Andrew Wang

librarianship, life, etc.

Summer 2017 Updates

I graduated back in May with my MA in Art History and my MLS. By the middle of the semester I thought I was stumbling through the finish line, but all of the work I did earlier in my program ended up really paying off in the end. I’ll be starting my position as the 2017-2018 Kress Fellow at Yale in a month and I could not be more excited. Not to downplay my own efforts, but everything seems to be slowly falling into place.

At the risk of sounding selfish, I’m leaving Indiana University at the “right time.” The Fine Arts Library has officially closed (IU likes to say that it’s “moving,” but the windowless new space on the 9th floor of the main library is not the same).  The Eskenazi Museum of Art has temporarily closed for renovations (due to reopen in a few years). It all feels so… conclusive? I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work so closely with the collections and staff in both the library and the museum for the entire duration of my program.

I’ll be attending a Rare Book School course next week at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville to help establish a historical context for my interest in contemporary zines. Otherwise I’m taking time to decompress and take advantage of life without constant coursework. I plan on diving right back into career development after my move to New Haven. I’m hoping to adapt my master’s essay, “The Spatial Politics of Ephemerality: Queer(core) Cruising in J.D.s,” for publication by the end of 2018. In the more immediate future, I’m working on creating a list of the “Most Notable Graphic Novels Published in 2016,” to be informally published by the ARLIS/NA Graphic Novels Special Interest Group. Hopefully this will become an annual tradition that will assist (art) librarians in starting/developing their own graphic novel/comic collections. I’d also love to attend this year’s Zine Librarians (un)Conference in Long Beach if I have the time/funds. I had the opportunity to serve on the POC Travel Grant committee this year so I’d especially like to meet our grant recipients!

I am so fortunate to have found a career that I love so much, and I have my numerous mentors to thank for that. I’ve had so many amazing opportunities because of them. I hope that I can serve that role in some capacity for MLS students in the future. Super excited to start this next chapter of my life ~

ARLIS/NA 2017 and ‘Fountain at 100’

How am I still standing? I can’t seem to stop taking on new projects.

I dove straight into this semester with almost no break from the fall semester, which was filled with just as much work. It does seem, however, that my work is becoming progressively more aligned with my personal interests. I’ve paid my dues, so to speak, and now I’m getting to pursue some long-term projects. I’m especially excited to get started on my data visualization project in my Digital Humanities course, which will involve a fairly extensive perpetually-beta network graph focusing on the legacy of Marcel Duchamp. I’m also independently pursuing a podcast/blog called Schematics that will include interviews with–and profiles of–MFA students and their related events. My network graph proposal was just approved for my final project and my first podcast interview is coming up next week, so I’ll be posting more about these projects as they develop.

Before really starting these projects, I attended the annual ARLIS/NA conference in New Orleans earlier this month. As I previously mentioned, I had the opportunity to coordinate and moderate the meeting for the Graphic Novels Special Interest Group. We had a discussion about a potential name change for the group so that we could be more inclusive. The group seemed fairly receptive to the idea, so the group’s Co-Coordinator and I are in talks about how to proceed. We also discussed the possibility of creating an annual “Top 10 Graphic Novels” list for the benefit of librarians who want to start or strengthen their institutions’ collections but aren’t sure where to begin. We just developed a small “task force,” so I hope to get the ball rolling on this. We’re thinking about a retroactive 2016 list first, since the end of 2017 is pretty far off. I think this could be a really great way for the group to reach out to the greater community. We also had three really great presentations by Caitlin McGurk (Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum & Library), Chris Harter (Amistad Research Center), and Aime’ Lohmeyer (New Orleans Public Library) with two members of the New Orleans Comics and Zine Fest (NOCAZ). I wish we had more time to follow-up with discussion, but I’m glad we got to hear from such a diverse group of librarians to talk about their unique collections/projects.

Me standing in front of my poster presentation at ARLIS/NA 2017.

