Tegan Whitney is an undergraduate at Middlebury College. She worked as an intern in SITE’s Education and Outreach Department during the summer of 2015. Below she reflects on her experience at SITE upon completing her internship.
When I applied to be an intern at SITE Santa Fe, my main goal was exploratory in nature. While I have always loved art—both making it and learning about it—I was unsure that there actually existed “real” jobs in the arts that were possible, practical, and attainable. This is probably the greatest thing I have learned as an intern at SITE: a job in the arts can be not only practical, but significant and fulfilling as well. As an intern, it was perhaps surprising to be so thoroughly involved in all of the happenings at SITE; from learning the intricate workings of a museum to participating in the meetings with the artists, I have come to appreciate the holistic approach that SITE takes to art and community, as well as to understand the direct and meaningful effect a museum such as SITE can have.
A truly excellent aspect of my internship was the wide variety of projects that I worked on. For several weeks I worked with other interns and SITE guides on the installation of Ann Hamilton’s piece the common SENSE, which was a daunting but exhilarating project. I also worked significantly on archiving the past Young Curators exhibitions. I spent a large portion of my time creating a survey that served two purposes: To solidly quantify the impact that the program has had on the community and to explore possible improvements to the program. After the opening of the new exhibition, I also enjoyed working as a SITE guide out in the galleries.
Ultimately, when all of the smaller projects add up, I feel infinitely grateful for the general appreciation and knowledge that I have gained in relation to the museum and to the purpose of contemporary art as a whole. In particular, I felt that that the work we did in the Education and Outreach Department was useful in a direct and tangible way. It was valuable to learn that there are so many different ways to effect change, and that involving youth with art is one of the best.
Another aspect of my internship I had not anticipated was my increased understanding and appreciation of contemporary art and the ways it can relate to society and social change. Because of my initial lack of exposure to contemporary art, it has been invaluable learning the role this kind of art can play in our lives. The countless and unexpected conversations that I’ve had throughout my internship have been insightful and inspiring. Through these conversations I have developed a security in my opinions and interpretations in situations where I would have felt unsure before. During my internship I realized that the art, events, and programs at SITE Santa Fe aim to inspire these conversations, and that the interpretations that fuel these conversations exist within all of us. SITE has taught me that art is an incredible venue through which we can relate to each other on a deeper level.