started taking more art history classes and the more I took I just loved it more and more,” Elliot said.

Elliot has been an intern at the Ulrich Museum of Art on campus for almost two years now. She said the internship has taught her so much and it was a great experience for applied learning.

“It’s a pretty small museum so I’ve gotten to work in a lot of different departments,” said Elliot. “Everyone there has been super helpful and willing to let me try new things and learn from them.”

Elliot is preparing for graduation in May. After graduation, she plans to move on to graduate school.

“I’m hoping to get my grad[uate] degree in art conservation and eventually work in painting conservation,” Elliot said.

Only New York University, Buffalo University, and the University of Delaware have a graduate program for art conservation in the U.S., so Elliot says she will be applying to all three. 

However, Elliot says that moving that far from home, she will miss the community feeling of Wichita. She is from Wichita and had family members that also went to WSU.

“It really just feels like home to me,” said Elliot.

WSU’s art department has made a large impact on Elliot. She says that it is a tight-knit group, allowing for close relationships between students and faculty members.

“By the time you’ve been there for four years, you get to know people pretty well,” said Elliot. “It’s kind of its own sub community within the Wichita State community.”

Elliot said finishing up her degree at WSU during the pandemic was definitely a strange experience. Through it, she has developed her time management skills and learned new ways to connect with people.

“So much of what you do in the art department is studio classes and it’s very hands-on, so learning to talk about art and learning to make art remotely — it’s been a challenge,” Elliot said.

After four years of college, Elliot has learned some important lessons. When she first got to college she believed that there was a completely straight path forward; you study what you came to study, get your degree in four years and then you get a job in your field. 

“I’ve learned that the path can be much more tangled,” Elliot said. “You can go one way for a while and decide you don’t want to do that and go back.”

“It’s okay to just let yourself try new things and not tie yourself down to one path.”

Elliot says that this message is good advice for upcoming and current college students.

“Just allowing yourself to mess up every once in a while and recognizing that your mistakes or things that maybe don’t lead directly to what your goal is are still valuable experiences,” said Elliot.