Putting up our poster presentation at ARLIS/NA 2017

As the former President of the Society of Art Librarianship Students (check out the SALS Facebook page here), I also co-presented a poster called “Reciprocal Relationships: Student Organizations and Professionals” with Kendra Werst, the current President. We detailed the extensive activity of our group in the past year and a half, providing ideas for both students and professionals to pursue similar activities. We invited conference attendees to contribute their own ideas to our poster, which we’ve compiled into a Google Doc where members can continue to add their own ideas (we’ll also be presenting this at VRA’s upcoming annual conference, so we hope to add even more). We got some really fantastic feedback so I hope it helps facilitate more student-professional collaborations. I spent the rest of the conference popping around from session to session. I was also overjoyed to reunite with so many folks I met at last year’s conference, especially since so many of us have relocated in the past year. As the recipient of this year’s William C Bunce Travel Award, I’ve provided a little more information about my experience at the conference in the upcoming ARLIS/NA Midstates newsletter (the newsletter will be posted on the Midstates website soon). Honestly, I think that formulating my pages of notes from the conference sessions into a single blog post would take more time than I can afford right now.

Me presenting to the public by Marcel Duchamp's 'Fountain'

My Noon Talk presentation for “Out of the Box: The Legacy of the Readymade”

In other news, I also co-curated a special installation at the Eskenazi Museum of Art called Fountain at 100–featuring works by Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Cornell, Man Ray, Louise Nevelson, Lucas Samaras–in celebration of the centennial of Duchamp’s Fountain (check out the museum’s blog post about Fountain at 100 here). We are one of three museums in the world to have a complete set of the 1964 edition of Duchamp’s readymades, so it really was a privilege to be so involved in this project. Having grown up in Philadelphia and frequented the Duchamp collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art throughout my time at Temple University, I would have never thought I’d have the opportunity to co-curate his work. Only three years ago I was fresh out of college and working as a waiter at my parents’ restaurant; I can’t describe how humbled I am by this opportunity. In conjunction with the installation, I was interviewed by the local radio station WFIU (I cringe at hearing my own voice, but you can listen to the interview here), and I presented a public Noon Talk called “Out of the Box: The Legacy of the Readymade,” which focused on the concept of curation-as-art-making. I was highly influenced by Elena Filipovic’s recent publication On the Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp (2016), but I honed in on the variety of concepts for which readymades and assemblages became vessels in the works of Cornell, Nevelson, and Samaras.

I think I’ll end here because I have a lot ahead of me this weekend (and this semester, really). I could keep writing but this post would just dissolve into a stream of consciousness.

 

Winter 2016-2017 Updates

Display case with posters and description text for a collection of Occuprint posters at Indiana University.

Occuprint display at Indiana University’s Fine Arts Library (fall 2016)

2016 was rough. After facing a lot of personal issues over the summer I immediately leaped straight back into work at the Fine Arts Library as a graduate supervisor, as well as into a new internship position as a Visual Resources Assistant. I had the opportunity to develop a deaccession policy for the slide collection, as well as digitize and edit hundreds of slides to prepare them for uploading to Shared Shelf. I also took a week to attend the Summer Educational Institute in Chapel Hill, and then I attended the Zine Librarians (un)Conference in Boston at the end of July. I also landed a position with the Auxiliary Library Facility Internal Processing Department for a few extra hours of work for the end of the summer. After forgoing an actual vacation, I started the fall semester with a new internship as a Cataloging Assistant at the Lilly Library, where I was responsible for retrospective conversion (both copy and creating original OCLC records), as well as cataloging the 2016 Miniature Book Society Competition’s submissions and some artists’ books. At the Fine Arts Library, I installed another exhibition, this time on a recently acquired collection of Occuprint posters from the Occupy Movement. Additionally I worked on the first iteration of my masters essay, which I have decided to focus on queer utopias and the queercore zine J.D.s. It was a big shift from my undergraduate focus on colonial Latin American art, but after meeting our new contemporary art specialist in the art history department and working with modern art as an assistant in the art museum’s Department of European and American Art, I think I’ve been converted to a modernist. After curating a Josef Albers installation last semester, I was invited by my supervisor to co-curate an exhibition to celebrate the centennial of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain. We’ll start installation at the beginning of next semester, and my “Noon Talk” on the exhibit will be in February.

