Getting hired as an intern by the Smithsonian Archives of American Art was a welcome surprise for PSU alumnus Ross Schartel and his former art professor, S. Portico Bowman: to her knowledge, he’s the first PSU graduate to work there.

But an even bigger surprise awaited when he showed up for his first day of work: seven boxes of papers by a world-renowned artist had been delivered the day before, and his task was to help unpack, decipher, and annotate them. The artist to whom they belonged?

The late Marjorie Schick, who taught for 50 years in the PSU Art Department and for whom Schartel had worked his senior year.

Schick was known internationally for her wearable art. Schartel had helped her prepare a retrospective of her work, hosted by International Arts and Artists of Washington D.C., was exhibited at museums and galleries throughout the U.S. and Europe through 2008 and most of 2009. It also can be found in museums and private collections around the world.

He was devastated to learn of her death last fall, but elated to be given such a special task at a nationally-revered institution.

His connection to Schick helped when it came to identifying dates, places, and names in the documents.

“It feels very odd to go from working with Marjorie, to working on Marjorie, but I’ve kept the same level of admiration for her,” he said. “I can’t even begin to talk about how influential Marjorie is/was/will be in my work and thoughts.”

Schartel, who earned a history degree and a minor in art, previously worked at the Nelson Art Gallery in Kansas City. He said keeping in touch with faculty, including Bowman, helped him secure the job at the Smithsonian.

“It just goes to show that faculty care about students here even after they’re gone,” he said. “They stay in touch; they want to see you succeed.”