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May 25th, 2016

Internship Reflections: Madeleine Sardina

Maddy Sardina is studying creative writing at Santa Fe University of Art and Design. She worked as an intern in SITE’s External Affairs Department during the spring of 2016. Below she reflects on her experience at SITE upon completing her internship.

My internship at SITE Santa Fe has been an incredibly beneficial educational experience. As an External Affairs intern, I was able to interact with every department in some way or another to prepare for events and inform the public about what SITE has been doing for the past few months and into the summer. I helped with events and various projects that all showed me the different aspects that go into running a nonprofit art museum. With the final installment of the 20/20 exhibit and the unveiling of SITE’s plans for the future in the workSHoP exhibit, as well as special events like SITE Unseen 9 and the planning of the summer biennial, I really had a great chance to see the uniqueness of SITE.

In the External Affairs department specifically, I was able to try my hand at creating press releases and press clippings, posting events online, and helping with grant applications. I have been curious about the goings on of an institution such as SITE and how the inner workings function, and these tasks were perfect in showing me how that happened. Creating press clippings was interesting because I had no idea that institutions paid such close attention to the press they received or how important it was to save the press clippings to be gathered later when needed. I learned that one of the reasons this is so important is to reference for grant applications. One of the projects I was a part of was to create a bibliography with active links to all the international press coverage of SITE’s 2014 biennial exhibition in order to show how relevant SITE is, and particularly the biennial, outside the United State and to big name publications such as the New York Times. Creating press releases is also a helpful skill I developed here at my internship. I was unaware of the process and information on a press release, so being shown the templates used at SITE and making a few myself is very valuable knowledge. Also posting upcoming events online, which I worked on for a few days and have been continuously updating throughout my internship, was interesting to see and to learn how that information was disseminated.

Because of my position in the office, I was often called upon by other departments to help with minor and major projects. The Development department especially always had good jobs, such as stuffing envelopes to send to donors and members or preparing for events such as the members opening in March. Stuffing and labeling envelopes was a good task to keep me busy while also informing me about how SITE asks for and receives money from donors. Helping with the members opening, however, was much more exciting. It really showed me the impact SITE has on the Santa Fe community. Seeing so many people who donate to keep SITE healthy and happy simply so they can appreciate the exhibitions was enlightening. It was also interesting to see the attention to detail and work that went into an event such as that. The support from local vendors giving their food and service, the socializing and networking done during the event by the SITE staff, and the all around collaboration and support between the artists, staff, and community all in the name of art.

Possibly my favorite project that I was able to work on – though it was a close contest – was the El Otro Lado zines with which Brandee Caoba in the Exhibitions department asked me to help. Not only was it relevant to my interests, as I want to go into publishing and zines have become a prominent publishing medium, but it was a good insight into the positivity caused by art and more specifically SITE within the local community. The EOL zines were put together by SITE in collaboration with the Academy for the Love of Learning. They are filled with the artwork of students at Santa Fe public schools, from elementary schoolers to high schoolers. While I was putting together the zines, I had the privilege of looking through the kids’ journal pages where they had written poems, drawn self portraits, and just had fun with art. Seeing the good SITE and projects like this do within the Santa Fe community was uplifting and inspiring.

I first became interested in SITE after a field trip with my Creative Nonfiction class last semester. It was my first time at SITE and I was immediately swept off my feet. I loved the art, the atmosphere, the building, everything about it. The fact that I was able to intern here this semester has truly been a blessing. I am grateful for everything I have learned here, the positive work environment, and the unique experiences I have gained. My time at SITE, I am sure, has given me skills and understanding that I will carry with me throughout my professional career.