After hibernating for a couple days, I’m finally picking up steam again during this winter break to prepare for some big projects in the upcoming semester. On top of job applications, I’m hoping to launch a new podcast about the MFA studio students here at Indiana University. I see this as a great opportunity to archive and create content about emerging artists. Information about these formative years is always so sparse. Not to blow my project’s potential out of proportion, but I think this could be a useful tool for contemporary art researchers. It would additionally help provide more web exposure for student work, and help connect them to library resources. Since our Fine Arts Library is currently without a Head, I will be pursuing this project independently (with support from the Society of Art Librarianship Students) but hope to transform this into a library project wherever I end up landing a job. More information on this soon (I hope)! With the assistance of some very generous travel awards, I will also be attending both ARLIS/NA 2017 and VRA 2017. I will be co-presenting a poster titled “Reciprocal Relationships: Student Organizations and Professionals” with Kendra Werst, current president of the Society of Art Librarianship Students, at both conferences. I’ll also be moderating and organizing the Graphic Novels Special Interest Group meeting at ARLIS since my co-coordinator (the group’s founder) won’t be able to attend this year (more information on the Graphic Novels SIG meeting will be added here).

It’s been especially tough to move on in this field with the impending closing of the Fine Arts Library here (and without the immediate support of an art librarian at IU), but there’s so much I’ve gained through this whole process (though I actually went through the stages of grief throughout the fall semester). If anything, I tend to excel with minimal supervision, and this has challenged me to forge my own career path with whatever resources I could find. At the very least, I’m excited to be done with graduate school (at least for a while).

 

Zine Librarians (un)Conference 2016

I recently attended the annual Zine Librarians (un)Conference in Boston this past weekend, which was held on July 29-30 at Simmons College. In addition to the relief of getting out of Bloomington for the weekend, I loved attending this (un)conference. Though I also enjoyed attending ARLIS/NA + VRA’s joint conference back in March, there was something more exciting and intimate about this gathering. For one, I didn’t know anyone else attending this (un)conference since zines are such a niche (and marginalized) subject matter in librarianship (and especially in academic librarianship). This was also my first time attending an “(un)conference,” so I was nervous about what I could contribute to the impromptu scheduling and more discussion-based sessions. In the end I think I prefer the informality of the (un)conference over more conventional lecture-style sessions, which tend to feel too authoritarian.

Attendees at the Zine Librarians (un)Conference 2016 at Simmons College

Zine Librarians (un)Conference 2016

This is a relevant consideration for me as a student because of the power dynamics that are already established by my status in the field (i.e. not a professional). It takes a concerted effort on my part to convince myself that I am worthy of mingling with seasoned veterans, that my opinion counts for something (forthcoming post on more detailed issues related to the mistreatment of grad students). At ZLuC, however, librarians from all backgrounds (academic, “barefoot,” etc.) and fellow students all felt like colleagues to me. And though there were obviously some more experienced attendees, they made it clear that novel ideas and feedback were extremely important for progress. There was a mutual respect that was naturally established from the very start; fellow attendees pointed out that etiquette rules and the like were not even necessary.

Part of the collection at the Papercut Zine Library

Papercut Zine Library

We created a packed schedule but some of the ones I attended include: “Building Collections,” “Barefoot Libraries,” “Zine Union Catalog,” “Metadata Ethics,” “Disaster Planning,” “Zine Events Planning,” and “Feelz.” The schedule also included a tour of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (to check out the artists’ books and zines collection) and the Papercut Zine Library. Detailed notes of the sessions are available through the (un)conference’s schedule (link above) so I’ll spare the details. I’ll just echo what I said in our wrap-up session on the last day: I managed to meet some really incredible and dedicated folks in the field, and I feel like I have a strong and diverse support system. Moving forward I hope to share what I’ve learned with the current library coordinators at the GLBT Library, where I founded the zine collection, to update the policy I originally penned when I was much less experienced. I also hope to work on the untouched zine collection at the Fine Arts Library in the coming year. I’ve also been invited to visit the Queer Zine Archive Project’s (QZAP) physical space by Milo (one of its founders) so maybe I’ll have some winter break travel plans after all!

