Andrew Wang

librarianship, life, etc.

Month: February, 2016

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”?

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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.