Graduates talk

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Lara Varela Gajewski / Warren, New Jersey
Saybrook College: Economics; History of Art

You have an unusual pairing of majors. How did that happen?
When I started at Yale, I had no idea what I wanted to study, and my dad suggested I take some economics classes. Then I took an art history class for a writing credit, and absolutely loved it. The double major has aligned really well with my interests, because I’d like to work in a gallery or auction house. When I interned at a gallery two summers ago, I was shocked to learn how much they pay attention to economic trends. They need to project their sales, understand what prices to aim for, what kind of artists to bring in.

How did COVID-induced closings of museums and libraries affect you as an art history major?
For my senior thesis, I compared two books of hours from fourteenth-century France. A book of hours is a tiny, customized, personal prayer book, frequently used by women. I looked at the use of portraiture [of the books’ owners] within the books, and at questions about agency and female identity and autonomy in the Middle Ages via these books. When I decided on the topic back in junior year, I imagined myself going to the Beinecke all the time to look at them. I was only able to see them twice, though the library did a great job of digitizing everything.

What will you miss about New Haven?
I’ll miss the landscape of the city. Going on walks during COVID, I discovered all these new places. You can walk downtown and get the hustle and bustle, or go further up, and it’s quiet and peaceful. I’ve done so many walks up Saint Ronan Street, where there are gorgeous big old houses that I never knew existed.