A Summer for the Books

For many years my summers have consisted of friends, sunshine, and sleeping in, which some would like to call, lazing around and being the opposite of productive. However, this summer, I have been back in my home-state of California for about three weeks now and have spent two of those weeks at work, behind-the-scenes of the Japanese American National Museum as this summer’s curatorial intern, one of the three Getty interns this summer.

I am Alexa Kim, a soon-to-be second year at Kalamazoo College, in the little known city of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Last year, I, a lifelong California girl, decided that I would be spending the next four years of my life, across the country, in the wild wild Midwest, a place where the winters are cold and the authentic Mexican food is scarce, a place I’ve learned to call home. I’m set on the path of becoming a full-blown art nerd, a.k.a. an art history major, since I discovered years ago that I would not make my living as an artist since the “art” I created, or attempted to create, resulted in works faintly resembling Picasso, when I had been aiming for more of a Caravaggio-esque look. If you don’t know who on earth I’m referring to, like I said, art nerd in training.

Bright and early every morning I hop on the train to commute to Little Tokyo, where I am greeted with the hustle and bustle of everyone grabbing their pre-work coffee fix at Starbucks, me included, and then proceed to head to my desk at the National Museum. I have been met with various projects here, but the majority of my time here will be spent in the Collections department. A room where one must always remember to bring a sweater because even though it may be a sweltering 90° outside, it is always a brisk 67° in Collections. Down there, safety first means putting artifact preservation above one’s preferential temperature level. Despite the chill, Collections is a candy store for little art historian children. As I have been becoming more and more acquainted with Japanese American history, every artifact I come across has an amazing story behind it just waiting and wanting to be told. Stories that will eventually be told, as we continue to work on the hefty task of creating a new exhibit, which will shed a new light onto the WWII story. What I will be doing at the museum this summer, is simply a small piece to an eventually big puzzle.

This marks the end of my second week working at the museum and I cannot wait to see all the cavities I will have by the end of my ten week trip to the candy store and the great tan I’ll have from spending all my time under artificial lighting. But seriously speaking, the lack of a tan I will have by the end of these ten weeks will so be worth it.

A Word From One of This Summer’s Getty Interns

And with each summer brings a new opportunity…

June gloom is finally beginning to burn off, and all my school friends are enjoying the break tanning on the beautiful Santa Barbara beach by day and partying by night.  I, instead, sit typing at my internship desk, with loaned keyboard, computer, and office space.  My days are filled with waking up earlier than I have in years, falling asleep, against my will, exhausted, the moment I get home, battling the 110 north, and having the time of my life at the National Museum.

My name is Alyctra Matsushita.  I’m going to be a senior at University of California, Santa Barbara (go Gauchos!), studying English and Asian American Studies.  I’m also the Japanese American National Museum’s Media Arts Intern, one of three undergraduate students commissioned for ten weeks to intern at the Museum by courtesy of the Getty Museum.

I’ve been here less than two weeks, but I’ve already learned so much.  I’ve met the huge multitude of volunteers–some of them several times over.  It feels like every time I walk into a room, I’m introduced to a new crop.  Even though there are gaggles of them, they’re each personable and kind—in the mornings they offer the interns coffee cake and other treats, they have potlucks and snacks, and every one has dozens of stories, from war memories and tales that they share willingly with my fellow interns, to gardening secrets and other gossip secretly whispered to more trusted fellow docents.

In the last two weeks, I’ve also learned more than I ever even knew existed about the multimedia world.  I’ve gotten to cut and edit tape to be used for the Discover Nikkei website—as a self-proclaimed Asian American Studies nerd, this was especially exciting because I’ve explored the site multiple times for both academic research, as well as recreation.  To see the behind the scenes work involved after exploring the site myself was especially satisfying.  I also did my first solo shoot—a book party with testimonials from the Japanese Americans from Lompoc!

All in all, the first two weeks have gone by quickly.  Getting the hang of things the first couple of days was a bit wracking, but now that I know what’s what, things are smooth sailing.  I’m very excited for the next eight weeks, and can only imagine the fun they will bring!

Year of the Labbit

Anyone who has ever organized a custom toy show will tell you that when the art starts rolling in, it’s like you are having your own private Christmas. The quality and ingenuity of the work is very high for this show and we are now thinking that some of the pieces may be auctioned off during the run of the exhibition. Details to come!

The task of photographing all these pieces and prepping them for the web store hasn’t gotten started yet, but I wanted to share a few teasers that were created from photos sent to me by the artists.

I’m not sure what order these will come up in, but the artists are Konatsu, Mark Nagata, and Stan Sakai. I’m sure you will be able to figure out who did what!

1 artwork, 2 units, 5 people, 45 minutes

Have you ever wondered what happens to the artifacts you see hanging on walls or sitting in cases in a museum after an exhibition is over?

Here’s a little peek at our collections and production units’ staff at work deinstalling Momo Nagano’s “American Families” tapestry in the Taul & Sachiko Watanabe Gallery after the closing of the exhibition, American Tapestry: 25 Stories from the Collection.

AmTap Deinstall 2011 video

From AmTapDeinstall2011video

I ran out of memory, so here is the rest of the deinstall in photos.

AmTap Deinstall 2011 pix

From AmTapDeinstall2011video

The tapestry is back on its shelf in our climate controlled collections storage. You can see the hygrothermograph on the shelf above to monitor temperature and humidity.

So, that was just one object out of 25 stories presented in the exhibition. Others had special mounts, supports or cases with accompanying text panels.  In Norman Mineta’s archival collection alone there were 31 boxes displayed on shelves enclosed within 3 cases.  After all the objects are removed, or in the case of the “American Families” tapestry as objects are deinstalled, Collections staff write a condition report on the artifact which is updated in our collections management database. The artifact is rehoused and returned to storage or, if it is a loan, to loaning institution or individual, which is a whole other ball of wax.

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Cheryl Toyama
Cataloger/Data Asset Manager

Evan Kodani, 2010 Getty intern

Getty Summer Internships at JANM

If any of the following make you flee in terror then this internship is not for you:

  • Air conditioning
  • Your own edit workstation equipped with Final Cut Studio, Photoshop, dual monitors, and a furry tiger hat with ears.
  • Socializing with other people your age
  • Socializing with other people not your age
  • Free admission to many museums
  • Producing your own work and making contributions that matter
  • Immersion into Japanese American history and culture (and food)
  • Casual field trips and networking opportunities
  • Getting paid real money instead of Monopoly money

Still here? Then apply to be the Museum’s Getty Media Arts Intern for this summer.(2 other positions open in Curatorial and Graphic Arts/Production)

Deadline to apply: May 6.Evan Kodani, 2010 Getty intern

For requirements and more: http://www.janm.org/jobs/

Evan Kodani was the 2010 Getty Media Arts Intern.He recently graduated from UCLA with a degree in communications.The internship was, by far, one of his most valuable college experiences, improving his skills in editing, videography, and understanding of what a real work environment feels like.It also got him a girlfriend.