What was your major at CC?
Studio art with a concentration in photography and printmaking.
Why did you undertake this internship at the FAC?
I was in a Southwest archaeology class Block 8 of my freshman year, and our professor Esteban took us to the Fine Arts Center to look at their Native American collection. Michael Howell, FAC registrar, facilitated the tour. Michael opened a drawer of sacred fetishes and artifacts and explained the historical and spiritual importance of the items, and touched on the controversy over the museum housing these items. ‘How did the museum inherit them to begin with, and why do we still have them?’ To Native Americans, these objects held immense powers. A law was passed in the 1990’s that legally obligated museums to return such items. To me, the objects so obviously did not belong there. Regardless of whether you believe in their power, I believed that it was culturally insensitive to possess these kinds of objects that were used for sacred ceremonies and spiritual rituals. They likely had been stolen from Native American tribes or traded out of desperation. Something about it got me and I wanted to get involved. I was interested in the history and the potential for returning the objects, and of course the somewhat spooky and paranormal aspect of the power of these things intrigued me too. Seemed like a pretty unique opportunity. I got in touch with Michael and he encouraged me to undertake the challenge of repatriation.
What type of work did you do in your internship?
I was engaged in a number of different aspects of museum work. My main priority was the repatriation of the objects, but I also learned art-handling techniques and was able to work with some of the artists who had exhibitions. I was in charge of my project. I had to catalog all the items, photograph them, get in touch with officials of the Native American tribes, make presentations to the FAC Museum Committee, and keep in touch with those tribal members I got in touch with. I also led tribal members through a tour of the artifacts.
Did this internship benefit or enhance your academic experience? If so, how?
Yes, absolutely! It was learning by way of doing. I had to figure out how to go about this process while navigating in a new system. It added a new dimension to my college experience. Working with things, as opposed to learning about them from afar, is an essential part of learning. It was also incredibly fun and something I looked forward to.
Did the internship have an impact on your future career or academic aspirations?
To be determined! I think it must have, but I’m currently working at an architectural firm. I learned so much from Michael Howell, and can apply those workplace skills to any job I have. The initial interest that led me to the internship are still things I’m interested in. I’m sure it’ll surface again.
What advice, if any, would you have for current CC students who might be considering doing an internship?
Do it. But do it because you want to, not because you think you should (advice for deciding to do anything). I think the FAC program has so much to offer. The staff is awesome and the art you get to engage with firsthand is a truly unique experience. All internships add to your experience. No one regrets doing one. You either figure out you like something, or you may figure out you don’t. Both are valuable.