Yilin is a student at Wesleyan College. She worked at SITE in the Education Department as an intern during the summer of 2013. Here are her final reflections about her experience at SITE upon completing her internship.
During the summer in 2013, I worked as an intern at the Education Department of SITE. This experience has inspired my new understandings of contemporary art, work and even life. At the end of this three-month internship, SITE became a place that I did not want to leave.
One of the major projects I did in this summer was organizational work. Cooperating with the other two interns, Sophia and Kiersta, I sorted DVDs of SITE’s lecture series, cataloged books in the library, and grouped periodicals in the loft. SITE had a great collection of books and periodicals. Sorting items was a valuable opportunity to discover contemporary art in depth. I was able to know about what books and catalogues were referred to in order to curate exhibitions. I also found some art magazines that met my interest in the art market. During my breaks, I made a list of books and periodicals that would help me develop career plans and specific research goals in graduate school.
When reviewing SITE’s history, I was always curious about how SITE defined international characters of contemporary art and represented them in its past biennials. While cultural pluralism in art has become a hotspot in recent years, I was not able to deepen my insight of this topic inside colleges. In class discussions, my Chinese background was frequently emphasized. I was asked many questions about China but hardly got time to broaden my horizon to countries other than Europe and North America. Luckily, I came to SITE in the summer and did some research and library work that provided abundant information of international contemporary art.
I got a chance to research the history and culture of New Mexico before it became a territory of the United States. This research gave me an opportunity to explore a new area and its art without preconceptions. Meanwhile, when I was going through books in SITE’s library, I was impressed by SITE’s comprehensive studies of artists from Europe, Asia, and South America. The collection of catalogues of overseas biennials was also informative and interesting. After this summer, my comparative view of cultures has become much more enriched and objective. My experience at SITE was indeed a great critical thinking practice.
SITE has been making remarkable efforts to help interns with their careers. Learning opportunities at SITE were not limited in one single department or even inside the museum. Most of the time, I worked in the Education Department; sporadically, I offered a hand with Development, Public Programs and Special Events, and the financial departments, which gave me a chance to explore other roles in the workings of a museum..
Besides daily work, the Education Department organized the summer program for interns to develop an overview of vocations in the world of art. In this summer, we visited major galleries, the office of Radius Books, Lawrence Fodor’s studio and the backstage of the Santa Fe Opera House. Through these field trips, I realized the importance of interdisciplinary knowledge and multi-task capability in art related works. At the end of my internship, I got detailed and helpful feedback from my supervisor, Amanda Lee. Her evaluation and suggestions provided me new views of teamwork and creativity.
The friendly and creative atmosphere at SITE has made my learning experience significantly inspiring and playful. I spent some time at the front desk and exhibition galleries, which allowed me to discuss art with people from various backgrounds. I worked with other two interns to implement a new library software system. Although we were faced with many troublesome technical issues, the teamwork and problem-solving process provided us excitement and a sense of achievement. We had gained precious friendship through working together. On other occasions, I was taught how to make ‘zines and upload them to the online issue website. I was encouraged to write reviews of the summer program and current exhibitions, which deepened my appreciation for SITE’s contributions in promoting contemporary art and local community life.
This summer internship at SITE was my first internship at a non-profit art organization. SITE has given me so many unexpected benefits and precious memories. I believe SITE is one of the most innovative contemporary art museums in this county. Internships here would be great choices for students who are passionate and open-minded. Now I have gone back to my college and rejoined my old friends, but I cannot help constantly missing those exciting moments and all the wonderful people at SITE!