When Valerie Whitacre ’08 visits the Arts Club in London, founded in 1863 as a haven for those with professional or amateur relationships with the arts, literature, and sciences (by a group that included Charles Dickens), she contemplates the serendipitous mix of hard work, circumstance, and good fortune that brought her there. The business development manager at the Hamiltons Gallery in London, who formed a self-designed major combining the history of art and philosophy at Scripps, had enjoyed a brief but successful career as a management consultant post-graduation. However, she was vexed by a longing that had gripped her since leaving Scripps. So, with her love of art—and the sage advice of Director of the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery and Professor of Art History Mary MacNaughton ’70—guiding her, she applied for and received the Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Scholarship to study art at the distinguished Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London.
Whitacre is among 13 other Scripps alumnae who have studied at the Courtauld thanks to the scholarship established by Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler ’72 in 2000. The scholarship provides tuition and a living stipend for one Scripps alumna annually who has been admitted to the institute’s MA program in art history, one of the world’s preeminent art history graduate programs. Other recipients of the scholarship possess similarly prestigious post-Courtauld bona fides, including positions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Seattle Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, the Getty Institute, the Citigroup Department of Fine Arts, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, as well as a spate of doctoral programs, including those of Stanford University, Yale University, and the University of Wisconsin in Madison. According to Meher McArthur, the newly appointed Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Curator of Academic Programs and Collections at the Williamson Gallery, such scholarships are rare in the art world: “At a time when arts education has been eliminated from so many schools and colleges, and art history is considered by many to be of minor importance as an academic subject, Mrs. Jungels-Winkler underscores the important role of art history in enriching the lives and careers of successful young women,” she says.
This enrichment is embodied by Whitacre, who has not only flourished professionally since her college years but has brought the spirit of Claremont to what she describes as a “small but enthusiastic contingent of Claremont Colleges alumni” residing in the U.K. With the support of the offices of alumni engagement at both Scripps and Claremont McKenna College, she helps to organize worldwide socials in London. “These events are a great way to connect about the past and future of the Colleges and the impact we can make on the community,” she says. Similarly, Professor MacNaughton sees the scholarship as providing a link between Scripps and the London art world.”After 18 years, these scholarships have created a bridge between Scripps and the Courtauld,” MacNaughton says. “There are links, as well, between the students and the greater academic communities they move in at the Courtauld. It is our hope that our students will remain connected to these communities as they begin their careers, and that these networks will provide another source of information and inspiration to both draw from and add to as they grow into seasoned professionals in their chosen fields.” Carolyn Wagner ’72, former Scripps College trustee and classmate and close friend of Jungels-Winkler, sees additional value in the scholarship beyond the networking opportunities it creates. “Scripps alumnae who study art overseas expand and enrich their knowledge of a multiplicity of artistic traditions and techniques through their engagement with works of art (and architecture) in situ and their interactions with local experts and practitioners,” she says.Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler continues to facilitate transnational art education and exhibitions beyond the Courtauld.
This past May, the Royal Academy of Arts in London opened the new Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries, a trio of spaces designed to house contemporary art and architecture exhibitions. The new galleries are part of a transformative redevelopment of the academy on the occasion of its 250th anniversary. An exhibition of landscapes by Tacita Dean, a British artist and filmmaker who is also an artist-in-residence at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, inaugurated the space. Running along the Thames as she does each morning, Whitacre thinks about how she cannot imagine her life without London. “The Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler scholarship was essential not only to my degree but also to my settling in London permanently,” she muses. “Effectively, and with no exaggeration, her gift changed the course of my life, and I am eternally grateful.”