Spring 2016 was a major period of personal artistic awakening as I came to understand what, exactly, I wanted to do with my career as an artist—and an activist. Prior to Spring Break, I had a brief conversation with my professor, Kenn von Roenn, about the internship I wanted to do during the Summer session in the Public Art and Architectural Art Program. We discussed my goals, and once I explained my personal desire to use my art to foster social change through public education, he said he wanted me to work with City as Living Lab (CaLL), directed by Mary Miss. Mary’s organization combines the knowledge of a number of different professionals and community members to create interactive, informational events and allow people to understand their community and its environmental history more intimately. By its nature, CaLL’s work is highly social and diverse, and I am fortunate to have been given the opportunity to observe one form of socially engaged art, from its establishment, organization, and realization.
During my time at CaLL, I was responsible for working with contact information within our database and on the website. Such responsibilities included printing and compiling materials for mailers and inputting updated information of each of our contacts, board members, and donors. I learned three of the most important applications to maintain an organized working environment: Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, and FileMaker Pro. I spent the days I was not working, on lynda.com, learning the intricacies of each of these programs, particularly FileMaker Pro, an essential application for non-profits. Though the learning process was gradual, it was important for me to face the challenge of being patient with myself in order to become familiar with the aspects of running a non-profit.
Being a part of CaLL enabled me to more clearly envision my own future working with non-profit organizations, keeping a personal studio, creating businesses, and engaging communities with my art. Mary’s team made me aware of other art/activist events and groups in New York City that brought out a greater creativity in my approaches to addressing social issues through art and education, and inspired me to revise and develop my thesis over the summer. Working with Mary and her team continuously drove me to become better as a collaborator and an artist through personal research and involvement, and I guarantee that my experiences, even just partway through my internship, has benefitted me immensely. I hope to maintain connections with Mary and the team, following their work, helping them after the summer in any way they see fit, and possibly collaborating and/or sharing ideas with them in the future.