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Opportunities at the Smithsonian

Katie Patschke - 2014 AAA Summer InternWorking for the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art has allowed me to expand my knowledge of African studies by exploring the occupations and roles that Africans take on in their day to day lives. I am currently finishing up my research on the project by conducting in depth searches on topics that need more extensive research. This week I am going to be creating a list of objects that will be displayed in the “Creativity of Work” exhibit. This is a big project and I am hoping to continue researching on the “Creativity of Work” project in the near future.

Katie Patschke - 2014 AAA Summer Intern Last week we had a very special event held at the National Museum of African Art. During the African Summit the African Art museum held a First Ladies brunch for the First Ladies of Africa. As an intern I was in charge of setting up the event by creating place cards and gift bags, organizing the seating arrangements and working with the First Ladies to get anything that they needed. The event was a great success. It was such an honor to meet such powerful, important women who are true inspirations in African countries.Katie Patsche - 2014 AAA Summer Intern

This weekend I had the opportunity to visit some great parts of DC such as the International Spy Museum, Meridian Park, and Georgetown. I have enjoyed my experience in DC and plan to move here after my schooling finishes up in December. I am so grateful for this opportunity and would recommend the experience to aspiring anthropology students.Katie Patschke - 2014 AAA Summer Intern

Introducing AAA Summer Intern – Katie Patschke

Katie Patschke

My name is Katie Patschke and I was selected to be a summer intern for the American Anthropological Association and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art through AAA member donations. At the American Anthropological Association I am researching anthropologists and writing biographies that AAA will soon feature. I am currently working on a project with my co-worker Josh Anderson to promote National Anthropology Day through student outreach and advertising.

At the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art I am a curatorial intern where I am working under the supervision of Christine Kreamer on a research project called Creativity of Work that is going to be the foundation for a future exhibition, book, or short film. The research topics included Kongo power figures, masquerade performance, occupations, farming, healing, cooking, art of sacrifice, and gender theory. Through this experience I intend to expand my knowledge of research methods to one day conduct my own research for cultural anthropology regarding gender role issues. I am hoping to continue working for the National Museum of African Art post-graduation in December 2014.

I have lived in DC for two weeks now and have had the opportunity to explore a lot of what DC has to offer. I have visited the American History Museum, the Air and Space Museum, the American Art Museum, the National Zoo and Georgetown cupcakes. I live with 11 other interns who work on Capitol Hill. Every weekend we go out and explore the city of DC. Last weekend we celebrated the 4th of July on the mall. All of us agreed that it was the best firework display that we had ever seen. I also had the opportunity to try out hot yoga and a cycling class. The city is very walkable so every morning I am able to run down the mall to the Lincoln memorial or the white house. I have met a few Washingtonians who all seem to be very helpful and friendly. I am enjoying DC and am looking forward to spending the rest of the summer here.

2014 AAA Summer Interns Announced

Through generous member donations, two anthropology students, Joshua Anderson and Katie Patschke, will have the opportunity to spend this summer working with the AAA as part of the Association’s Summer Internship Program. They will also work with partnering host organizations in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The students were selected from more than fifty candidates based on their field of anthropological interest, academic strength, and recommendations from their professors.

Joshua AndersonJoshua Anderson is a senior at Minnesota State University – Mankato, and majors in anthropology with an emphasis on archaeology. He has a technical degree in Honda and Yamaha motorcycle mechanics from Universial Technical Institute in Phoenix, AZ. Joshua has served in the United States Army Reserves for 12 years, serving two deployments. Currently, he is an instructor teaching Carpentry/Masonry courses as well as actively working as a field supervisor for a county-wide archaeological survey at Minnesota State University – Mankato. As an AAA summer intern, Joshua will intern with Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC). NHHC is the official history program of the Department of the Navy. He will be working with the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the NHHC and will be conducting archaeological and historical research, synthesizing field information to prepare policy and case studies, as well as conserving artifacts and assisting with the inventory, management and artifact loan programs.

Katie PatschkeKatie Patschke, is a junior at Susquehanna University. She will graduate December 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, Anthropology, and Studio Art. She is an active student leader who currently holds three president positions for clubs as well as being a member of the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. Katie will intern with the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and be placed in the museum’s curatorial department where her tasks would include research on gender theory and object-based work related to a future exhibition on the contributions of, and issues addressed by, African contemporary woman artists.

Both Anderson and Patschke will also spend a portion of their time at the AAA offices, where they will be working with the Association’s public education program, RACE: Are We So Different?, researching various pieces of Federal legislation and regulatory initiatives and sharing their internship experience with members in Association publications and social media.

