Brittany Godwin worked as an intern in SITE’s Education and Outreach Department during the spring of 2016. Below she reflects on her experience at SITE upon completing her internship.
When applying for internships I never would have thought that I would end up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I knew that I wanted to get out of North Carolina for my internship experience, so I applied to SITE Santa Fe. During my interview with SITE is when I knew that this is where I wanted to be an intern. Even though Santa Fe was my top choice, I didn’t think it was going to be possible to make the move in such short notice. Once I made up my mind everything fell into place, and I was on the road to Santa Fe.
I have had a great intern experience since day one. Most of my time at SITE has been spent in the education department. One of the first task that I was given was to research all of the artists for the upcoming biennial, SITElines, Much Larger Than a Line. For this year’s biennial there will be over thirty artists from over 10 different countries. This was a task that required a lot of time and reading. This research helped me learn more about the biennial and gain a wider range of knowledge on all the artists in the show. It was nice to find that some of the artists in my research have had exhibitions in North Carolina. For each artist I was required to write up short bio and find some article related to the work that will be in the biennial. Some of the artist in the show will be creating new works, so I just had to find articles that focused on previous works of the artists. I spent the first few weeks of my internship working on this research. Once the research was done, I had to begin working on putting all of this information into a study binder for the SITE guides. Also, another intern and myself had to create a slideshow for the biennial. This slideshow provide information and images for all the artists in the biennial.
The second week of my internship I had the opportunity to work with different school groups on SITE lab, Faces of Santa Fe, by artist Ben Haggard. Ben Haggard’s community/social-networking project consisted of portraits in Berlin, San Francisco, and Santa Fe. He began painting his friends and family and then asked them to get more people to come get a portrait. By the end of this project he painted nearly 800 portraits. Throughout the week students of all different age groups came to watch Haggard paint a live portrait and to create a self-portrait. Ben Haggard began by talking about his work, and then the students watched him paint a portrait of their teacher. While Haggard was painting the students began to draw their self-portrait. Not only was I able to watch an artist in action, I was able to work with children who were so enthusiastic to be at SITE.
Another task I was given was to create a layout for the SITE Scholars exhibition. SITE Scholars is one of the education programs at SITE that allows college students to create an artwork, and then they with have their own exhibition. During this process I created a check sheet that provided all the information of the artists and his or her work. This checklist helped me figure out which layout would work best for the space. This was a difficult task because I had not seen the work and some of the written descriptions were not very clear. Even though figuring out a layout was difficult, it was a fun project.
Throughout my time at SITE I attended the Young Curators meetings. Young Curators is a program that teaches high school student the curatorial side of the art experience. These students are encouraged to make decisions about every aspect of their exhibition. Every Wednesday I would attend the Young Curators meetings to assist Amanda. During these meetings the students review the artwork submission, applied for a grant, and had meetings with different SITE staff members. This Young Curators group was so enthusiastic about their exhibition. They had great input on the artwork submissions and have really selected some amazing work for their show. This is such a great program for high school students who know they want to pursue a career in an art museum.
I also had the opportunity to spend some of my time in the exhibition department. One of the most rewarding experiences I had was being able to work with such great artist. The first artist that I worked with was Jonathas De Andrade. He is a Brazilian photographer who will be participating in the upcoming biennial. His project will be focusing on the study of race and class. During his time at SITE, Andrade traveled to different community centers around Santa Fe and interviewed people of color. Andrade would ask these individuals about their feelings towards the issues of race and class. Being from Brazil, he was interested to hear how race and class were different in America. I was there to assist him with asking questions, have people fill out release form, and take notes from his interviews. It was a wonderful opportunity to work with an artist who is working with issues that people face everyday. Another artist that I had the opportunity to work with was Pablo Helguera. He is another artist who will be participating in the biennial. His time at SITE was spent interviewing historians who specialized in New Mexico history. I attended these meetings to take notes and record the interview. Helguera’s project will be focusing on the history of different racial groups in New Mexico. He will be creating a storefront that will consist of different artifacts that deal with the issues in New Mexico. Finally, I had the chance to assist Wangechi Mutu and Edgar Arceneaux with their installation. Their collaboration involved a lot of screen-printing, so the majority of my time I assist Edgar with the process of taping the silk screens and the walls. I also help with any other small task they needed done. Through this time I was able to learn many things about the artist I was working with and the materials they were using. I also had the opportunity to help with the install for WorkSHoP. During this install I worked on taping almost 900 images to the wall. Once the Preparators nailed the images to the wall, I attached tape to each image and stuck them to the wall. This was a long and tedious process. The final task I worked on in the exhibition department was for the SITE Unseen exhibition. SITE Unseen is an exhibition for the purpose of raising money for SITE. There were around 300 artists who create a small piece of art that will be sold for $300 and all the proceeds go to SITE. The artist names are not revealed to the buyer until after the sale is complete. For this show I cataloged the artwork that was submitted for the show and created labels for these works. This work may seem like petty work, but it helped Sage out a lot. The best thing about this task was I got to see the majority of the work and the artist of who created the work.
When I first arrived in Santa Fe I was a little overwhelmed with what I had done. Even though I knew this is where I needed to be I thought to myself, I am so stupid to think that I could move to New Mexico and be happy. The days were long and I was regretting my decision. Once I began to accept that I had to stick it out, I started to realize I made the best choice. I became friends with a fellow intern, Winoka, who really helped me enjoy what Santa Fe has to offer. Winoka is from New Mexico, so she knew all the good places to eat, and all the good sites to see. Not only was she there to help, but also the SITE staff was wonderful. My supervisors Joanne and Amanda were great. They were always there if I had any questions and helped me get through my time SITE. The rest of the staff was super nice and treated me like I was part of the SITE family. Even though there were times that I didn’t have much to work on, I had a great time at SITE. I felt that the work that I was given was helpful to the education and exhibition department. I enjoyed working on every task that I was given and gave a 100 percent.
Although I didn’t like Santa Fe when I first arrived, I came to enjoy my time there. Santa Fe has many things to offer someone my age and with an interest in art. SITE Santa Fe is located in the Railyard district of Santa Fe and the Railyard is filled with contemporary art galleries, restaurants, local favorites, and shopping. On my down time I was able to enjoy the sites in the Railyard, downtown Santa Fe, and the beautiful mountains. Once it warmed up, I was able to enjoy my time in Santa Fe a little better. Santa Fe reminded me a lot of Boone, so that helped me settle in.
My hope for this internship was to gain valuable and useful skills that would help me move forward with a career in an art museum. My goal is to work in a contemporary art museum and I have come to love contemporary art more since being at SITE Santa Fe. I had the chance to work with some incredible artists and a great staff. I believe SITE will open many doors for me in the future. Moving away from home has shown me that I am willing to move if I am offered a wonderful opportunity in another city.
Interning at SITE Santa Fe has been a great experience. I have not only gained experience, but also I have met some great people. Moving to Santa Fe was challenging at time, however it was worth every minute. SITE was a great museum that opened my eyes to the possibilities within a museum. I am very grateful for the opportunity to intern at SITE Santa Fe.