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May 10th, 2013

Internship Reflections: Diana Padilla

Diana is a student of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. She has worked at SITE, in the Education Department, as an intern for three months from January 22nd – April 26th, 2013. Here are her final reflections about her experience at SITE upon completing her internship.

Interning with the Department Education and Public Programs has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I have ever had in my academic life. I feel now that I have broader knowledge about what the art world is and how an institution of contemporary art, such as SITE Santa Fe, properly functions.

In these three months I have learned that each and every element of the staff is essential for everything to work in a satisfactory manner. Every staff member makes a significant contribution to the overall quality of such an important place like this. One of the most important experiences I had during my time at SITE was realizing that art actually can change lives and transcend the limits imposed by our society. This happens not only thanks to the general ideals of this institution, but specifically through the work of the Education Department that strives to spread culture and art so effusively at all possible levels.

Recently I had the opportunity to be part of a new art program at the Santa Fe County Juvenile Detention Center. The program consisted in going once a week to the center to give the incarcerated youths projects based on the art performances of Linda Mary Montano. We choose the Piñata Project. Everyone created an individual heart-shaped piñata and filled them with positive affirmations. This project was also completed with high school students from local high schools. I was able to help with the creation of a Zine that consisted images of the students in the process of the project and text written by them about their experiences with the project. This was my favorite part of the whole internship because I got to see with my own eyes how inspired by art the students were. They got to forget every problem they had and be influenced by power of art. I felt really inspired by these kids and it moved me in a way that I had never felt before.

I also helped in the creation of the gallery guide for the Young Curators’ exhibition Phantasmagoria and with the Dream Journal, a Zine for their show, where they decided to use dream submissions they received from all kinds of people. I think this was an interesting way to be creative and promote their show at the same time.

Another aspect of the internship that I really enjoyed was researching and writing about artists and their art work, like Douglas Huebler, Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan, Sol LeWitt, and Ger van Elk among others. By doing this I got to know the current show’s artwork and to practice my writing and editing skills. I was able to research, engage and learn about the State of Mind exhibition, as well as the other two important shows, Always Creative from Linda Mary Montano and Time, People, Money, Crickets from Mungo Thomson. I was also honored to meet Mungo and Linda in person and listen to them talk about their work.

SITE got me engaged with more projects that not only involved art, but also involved health and social action. Thanks to the Linda Mary Montano exhibition and her piece Anorexia Nervosa I helped research eating disorders to educate high school students about the functioning of the gastric system and proper nutrition. Also because of the power of the State of Mind exhibition, I not only learned a lot about conceptual art in the 70s but also contributed to another research project about how art impacts society and can affect it in a positive way.

The Education Department organized meetings with very important members of the staff so they could talk to us about how they keep a successful art space like SITE running, how non-profit organizations work, what their jobs consist of, and their professional career experience overall. It was all interesting and informative, and they were willing to answer all of our questions. I feel extremely thankful for this experience because my expectations were completely met and all my questions answered. This will be very helpful information for me that will help me while pursuing the career I want in the future by giving me an idea of how it should be done.

I could never thank SITE enough for the incomparable learning and growing experiences I had in these last few months. I feel like a completely different person with higher goals and more confidence. I thank my supervisors for being so caring, for giving me such beautiful and interesting projects, and for introducing me to such an amazing environment. I will take this experience with me always. This has been a groundbreaking and transcendent moment for my future and my career.