The AAA Summer Internship Program is in its fourth consecutive year. The internship provides professional experience to anthropology students and assists in shaping the foundation of their anthropological careers. This program is fully funded through member donations.

Make a donation to the Summer Internship Program, today!

Behind the Scenes at the National Museum of African Art

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Today’s guest blog post is by AAA Summer Intern, Jalene Regassa.

Earth Matters! That is the title of a current exhibition at the National Museum of African Art (NMAFA). During my first week as a curatorial intern at the museum, I walked through this exhibition as any tourist would do. I read some of the tablets explaining about the artists and their art works in order to get the general idea of the exhibition and how each piece fit into the bigger message. Of course, I was also trying to make use of my critical eye afforded to me by my Anthropology education. However, I left the exhibition feeling unsure about some of the pieces and wondering if I understood their meaning to the full extend. Lucky for me, I was not left to wonder for too long as I was given the opportunity to join a guided tour by the curator of the exhibition, Karen Milbourne.   It was surprising, exciting, and inspiring to discover the level of depth of meaning that each piece held on its own and within the context of the exhibition. I was amazed by the amount of research Ms. Milbourne had conducted in order to be able to present the art pieces in a meaningful manner that asserts their historical context and maintains their integrity.

Thus, for me, the most exciting part of my experience interning at the NMAFA has been discovering and learning about all the work that is involved in putting an exhibition together. As you walk through museums glancing at the spaciously displayed art works, it often seems as though they were effortlessly put together. Consequently, I never seriously thought about or realized the amount of time and effort that goes into preparing an exhibition. This internship allowed me to see the activities that take place behind the scenes of the museum in corners that I never knew existed. The staff members at NMAFA graciously organized a guided, behind the scenes tour of the museum for the interns and volunteers, in which we had the opportunity to learn about the various departments of the museum and their responsibilities. For instance, I had no idea that there was a wood workshop where NMAFA makes its own cases for displaying objects or a library where curators can find books and archived documents to conduct their research.

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From the conception of an exhibition idea to its realization it may take up to a year to finalize everything and open it to the public. The in-between processes include deciding on a theme, researching artists and their creations, acquisition of the art pieces (with plenty of paper work), and preparation of the exhibition area (which often includes painting walls and building special display cases). Though I got a glimpse of what everybody does, as a curatorial intern, my focus was on the curating process of an exhibition.

Fortunately, the project I am working on is in the beginning stages, so I have the great opportunity and pleasure of working with curator Christine Kreamer to help refine the exhibition plan and observe as it takes shape. This particular project aims to bring African American art from a very important private collection and present it in conversation with African art to highlight some of the common themes and issues that the artists addressed in their work.

My job is to conduct research on the art pieces that have been chosen to be displayed from the private African American Art collection and learn when, how, and why they were made. In other words, I need to find out about the artists and their motivations or sources of inspiration: What themes interested them? What issues did they seek to address? By doing so, I will assist in the selection of compatible African Art pieces to be included in the exhibition.

2meI thoroughly enjoyed working on this exhibition project for many reason. One of the main reasons is that I never had an opportunity to learn about African American Art from as far back as the 1800s before. Thus, it has been fascinating to not only learn about their art work but also their struggle to make it in their profession. Many of the African American artists became activists out of necessity to claim their right to equal treatment. Some were subtle and showed their activism through their art and others were overt as they established or joined organizations that worked to advocate for African American interests.  In many cases, understanding their struggles was essential in comprehending the depth of their work, titles, and comments.

Overall, this has been a wonderful and fascinating experience.

AAA Student Summer Internship – Call for Applications

The American Anthropological Association is pleased to offer two internship opportunities funded by member donations and one internship opportunity funded by the Association for Feminist Anthropology for the summer of 2013.

Internships are six weeks in length from June 30 through August 17, 2013.  Internships are unpaid however; interns will be provided housing and a meal/travel stipend.

Interns will spend approximately 40 percent of their time working onsite at the AAA offices in Arlington, Virginia, and the other 60 percent of their time working on-site at one of three locations described below.

Eligibility:

  • Undergraduate students in their junior or senior year
  • First Year Graduate students (completing the first year of graduate work by June 2013)

Visit the AAA Summer Internship Program webpage for the application. Application deadline is March 15, 2013.

Click here to support this Internship Program through a financial contribution.

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National Museum of African Art Curatorial Research

Today’s blog post is by one of our two summer interns, Susannah Poland. This is the second year of the AAA Summer Internship Program. Learn more and support the program today!

