Class of 2011: Allison Footit

Allison Footit combines art and activism, using art as a touchstone for understanding the world.

As the University counts down to Commencement, UConn Today is featuring some of this year’s outstanding graduating students, nominated by their academic school or college or another University program in which they participated. For additional profiles of students in the Class of 2011, click here.

<p>Allison Footit. Photo by Jessica Tommaselli, CLAS '11</p>
Allison Footit, SFA ’11. Photo by Jessica Tommaselli, CLAS '11

Allison Footit’s undergraduate years at UConn have been all about discovery.

Footit comes from the small western Massachusetts town of Charlemont. She arrived on campus as a freshman with an undeclared major and a desire to enjoy the academic, social, and cultural offerings of a large state school. Beyond that, she hadn’t formulated many plans.

During her time here, she not only found a major, she also discovered a cause, and she now knows where she’s headed in the future.

As she explains it, “I took a survey course in art history my first semester, and I was hooked. My passion is looking at other people’s work and analyzing it … I’ve worked at the Contemporary Art Gallery and as a docent at the Ballard and Benton Museums, and I’ve gotten really excited about museum education.”

“For me,” she continues, “It’s about bringing people into museums who wouldn’t ordinarily go to them. I like working with all kinds of people, trying to get them as excited and passionate about art as I am … to get them comfortable in a museum setting. And I’m really into working with kids.”

Footit has been a vocal presence on campus through her work with Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and in her role as a USG Senator. At first glance political activism and art history might seem like they don’t have much in common, but Footit says she is comfortable in both arenas. “I use art as a touchstone for understanding the world,” she says.

Her activism has made her aware of various human rights and social justice causes on campus. She lists Eco Garden, UConn PIRG, and the Women’s Center, among other worthy organizations, adding, “When I got involved in SSDP, it was like I’d finally found my niche. There are no words to explain the amazing feeling you get when you meet people with all these different passions who are fighting for change. There are no words to explain the feeling you get when you know you aren’t the only person who feels this way, because there’s a lot of apathy on campus. My [activist] friends are the biggest support system I have.”

Her advisor, associate professor of art & art history/women’s studies Anne D’Alleva, says, “Allison is remarkable for her intellectual passion, her energy. She’s been involved in student government and in activist causes, has maintained a very high GPA, all the while working to support herself financially. I admire her so much as a person and as a student.”

Following graduation, Footit will be giving up what she calls a “cozy and welcoming” house on Coventry Lake, where she and her roommates have lived for the past two years. She’s headed to Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony in Lenox, Mass., for summer employment as a tour guide. In the fall, she will return to UConn to begin studying for a master’s in art history.

“I’ve been so pleased with my four years here,” Footit says, “I know I couldn’t have gotten any more out of it [than I did]. I don’t regret any of the choices I’ve made, and the chance to continue on for my master’s is a dream come true.”