Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Foundation and a Sanctuary

I have two internships this summer, my Summer Fellowship with the Art Sanctuary and an internship at the Barnes Foundation. Both have been very rewarding in several ways, especially the education of different forms of art based non-profits. Working with both at the same time has allowed me to assess what kind of establishment I would want to work with in the future. So far I like the grassroots and family feeling of the Art Sanctuary. The segregated sections of the Barnes Foundation feel too isolating and they even feel like they compete with one another. I never want to work in a place that feels like work. I want to be around family. 

One of the things I love about the Art Sanctuary is that they are interested in growing people’s skills and finding a balance between what Art Sanctuary needs and what the individual wants to give. I don’t feel as much value at the Barnes Foundation. Anyone really could do my data entry. I’m replaceable.

Don’t get me wrong the Barnes Foundation has done wonders for cultivating and preserving their culture centered on their “collection” or rather their specimens of “great art”. What the Barnes struggles with even in their fancy, modern home on the Parkway is embracing the new.

Case in point, they asked me to write a blog for them to advertise the upcoming July First Friday event. I did this by “focusing on the collection” and I connected the drummer and saxophone jazz duo to Picasso’s, Musical Instruments. It was written in my usual lyrical voice that I often write in for formal occasions intermingled with some poetic imagery. Everyone I showed it to loved the piece and a week later people were telling me that it was published on the Barnes Foundation website. It’s on the site right now you can go look, but I’ll tell you this – it is not my blog post. There are perhaps four lines from the original in that blog post. Almost everything that was me was stripped away, but the worst part is my name is still attached to it. Now that wasn’t just an intern job of data entry that I did for the Barnes, that was my art that I gave to them for free and they removed me from it entirely. Bare minimum I was disgusted, at most I was enraged, but I spoke to my supervisor very calmly advocating for myself. She agreed with me and pleaded with me to write more if we can speak to someone who works there to be my advocate on the inside, but I’m not sure if I’m willing to risk that.

The Art Sanctuary is just that, a sanctuary. Amidst the suffocation of the violence against black lives in this country, Art Sanctuary remains steadfast and continues to offer healing. I am also writing a blog for Art Sanctuary and it has been a struggle only because I care so much about the mission and the material that I often doubt myself as the person who can even write the blogs. Ms. Val and I spoke many times and we decided on it being an “art haven” where the “divide between producers of art and consumers of art will close” all the while addressing issues, strengths, and experiences specific to black people and black artists. Ms. Val and I are both people of vision and we foresee this blog bringing in other writers and offering space for collaboration, dialogue, and art making. I hope when the new site is up you'll read it and contribute to expand art as a changing force for good. I’m also working with founder of Art Sanctuary and author Lorene Cary on these blogs as she mentors me. I have written a couple so far, but I won’t lie to you, they are extremely emotionally and mentally taxing and every moment I doubt my ability and myself. Though I know I have the Sanctuary here with me to help me grow and find peace.


  1. I'm late a bit late to this post but let me say this, You are a wonderful writer and I can only imagine that your deep connection and passion to you subject matter makes you an even greater one! You are genuinely a visionary that wants to lead people to greater things and that's something that I truly admire about you. With your abilities, prowess, and talents, I am surprised to hear that the Barnes Foundation stripped you of your voice (the one thing I can imagine a writer values, as it's their life)! I would love to read YOUR post and I refuse to read theirs! Is there anyway for you to get their edited version deleted, or at the very least get your name taken off of it?

    I hope your having an awesome and very valuable experience being able to have both of these internships simultaneously. You really get the chance to compare and contrast the two immediately- taking what you want and leaving what you don't. I'm happy you realize what's truly valuable to you.

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