1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

1780 | The Official Blog of Transylvania University

Transylvania alumnus and artist stays connected to his alma mater through Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon

Image of Josh Porter in front of the campus library

Despite his small-town origins, Josh Porter ’19 always knew that city life was right for him. 

“When I was looking at colleges, I only applied to Transylvania,” he said. “I always knew I wanted to live in a city, so Transy’s location truly was perfect. It was right downtown and close to everything.” 

Originally from Grayson, Kentucky, Porter initially learned about Transylvania through his uncle and fellow Transy grad, Chris Arnett ’91.

The university’s liberal arts emphasis was also ideal for Porter as an undecided first-year student. Initially a business management major, he remembers trying out multiple majors before taking a class with Emily Goodman, associate professor of art history.

Thanks to Porter’s immediate connection with Goodman — “I ended up taking all of her classes,” he laughed — he decided to declare a major in art history, ultimately adding a studio art major to his portfolio as well. 

With a burgeoning interest in art, Porter took advantage of Transylvania’s location to get into the city’s art scene. “I got into Gallery Hop very early on because it was such an easy way to explore downtown and see galleries,” he said. 

While Lexington doesn’t have a large art museum on par with the Speed Art Museum in Louisville or the Cincinnati Art Museum, Porter noted that the city compensates with a high number of smaller art galleries. “They are actually more accessible for artists and curators like myself to work in,” he added. 

After graduating from Transy, Porter stayed put in Lexington, beginning his MFA in curatorial studies at the University of Kentucky in fall 2020. While there, he secured an internship with the Faulkner Morgan Archive, a local organization dedicated to sharing Kentucky’s LGTBQ history.

“The archive typically has two interns, one for social media and one for collections,” said Porter, noting that he filled both roles during his internship. While learning about processing and collections, Porter also planned the archive’s social media, made and scheduled social media posts, and scanned photos from the collection. He drew upon his time as a student worker in the Transylvania Office of Marketing and Communication, where he ran the university’s Snapchat account and created GIFs for the department.

In October 2023, Porter became the first full-time employee at Faulkner Morgan Archive, where he serves as the assistant executive director with funding from a Mellon Foundation grant. With time to consider programming and potential collaborations for the archive, Porter approached his former professor to see if Transylvania would be interested in partnering with the Faulkner Morgan Archive for the seventh annual Transylvania Liberal Arts + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon. 

Initially brought to Transylvania by Goodman and Kerri Hauman, Transylvania associate professor of writing, rhetoric and communications, the Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon is a worldwide project encompassing community events that encourage people with or without prior editing experience to participate in collaboratively editing Wikipedia. The Transylvania Liberal Arts + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon provides participants with training materials, research guidance and snacks.

A veteran of Transy’s event, Porter was excited to connect the archive with his alma mater to amplify the stories of LGBTQIA+ Kentuckians on Wikipedia. “I went to the very first one as a student,” he said, noting that he enjoys editing Wikipedia outside of the annual event. This year’s collaboration between Transy and the Faulkner Morgan Archive netted impressive outcomes — “We edited 58 articles with 62 editors, and we’ve had 1.36 million article views so far.” 

Porter credits the interdisciplinary aspect of his liberal arts education for his professional success. “So much of what I do in my life and practice depends so much on English and writing,” he said. “Making sure you have a solid base of knowledge will forever make your life easier.”

He also credited the compromise innate in selecting a theme for his senior show in concert with five other seniors as an experience that helped him develop his curatorial practice, as well as the event planning skills he honed as the Delta Sigma Phi service chair.  

And he still considers himself to be a city dweller. “I loved Transy’s location so much that, after eight years, I still live right downtown,” he laughed.