In French, the colloquialism violon d’Ingres is synonymous with one’s life work or hobby.
That’s why Geri Koenig had outlines of the F-holes of a violin tattooed on the back of her neck – to pay homage to American artist Man Ray’s Le Violon d’Ingres, a depiction of a woman with a similar tattoo on her back modeled after the work of French neoclassical painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.
For Geri, the tattoo symbolizes how she constantly reinvents herself – just as Ray reinvented Ingres’ work in his Le Violon d’Ingres.
She doesn’t fit the mold of corporate America with the studs piercing her lips and the shock of bright orange hair that peeks out from the dark brown locks along her forehead.
But that’s fine with Geri. She plans to utilize the flexibility of her degree to explore and fuse her interests – historic preservation and art.
“Success to me is doing what you’re passionate about,” said Geri, who transferred to Temple from Moravian College sophomore year as an art education major. “Those jobs in corporate America are just not what I’m interested in.”
Before last summer, Geri set out to find herself an internship that catered to her unique interests. She knew she wanted to work with a nonprofit organization specifically focused on art preservation, and she found herself a perfect fit: a position as a cultural tourism program intern at the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks.
At the society, where she focused mainly on marketing, Geri stumbled upon a unique marriage of preservation and another passion: learning history through the experiences of senior citizens.
As the cultural tourism program intern, she worked on a brochure and a mailer for the Philadelphia branch of the Road Scholar program, which encourages senior citizens to plan trips around the country and helps them in organizing their excursions.
Geri’s love of senior citizens grows not only from her curiosity about the past but also from her work in a nursing home and a special relationship with her grandmother.
When she was 16, Geri began working in a nursing home with her mother. The residents inspired her. She recalls one woman, Rose, who suffered from dementia, and her boyfriend, Art, who visited her each week.
“They would usually sit out in the lobby, and one time, Art started singing this really cute old love song from the ’40s or ’50s, and Rose sang along,” Geri recalled, her bright, aquamarine eyes lighting as a smile crossed her face.
Wherever the future takes her, Geri says her life will not be linear. One day, when the time feels right, she’ll have those symbolic F-holes filled in with ink.
“I’m always reinventing myself.”
– Morgan Zalot
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