Spring and Summer 2016 Updates

Apologies for falling off the face of the earth. Half way through the semester I started an 8-week course in the History of 20th-Century Photography that was worth an entire semester of work. In addition, I fell into an application frenzy for scholarships and awards. I also struggled with some personal mental health issues (which I will discuss in greater detail in a future post). With three 12-hour days back-to-back, doing full-time coursework, and juggling dozens of projects simultaneously, I think it would have taken my last ounce of energy to keep this blog updated. I meant to post a more detailed recollection of ARLIS/NA + VRA but I think I covered my general experience on the Society of Art Librarianship’s blog. I figured this would be a good chance to share some thoughts on the last few months and discuss what’s going on this summer.

As I mentioned, after ARLIS/NA + VRA I felt like I was in free fall. The work paid off though; I managed to land an internship for the fall at the Lilly Library and I also won a few scholarships/awards (see my updated CV here). It’s set me on a good track for the summer. I wanted to spend more time outside of Bloomington but it wouldn’t have been financially responsible. The awards have given me the opportunity to get out of town for two exciting opportunities though. The first is the Summer Educational Institute (SEI) in Chapel Hill, which I’ll be leaving for tomorrow. The second is the Zine Librarians (un)Conference in Boston, which I will be attending at the end of July. I’d really like to promote the travel grant for this particular conference because it has really been great networking with librarians affiliated with this event. Though we’ve only been in communication through e-mail at this point, I can tell they’re a very caring community. They’ve even managed to find me a free place to stay for the duration of my trip! The award I was granted this year was a POC travel grant, and I’m not sure what other grants may be available in the future, but I recommend applying for any of their travel awards in the future. They even sent me a Zine Librarians unConference Travel Grant Zine (yes, a zine about zine travel grants for a zine librarians conference).

A slide reading "THE END" on a light table.

Slide from the Fine Arts Library

In the meantime, I finished up my XML class earlier this summer and have been interning here at the Fine Arts Library. My primary responsibility is developing a deaccession policy for the slide collection, as well as digitizing and publishing images to Shared Shelf. In order to receive credit for the internship I have to keep a blog, so feel free to check it out for more information (disclaimer: it’ll be a pretty bland read unless you’re, like, really into policies and slides). I also just got done dog sitting/house sitting, so I’m trying to adjust back to my daily life, which has always been pretty hectic anyway I guess. If I’ve learned anything in the past two years of graduate school, it’s that I work better when I’m not overworking.

Skeleton with a sign reading "F.A.L. / 1981-2017 / R.I.P."

Herman in mourning

In crappier news, we recently found out that the Fine Arts Library will be closing in 2017. There have been mixed responses from our patrons, as well as from the greater art librarianship community through ARLIS/NA. I rely on this library a lot, so naturally I was shocked and pretty devastated when I heard the news. As a dual degree student in art history and library science, the Fine Arts Library has been the greatest resource I could imagine, and truly one of the major reasons I decided to enroll in this program. I’m not quite sure how this will affect the Art Librarianship specialization in the ILS department or the dual degree program. Not to mention, I rely on the library for many of my projects as a Graduate Assistant at the Eskenazi Museum of Art (recently renamed, formerly the IU Art Museum) and as the former president of the Society of Art Librarianship Students, as well as a source of income and professional experience as a Graduate Supervisor at the library. I often joke that I live in this building, but it’s true; I spend more of my waking hours at the art museum/library building than in my own apartment. This news coincided with some more personal problems, so I went through the stages of grief fairly rapidly. Shock/denial quickly morphed into anger, but now I’m learning to accept that fighting to keep the library open is no longer an option. We would be going up against $35 million and the school’s highest levels of administration. (Side note: <sarcasm>These career-altering decisions without consulting the staff isn’t alienating at all</sarcasm>). At this point I’m just crossing my fingers that the new space will adequately serve the special needs of the Fine Arts Library’s patrons. My biggest concern is reducing the stacks even more by sending more books off to the Auxiliary Library Facility (ALF). I still heavily rely on physical browsing for a significant part of my research process. But the numbers win in the end because statistics show that the usage of physical books by students here are dropping every year (though this doesn’t hold true for faculty). I hate to say it but I’ll hopefully be finishing up my program by May 2017, just before the library officially closes. It’s shaken me up a bit as I delve deeper into the field and approach the job-hunting phase of my life, but things change all the time and I have to learn to adapt. You’ll have to corner me in person to hear some off-the-record opinions about all this.