At the National Museum of African Art, I have been buried in my books.

Photo by Elvert BarnesThe NMfAA is mostly underground. Visitors to the Smithsonian Castle see only the tip of an iceberg: the museum’s atrium pokes up in the Haupt Garden, and passersby — lured by chilling air conditioning — can push through glassy doors and descend a massive spiraling staircase into the galleries below. The museum is three floors deep, and sunlight filters down the central columnar stairwell to a glittery pool and fountain at its base. The galleries are connected by underground atria, lit by arching skylights. Glassy walkways bridge between museum departments, and windows from all floors give views into studios, libraries, and galleries, and offices. Indoor plants and clever murals give the illusion that one is passing through a an open-air piazza. Only the distinctive taste of air conditioning reminds us that we are in a highly designed environment.

During the last three weeks I have been cloistered in the African Art Library, deep in the museum. The NMfAA houses the largest collection of written works on African Art in existence, and Africanists and art historians travel from around the world to study these documents. The library is a functional storage space; unaesthetic mobile stacks roll together to maximize storage capacity, metal filing cabinets line the walls. I claimed a small carol in a back corner next to some photocopy machines. In these humble surroundings I’ve rubbed elbows with some of the most prominent researchers and scholars in the field – anthropologists who wrote foundational ethnographies on African peoples, art historians who first introduced African art and artists to the Western world, and young scholars who are publishing the most challenging work on contemporary artistic practice in Africa and the diaspora. Some of them I recognize immediately, sometimes one scholar will tip me off about the other – they seem mutually star-struck. I am reminded that the Smithsonian is a hub for global expertise.

During the day I drift between my library carol, my office, and the staff room where I make tea. I have assembled over 100 articles which are helping me to map the landscape of contemporary arts created by women in Africa and the diaspora. I have been reading about gender issues and feminisms addressed by African women today, trying to develop a vocabulary for describing related arts.

My research will set the foundation for the design of an exhibit curated by Christine Kreamer, head curator of the NMfAA. This fall we will invite a small group of scholars and curators to a meeting at the NMfAA, to discuss the narrative of the exhibit and related publications. With this important gathering in mind, I am digesting as much literature as possible, to make informed recommendations for invitees and to help maximize precious discussion time with these experts.

Though I am processing information quickly, I feel the pressure of time – my 6-week internship has flown away, and I am scrambling to organize my research in a way that will it easy for my successor to pick up where I left off. In addition to leaving physical records (binders of articles, annotations, and bibliographies) I am developing a web site that will serve as a simple database for storing and searching material, which can easily be modified by future researchers.

If I could, I would spend all my days hanging out in the library with the head librarian, Janet Stanley. Janet built the extraordinary collection of scholarship herself over the last three decades. She navigates the collections better than any web catalogue, recalling authors, subjects, and references within texts, and she understands lineages and relationships among works that organize and define the field of scholarship. Janet is the library, and the volumes are simply extensions of her own mind. She is constantly reading, searching, sharing, cataloging … it is thrilling to be in her presence.

2012 AAA Summer Interns Announced

Through generous member donations, two anthropology students, Eric Rodriguez and Susannah Reed Poland, will have the opportunity to spend this summer working with the AAA as part of the Association’s Summer Internship Program. They will also work with partnering host organizations in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The students were selected from almost fifty candidates based on their field of anthropological interest, academic strength, and recommendations from their professors.

Eric Rodriguez is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, and majors in anthropology. As an AAA summer intern, Eric will intern with Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC). NHHC is the official history program of the Department of the Navy. Eric will be working with the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the NHHC and will be conducting archaeological and historical research, synthesizing field information to prepare policy and case studies, as well as conserving artifacts and assisting with the inventory, management and artifact loan programs.

Susannah Reed Poland, is a senior at Stanford University, and is majoring in anthropology as well. Susannah will intern with the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and be placed in the museum’s curatorial department where her tasks would include research on gender theory and object-based work related to a future exhibition on the contributions of, and issues addressed by, African contemporary woman artists.

Both Rodriguez and Poland will also spend a portion of their time at the AAA offices, where they will be working with the Association’s public education program, RACE: Are We So Different?, researching various pieces of Federal legislation and regulatory initiatives and sharing their internship experience with members in Association publications and social media.

The AAA Summer Internship Program is in its second consecutive year. The internship provides professional experience to anthropology students and assists in shaping the foundation of their anthropological careers. This program is fully funded through member donations.

Make a donation to the Summer Internship Program, today!

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