Meet a Roadrunner: Blair Salt is shedding light on an ancient culture
(May 17, 2017) -- Meet Blair Salt '17. She's digging into ancient cultures after earning her master's degree at UTSA.
A San Antonio native, Salt discovered her love for prehistoric art as a high school student in her first art history class. She initially believed she wanted to be an archaeologist, which led her to earn her undergraduate degree in that area from Texas State University. While she enjoyed her studies, she eventually realized she wasn't quite doing what she loved.
"I went to field school in Belize," Salt said. "It was fun, but it was a lot of difficult, manual labor. At that point, I wasn't sure if I could sweat and dig in the jungle every summer."
After realizing she needed to explore more career possibilities, Salt nabbed an internship with the San Antonio Museum of Art and spent her last undergraduate semester working there. Feeling that she'd found her true calling working in a museum, she completed her degree and began pursuing jobs in that field, without success.
"I had a few jobs writing proposals for various companies," she said. "I found out fairly quickly that museums wouldn't hire me to do the kind of job I wanted to do unless I had a master's degree."
Already aware of UTSA's top-tier anthropology program, Salt sought out faculty in that department to explore the possibility of graduate school. After speaking with them about her interest in ancient art, she was steered toward Juliet Wiersema, assistant professor of art history.
"Dr. Wiersema's expertise is in that crossover between archaeology and art history," Salt said. "After speaking with her, I knew I wanted to earn my master's in art history at UTSA."
After enrolling in the program, she found immense support from her professors, which was especially welcome as she was balancing a full-time job with graduate school.
"It was difficult, but I was able to make it work," Salt said. "UTSA really sets you up for success, no matter your situation."
Eventually, she became a full-time student to take advantage of UTSA's vibrant campus life and internship opportunities, as well as a study abroad trip to Peru that Wiersema suggested Salt take part in.
It was in Peru that Salt fell in love with an archaeological site known as Cerro Sechín, which possibly dates to as early as 2100 BC and was built by a largely mysterious ancient culture. Her graduate thesis is focused on a stone frieze covered in images of human bodies, adorned figures, internal organs and disembodied heads.
"The more I looked at it, the more I realized that it raised so many questions," she said. "I thought, 'How are people not talking about this?'"
What's especially exciting to Salt is that the site might be part of the earliest state in Peru, but it's not more widely understood in her field, mainly because much of the information is difficult to access and is available only in Spanish.
"What I'm working on is miniscule compared to what could be done," she said. "Above all, I want to bring awareness to this site and set the stage for future scholarship."
Salt, who graduated earlier this month, hopes to work in a San Antonio museum.
"I don't know what I would have done if I didn't have the support of my professors," she said. "They want you to succeed in your classes, but they also want to set you up for a bright future. It's been a very moving experience."
Do you know a Roadrunner who is achieving great things? Email us at email@example.com so that we may consider your suggestion for our next installment of Meet a Roadrunner.
De-stress during Finals Week with UTSA Libraries' Relaxation Stations, located at John Peace Library on the second floor, and at the Downtown Library. The Relaxation Stations will include puzzles, coloring and more from Dec. 6-Dec. 14.John Peace Library, second floor and Downtown Library, Main and Downtown Campuses
This UTSA student exhibit features the work of anthropology students who have examined the effects tourism has on local culture.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
Students from grades 9 to 12 at Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering delved into their family histories and turned their family photos into artworks.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
One of UTSA’s most memorable traditions when hundreds of Roadrunners will receive their class rings. Before the rings arrive at UTSA, however, they make a special stop to spend a night in Texas’ most iconic landmark, the Alamo.H-E-B Student Union Ballrooms (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
The first ceremony begins at 10 a.m. honors graduates from the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, College of Business, College of Education and Human Development and College of Public Policy.Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio
At 4 p.m., the second ceremony will be held to honor graduates from the College of Engineering, College of Liberal and Fine Arts, College of Science and the University College.Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio
The annual event features authentic foods, music, dance, martial arts, shopping, games and entertainment from China, to the Indian Sub-continent, and the island nations of the Pacific. The Festival features two stages, a martial arts demonstration area, children’s hands on crafting area, anime activities, bonsai and ikebana displays, mahjong table and more.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
UTSA Day is an Open House and one of the best ways to see what it is like to be part of the UTSA Family! Schedule a visit the way you want, based on your interests and time. Learn more about the next steps on becoming a Roadrunner!Various locations, Main Campus