Closing Reception for Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. Display

Vaughan presenting by display cases

Vaughan’s presentation

On Friday (February 26) we hosted a closing reception at the Fine Arts Library for the display of Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.’s artist’s books and prints from the Special Collections. Vaughan Hennen, the curator, gave a brief talk about Kennedy’s background and the objects in the cases. After, he opened up the floor for a moment of silence and a Q&A/discussion. We also set up a table with additional books and prints so that the public could get a closer look. Kristina Keogh, our past head, and Jasmine Burns, our interim head, managed to hook us up with some catered desserts and coffee for the event. In the end, I think the program went well and Vaughan killed it.

Prints and books by Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.

Some books and prints laid out for a closer look

Kennedy’s works were perfect for (1) celebrating Black History Month, (2) exposing the continual bureaucratic nonsense at IU, and (3) the lack of diversity in academia. As the only black faculty member in the Fine Arts Department during his time here, he exposed the injustices in both our school and society in general. He made sure that those he criticized were aware of his political statements by mailing them personalized prints. Kennedy is still active today. His Instagram is updated fairly regularly.

Selfie of B.J., Vaughan, Kendra, Me, and Jasmine at the closing reception

(left to right, front to back) B.J., Vaughan, Kendra, Me (Andrew), Jasmine

I’m happy to see that we got so much support from our peers. A lot of fellow students from our Library Science program attended. Though we didn’t have any members from the Black Graduate Student Association give a presentation, I was happy to see that some of them were present. I would really love to see SALS continue to collaborate with other student organizations, especially outside of our department. We also had some community members who knew Kennedy personally, including B.J. Irvine, the first head of the Fine Arts Library and the person responsible for establishing the artists’ books collection here.

We’re hoping to put on another display for the Midwest Art Cataloging Discussion Group meeting in October (to be hosted by IU). Next semester’s themester is beauty, but Vaughan and I were in talks about pulling controversial materials relating to death and burial practices from the Special Collections. “Beautiful decay”?

Trip to the Stout Reference Library

Dale Chihuly's Fireworks of Glass

Dale Chihuly, Fireworks of Glass, The Children’s Museum, Indianapolis

On Sunday, February 21, SALS made a day trip to Indianapolis. Our first stop was the Children’s Museum, which turned out to be an eye-opening experience. The museum is free to children in the surrounding neighborhoods, and it’s evident that it is a major resource for the lower socioeconomic families in the city. Kudos to the person that decided to put a branch of the public library inside the museum! Also, the playful Chihuly sculpture is so appropriately placed in the center of the fully accessible ramp stairwell.

SALS members under the Chihuly sculpture

Under the Chihuly sculpture

Our next stop was the Indianapolis Museum of Art. After a quick lunch, we met with Alba Fernandez-Keys, the Head of Libraries & Archives, for a tour of the Stout Reference Library and a Q&A session. I had visited Alba and the Stout last year with SALS, but there was high demand to return this year by our new members (and I enjoyed the opportunity to hear from Alba again). Like last year, Alba was fantastically blunt and brutally honest about the current state of museum librarianship. Though we’re seeing more job postings–especially through ARLIS/NA–it’s clear that art museum librarianship positions are much rarer. The Stout, for instance, had to let go of two staff members in recent years due to budget cuts. Alba has absorbed those positions and is now responsible for overseeing fellows/interns/volunteers, cataloging, reference, acquisitions, special collections, and just about everything else related to the Stout. Despite this, Alba handles it with great energy and passion. As we gawked at the list of her responsibilities, she smiled and said, “I love my job.” It sounds daunting for some of us, but also undeniably inspirational.

