Andrew Wang

librarianship, life, etc.

Category: Trips

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.

 

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!

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~