by Kelly Gillikin Schoueri
Coming in as a freshman to UM, I had two passions and career paths, art and archaeology. I chose to pursue archaeology academically but I didn’t want to lose my connection to creative art. LHSP (now LSWA) became an amazing outlet for having this access to an arts community without committing to a Fine Arts degree. I loved it so much that I became a Student Assistant (SA) and a Resident Advisor (RA), sticking all four years with LHSP. While at Michigan, I completed a concentration in Classical Archaeology with a focus on the Romans and also minored in Museum Studies, Anthropological Archaeology, and Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
When I was an SA/RA, I ran the Photo Club and I was also a photographer for the Michiganensian Yearbook. Because of this interest in photography, I volunteered at the Kelsey Museum on the UM campus where I helped with photographing their artifact collection for archival and exhibition purposes.
After graduation in 2014, I interned with the National Forest Service in Alaska where I experienced how heritage preservation and archaeology affects indigenous communities. In the summer of 2015, I participated in an excavation in Hungary where I applied my detail-oriented artistic skills to field drawings and archaeological illustration. My next step was to receive my Masters in Archaeology at The University of Edinburgh from 2015 to 2016. I chose a UK program because the field of archaeology there is approached from both theoretical and technical aspects. One of the tools I learned how to use was the Agisoft software, which is used to make photogrammetric 3D models.
From 2016 to 2018 I was living in Vienna, Austria because Pedro (my now husband) was getting his PhD in International Tax Law there. He is Brasilian and we had met in 2014 while he was getting his Master’s degree at Michigan’s Law School. In Vienna, I found a community of archaeologists performing high-tech and large-scale geophysical prospection in Austria and across Europe. In addition to creating virtual reconstructions with Autodesk’s 3Ds Max, I was able to create digital models and then 3D print them with the in-house 3D printer.
After interning for almost a year with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology (LBI), I started a job with a digital media company called 7Reasons Medien. 7Reasons is a partner company with the LBI and they frequently collaborate on digital media installations for museum exhibition or online videos and images for cultural institutions. At 7Reasons, my skills with 3D modelling, 3D printing, and video production developed very quickly. The archaeological reconstructions and digital media I completed at 7Reasons have been displayed by museums like the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna and in regional museums within Austria as well as in Norway, the Netherlands, and Turkey.
This YouTube video was my first solo project that I worked on from start to finish while at 7 Reasons. The video is a great explanation of the process of reconstructing archaeological features. It tells the story of a Roman tavern located in Ephesos, Turkey.
In September 2018, Pedro and I were married in both the US and Brasil and we moved to São Paulo, where we plan to stay put for at least a few years. Currently, I am working on Roman North African and Israeli reconstruction projects with a Roman Archaeology research group at the University of Sao Paulo. I am also attempting to start my own small digital heritage company called Kleio Digital. I chose Kleio (or Clio) because she is the Greek muse of history. Website and social media presence coming soon! My other secret passion is cooking and I’ve been photographing and posting my creations on Instagram with the handle @saopaulokitchen.
It’s not easy to stick with a career in archaeology; I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have found opportunities where I keep learning and developing new skills–especially digital skills because this is an area that is quickly developing within the field of archaeology. Creating digital media and reconstructions for heritage and archaeology is relevant and important because it brings history to life for the public audience. It can generate more appreciation and investment into heritage preservation as well as bring contextual understanding of sites and artifacts. I love that I can make something both artistic and historically accurate for people to learn from and enjoy.
I believe my desire to have hands-on creative work led me from photography to 3D modeling and across multiple countries and languages. LHSP (LSWA) showed me that this merger of academics and art is not only possible, but can turn into a rewarding and exciting career path.
All photos courtesy of Kelly Gillikin Schoueri.