Suspended books in the lobby of the Indianapolis Museum of Art

Suspended books in the lobby of the Indianapolis Museum of Art

We had some time to peruse the galleries after our meeting. I still can’t get over their African art collection. I’ve been to the IMA three or four times at this point and have yet to make it through the entire building, but I always find myself in the African art gallery. I also spent a good chunk of time with the contemporary design. Admittedly I overlooked design in the past, but have grown increasingly fascinated with contemporary design after researching MoMA’s acquisition of Björk and Scott Snibbe’s Biophilia app last semester. Unfortunately it’s one major area missing from the Indiana University Art Museum’s collections here in Bloomington. ~All the reason to return to Indy~

 

Introductions

I’ve always struggled to keep personal blogs updated. They tend to linger around the Internet un-touched for a couple of years before a friend digs them up to shame me for how mopey I used to be. I’m still occasionally mopey but I’ll save all that for my destructible pen and paper journal. I’m going to keep it clean here (informal semi-professional blah blah whatever you want to call it).

Now over half way through my graduate program, I look back and realize how much has changed since I moved to Bloomington two years ago. Moving here before even knowing if I had been accepted to either program (art history and library science) was a risk I hadn’t fully comprehended until I was shivering alone, unemployed, and aimless through my first Indiana blizzard–not exactly the adventure I had imagined. Back in Pennsylvania, my position as a museum security guard had come to an end following the close of one of their temporary shows, and days later I was driving through Ohio to try a “new life” in the Midwest.

Unemployment gave me the opportunity to pursue personal projects: illustrating a deck of tarot cards, creating papier-mache sculptures, writing fiction, etc. Then I was hired as an assistant at a summer art camp. And then I started volunteering as a tutor. And then I started one class during summer sessions, then three during the fall. I was hired as a Center Supervisor at a Residential Programs & Services Library as well as a Graduate Assistant at the Indiana University Art Museum. And then I took more classes, was hired as the Library Coordinator at the GLBT Library, became President of the Society of Art Librarianship Students (SALS), was hired as a Reference Assistant, was hired as a Graduate Supervisor at the Fine Arts Library, and abruptly stopped feeling human. It felt like I was doing projects on top of projects on top of unresolved personal problems.

I don’t regret how thinly I spread myself because I discovered how much I could endure. I know what I enjoy and what I am naturally drawn to. I know I can do a million projects simultaneously fairly well, but I can really excel when I pursue a handful of meaningful projects. It was always natural for me to take on as much as I could, but it has only become increasingly apparent that more is not better. Plus I value my stamina and sanity, both of which were quickly depleted under the weight of my excessive workload.

In truth, I’m doing as much “work” this semester as I have in the past. It feels like less but that’s because I’m doing more of what I want (both more relevant for my career path and for personal fulfillment). Plus I have a great cohort of peers who are just as hard-working as I am (thankfully without having their heads stuck in the academia clouds).

Upcoming projects that make me jittery (in a good way): co-editing a zine for SALS with Kendra Werst, putting together my presentation on comics and art librarianship for ARLIS/NA (and also going to Seattle for the first time!), and road-tripping to St. Louis to meet Rina Vecchiola (Art and Architecture Librarian) at Washington University. Fingers crossed that I can also make it to SEI at Chapel Hill and Rare Book School in Charlottesville this summer.

That last paragraph was my attempt at not being mopey. Did it work?

MontaukMy name is Andrew Wang and I am currently a student at Indiana University pursuing master’s degrees in art history and library science. I can be seen haunting the fine arts building at least six days a week. In terms of librarianship, I am particularly interested in comics, zines, and visual literacy. As for my art historian half, I am fond of Mayan art, colonial Latin American art, Spanish painting, and twentieth-century abstraction, with a growing interest in new media art, mid-century horror comics, Asian-American artists, and contemporary photography.

I am determined to keep this blog up-and-running for the long haul. Stay tuned for life updates, media and exhibition reviews, ongoing projects, and reflections.