Skip to Content

September 10th, 2014

Intern Reflections: Diego Suarez

Wondering what to do with one’s summer is almost like choosing where to go on vacation, at least for me. I love going back home to Santa Fe whenever I have the chance to- mostly for the green chile. Summer 2014 was supposed to be spent away from home this time, in Seattle, looking for a job and enjoying the city. Instead however, the chair of the art department at my school encouraged me to go back home and intern at SITE Santa Fe. I had been a part of the Young Curator’s group at SITE when I was in high school so I thought it would be fun to go back and so I did just that and had one of the most enriching and impactful experiences there.
I was at first working with the Exhibitions department (with David and Sage) to prepare the massive space for the upcoming biennial show Unsettled Landscapes. Many of my co-workers would joke about how I was working in the most “unglamorous environment”, because of all the paint and hardware covering the floors, but I found it glamorous to be a contributor to the preparation of an exciting new show, to be in a stimulating environment, to learn new things. How many times do people get to say, “Hey! I helped paint that wall in that museum!”. In addition to preparing the space, I helped move all the artwork for the show in, most of which were in large crates. Keith taught me how to properly paint walls for a pristine look and David showed me how to use a lot of the tools that I never would have imagined myself using. I learned to not wear nice clothes while working as a preparator, a lesson I’ll carry on in the future. My favorite part of working with Exhibitions was seeing artist Miler Lagos work on his commission for the show. As an art student, it was very inspiring to see an incredible artist at work and to be working behind the scenes for an upcoming show and to see and experience all the hard work that goes into a large group show.
Opening weekend for Unsettled Landscapes was also a highlight as I got to meet many of the artists and I experienced my first shift as a SITE Guide. Being a guide was my shift on to the Education department. As an avid museum goer, I never imagined myself to ever be a guide in a museum but there I was, and let me tell you, I really enjoyed it a lot! As a SITE Guide, I met a lot of very interesting visitors from all over the globe, of all walks of life. I even met and had a lovely conversation with the father of one of the artists in the show and also with a photojournalist who worked with Agnes Denes in the past. In my spare time when there were no visitors around, I had the pleasure of experiencing the works in the show and learning about the processes. It was dreamy to be around so many powerful works and to absorb all the work in. It was also a pleasure to be a part of the installations in the show, from playing Monte card games in Pablo Helguerra’s piece to working Jason Middlebrook’s general store and getting to enhance the experience of visitors. My last two weeks interning in the Education department were spent researching and writing about Suzanne Lacy and Elizabeth Sackler as well as finding organizations in town to invite to their conversation as part of SITE’s My Life In Art series.
As strange as it might sound, I considered SITE Santa Fe to be a little home away from home because everyone was so lovely to be around. The SITE Guides, with whom I worked with most, all became friends. Amanda and Joanne were my supervisors and were always encouraging, friendly, and role models to look up to. David and Sage were my supervisors for my time with Exhibitions and I learned a lot from them. I loved that the staff would tell us about their backgrounds and their journey to becoming department heads at SITE. It’s always so fulfilling to hear about the way people got to where they are now. The most valuable lesson I got out of hearing their stories is that you can never plan out your entire life, and great things happen out of a passionate pursuit.
I am happy to be able to brag about my amazing time at SITE to all my friends and to apply my experiences to school at Cornish College of the Arts, where I study photography, video, and painting in the hopes of exhibiting work in the future. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll have a piece at SITE and remember my 20 year old self that was interning and day dreaming about exhibiting there. Thank you to all the staff at SITE for making it such a profound experience, and I encourage anyone that is reading this to apply. This has opened many doors to me and I am considering a future in museum studies post undergrad.