Thursday, June 9, 2011

Co-Curating an Exhibition ("Images of Haiti")

With the campus officially reaching its dormant period between Spring and Fall semesters, now seems to be a pretty good time to tell you about the exhibition I co-curated at Cal State Northridge (CSUN).

This spring, I was part of a museum studies class that was given full reign of the exhibition space in the Oviatt Library’s lobby area. Dr. Polk supervised, and provided us with the theme and collection materials, but ultimately it was my name as well as those of my classmates that were credited with its creation and installation.

The exhibition is titled “Images of Haiti: Selections from the Dolores Yonker Collection,” which sounds pretty self-explanatory. More specifically, it features art by Dolores Yonker, a former CSUN art history chair, who passed away in 2008; it also includes art and ceremonial objects from Haiti, illustrating Yonker’s own interests in Haitian Vodou and everyday village life.

With about twenty students responsible for one project, I'm sure you can imagine how chaotic the process was; and yet, only a handful really put some time into it. Personally, I worked with two other students in reading all of Yonker’s journals (so much of it too colorful and/or personal to include in the exhibition), as well as being part of the object selection process and designing all the graphic designs used in the exhibition (e.g. title poster, ceiling banners, web art, and brochure). It was a lot of work, but it’s extremely satisfying to see it all on public view, in the end. I’m proud of the result that the class and I put together, and I hope you (gentle reader) will find the time to witness it.

About getting there:

CSUN is located at 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330.

If you are unfamiliar with CSUN’s parking situation, basically you have the choice of parking on campus ($6) or on the street, anywhere nearby. During the summer, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding street parking.

Once on campus, head for the Oviatt Library, located in the center of CSUN. There are some maps along the pathways if you get lost, and once you’re anywhere on the center lawn, it should become pretty obvious. Just head up the stairs, and the exhibition will be on the left side, as well as in the room where the “down” escalator ends. (Note: You can begin viewing its contents at any point, but it technically begins near the Reference Room end.)

Some links to further illuminate:

Please let me know what you think, or if I can answer any questions!

UPDATE: I noticed there are no longer any informational brochures at the exhibition. I can provide a .PDF of it, if anyone asks.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

To Bennington & Back Again

In anticipation of my thesis project, I've been taking pictures of tourist centers, collecting brochures, noting word uses in travel articles, and gathering other bits of information here and there, over time and while in the middle of vacations, family excursions, day trips, and other situations that take me to any place remotely touristy. This has been going on for a few years, actually - before I was even certain I'd be working towards an M.A.

Late last Monday, I got back from Bennington, Vermont, where I did very little of all that. I was visiting to attend my sister’s graduation at Bennington College, and when we weren’t attending graduation-related events, we were mostly packing or killing time in-between.

The last time I visited (about two years ago), we spent a little time in traveling. In two days, we visited Hildene (President Lincoln’s son’s home in Manchester), Boston, and Salem. We also went out of our way to find a small cheese shop, which required driving on a dirt road for almost an hour to find an almost microscopic town (we got there ten minutes before closing). We explored Boston by foot, at night; and Salem was an illuminating encounter – never before had Halloween seemed to extend past October so successfully. Our experiences ranged from historic to whimsical and cheesy. At the time of my visit, I was part of an Anthropology seminar on Witchcraft, and I used my time in Salem to talk to a couple shopkeepers in a pagan shop. When I returned, I had a little more information to add to a paper I was working on, and I also used some photos from the day to present to the class, showing how Salem uses its history and pop-cultural status to create an identity that is presented to visitors. (Perhaps I'll share those photos, later.)

During my visit, and while I was compiling the photos for class, I started to seriously consider how this sort of identity formation in places could contribute to my future research.

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Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say for now. Between the previous paragraph and this one, I drove to LAX and back, and now it’s late and I’m too tired to go on, so I’ll leave it at that. More on those points later.

(For now, here’s a picture I took looking down from the top of the Bennington Battle Monument, which rather looks like a miniature scene. After that: an actual miniature scene, from a display case on the first floor of the Monument.)