By Sharon E. Trotter
For Jennifer Casler Price '83, speaking at Knox's 2009 Homecoming was thrilling enough; seeing retired art professor Henry Joe in the audience was "the icing on the cake."
"It was such an honor . . . to be able to acknowledge him and the role he played in my career."
Price met Joe the fall of her senior year when she took his course in Chinese art, a course that ultimately changed her life. She decided to make Chinese art the focus of her senior thesis and asked Joe to be her supervisor. He agreed.
"Henry had confidence in me and patiently guided me through the process," she said of her project about Chinese bamboo painting and its relationship to Chinese calligraphy.
As a first-year, Price had intended to major in psychology. Her sophomore year, however, she switched to art history. A love of art had been instilled in her in her early childhood in New York City, where her father was in theater design, doing costume, stage, and lighting on Broadway. After her family moved to Forth Worth when she was eight, her father became an interior designer. Her parents collected art, and her godfather was the director of the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey.
It was her love of art that, ultimately, took Price back to her childhood home. "Professor Joe's unflagging support and encouragement gave me confidence to pursue my graduate studies at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University," she says.
At NYU, Price earned a master's degree in Chinese art history and a certificate in curatorial studies. She was a curatorial assistant to the senior curator of Chinese art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for three years. She then left New York, once again, for Texas, becoming curator for Asian and non-Western art at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth in 1993.
At the Kimbell, Price exhibits and maintains permanent collections, organizes special exhibitions, gives tours, trains docents, and takes upper-level patrons on trips to countries such as China, Japan, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Berlin, Prague, and Vienna. She also has made nearly 30 acquisitions, contributes to publications, and lectures frequently.
"The nature of graduate school is to force you to specialize, but the nature of life is to be broad," Price said, noting similarities between her experiences at the Kimbell and that of a student at a small, liberal arts college where students learn about a wide variety of subjects.