MoAD: Viewer, Object, and Site [An essay]

by huntgathersemiotics

so i applied for this internship at the Sf Museum of the African Diaspora in September but didn’t get because I lived too far away. i’d just thought i’d share my responses to their interview questions for whoever would be interested in reading them.

I hope to apply again next year! Cheeeeers:

Application Questions for Public Programs Internship, Fall 2012

  1.  Why did you choose MoAD as your intern site?

My first reaction to this question would be because MoAD is a space for the reflection of cultural diversity. But if I would like to expand upon that:

For me, the significance of MoAD lies in its social responsibility as a museum space to encourage dialogue addressing our shared African heritage. This practice challenges the vitality and depth of visual culture:  visual culture becomes a collaborative process, a space of interconnection where cultural diversity awareness and understanding may emerge. For me, spaces like MoAD, allow new forms of freedom to emerge: an art for the people, by the people, and from the people. The structuring of MoAD’s exhibitions, interests me in particular:

  •  the ‘changing’ exhibitions provide a platform for the public to engage in specific dialogues of African Diaspora expression
  • the ‘permanent’ exhibitions encourage dialogue about the origins as well as transformations of the cultures, enculturations, and transculturations of the practices and beliefs of African descendants

Approaching museum space as a form of interactivity, cutting across age, culture, race, goes beyond the notion of a museum of a space as mere anthropological space for ‘looking’, and introduces more contemporary ways of being together, a feeling of the familial (family and community)—— this is what I value and seek in a museum space and why I specifically applied to MoAD

2. How do you define the African Diaspora?

My definitions for this question exist in plurality:

Poetically, I could define the African Diaspora as:

  • the social fabric between I, you, me, she, he, it, they, us , WE
  • or a Sacredness that is making a comeback here, there and everywhere.

In terms of Sociology and Post-Coloniality, I could define the African Diaspora as:

  • a modern project of life expression: involving an endless and continual assessing of subject-positioning, shifting cultural and social identities that resulted from the dispersal of Africans around the world.

3. Based on your experience working with youth, community, non-profits and organizations, what can you bring to creating family programming at MoAD?

While living and working in Sacramento, CA, I had the opportunity to work and/or volunteer for the following organizations:

  •  My Sister’s House (a local non-profit organization addressing the needs of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans who are survivors of domestic violence). Since 2010, I have worked with outreach at public events, completed Shelter Advocate Training to work in their women’s shelter, and helped with writing community reports of special projects at My Sister’s House.
  • I was a student assistant and a media intern at Sac State’s Multi-Cultural Center from 2010-present. Here I work with public programming in a college student setting with an emphasis on advocating programs and workshops that focus on developing student’s leadership skills, diversity, social justice and personal wellness. Specifically I worked on developing programming related to people of color LGBT activisms.
  •  From 2010-Feb 2012 I was also co-chair on the Scholarship committee for a Sac State organization called Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (M.E.Ch.A.)—- we developed materials  and planned events to raise money for annual college scholarships for undocumented High School seniors in the U.S.
  • I am currently becoming actively involved with LGBTQ rights organizations in Sacramento, specifically addressing the needs of LGBTQ youth in grade school.

As a result, my prior experience working for community non-profit organizations has inspired my passion for addressing the needs of diverse communities through the lens of social justice activism. Understanding the intersectionality of oppression (the politics of race, class and gender) interests me and shapes my life passion, both professionally, scholarly and artistically.   My experiences have facilitated my desire for addressing and improving cultural proficient services to address the needs of our cosmopolitan and modern communities. The study and appreciation of art, with the specific focus on family programming will give me the opportunity to expand my skills and help to create exciting, interactive programming with a bent toward social progress and social justice. I would like to specifically research and collaborate on programming that addresses the rich and diverse groups of people who play integral roles not only as Art’s audience, but also the role as local actors in our community. If given the opportunity, I would specifically be interested in research and development that would focus on LGBTQ family-related programming at MoAD.

4. How would you describe your network (colleagues, professors, professionals) in the Bay Area and beyond?

I have a solid and strong network of colleagues in the Sacramento area. I correspond on a regular basis with my professors, colleagues and program managers at Sacramento State. I also correspond on a semi-monthly basis with my managers at the non-profits for whom I volunteer. Although my close colleagues and professionals I know in the art field are mostly based in Sacramento, I definitely open to developing contacts and correspondences in the Bay Area.

Also, I when it comes to social network and interaction I would compare myself to a monthly electronic newsletter for the arts: I try to keep updated, attend, and participate on community events and programs (in Sacramento and the Bay Area) which in turn helps me to solidify, expand and strengthen my social network in the areas art and social justice-related community events. This practice also helps me challenge and strengthen my writing skills.

5. What skills (technical, writing, research) do you bring that would enhance the work being done at MoAD?

What I would like to share with MoAD is my personal skills of writing, research, art theory and art practice.  When I approach professional and scholarly work, I tend to study and engage in the practice of:

  • Questioning how we look/the politics of looking
  • Seeing Art as social process, an experience of looking
  • Studying Art as “the struggle over relations of representation” (Stuart Hall)
  • Writing to “appeal to the reader’s freedom to collaborate in the production of his/her work and paints the world only so that free men may feel their freedom as they face it” (Trinh T. Minh-ha)

At best, I would work to enhance the work being done at MoAD through my commitment to social justice and cross-cultural understanding. My background with addressing social justice issues in cross-cultural communities has allowed me to explore and expand the possibilities of being a critical thinker and translating critical thinking into practice. In terms of scholarship my critical art thinking practices are being continually challenged and strengthened by my studies in Art History, Art Studio Sculpture, and Film Studies. I am an avid reader of contemporary art history scholarship; and as a Public Programs Intern for MoAD, I will offer a unique set of eyes that are continually challenging the way we look at art and the dynamic interrelationship between viewer, object, and site