ASU interns bring imagination, creativity, cultural knowledge to Heard Museum collaboration

July 10, 2018

The recent launch of the partnership between Arizona State University's Herberger Institute and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art — to support the training of a new diverse generation of museum professionals — made national headlines. For the last three years, a hometown collaboration between ASU’s American Indian Student Support Services and Phoenix’s Heard Museum has been contributing to a similar goal. 

The Heard Museum Guild Internship Program, first piloted in spring semester of 2015, offers ASU American Indian students the opportunity to contribute to, and gain a firsthand understanding of, the many moving parts involved in sustaining this internationally renowned institution. ASU alum and Mellon Fellow Kayannon George working with bolo ties at Heard Museum “I’m kind of on a roll with cataloging,” noted ASU alumna and Mellon Fellow Kayannon George, as she neared completion of cataloging the Norman L. Sandfield collection of bolo ties. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now Download Full Image

“ASU interns are an integral part of the imagination and creativity we hold dear here,” said Marcus Monenerkit, Heard Museum director of community engagement. A 2011 graduate of ASU’s Master of Nonprofit Studies program, Monenerkit has frequently collaborated with ASU faculty, staff and students in his 20-year career with the Heard Museum. But it’s clear that over the last three years, bringing guild interns into every dimension of the work in his area has become organic.

“They get to know our 11 galleries and we look for their input on new projects from the conceptualization phase forward.” Monenerkit explained. “We’ll go to other museums to see new ways of handling the spaces. They’ll work with artists who exhibit and conduct demonstrations and workshops here. They also get involved as we collaborate with other museums and private collectors to put together innovative exhibitions that connect art across time and cultures.”

Heard Museum membership coordinator Christina Harris, who comes from a family of artists from Zuni Pueblo, the Hopi Tribe and the Tohono O’odham Nation, said of the internship program that continuing to bring additional Native voices into the work of the museum “will make the institution even more knowledgeable and the art world, in general, more sensitive to art connected with deep meaning and ceremonial and religious significance."

“The Heard is a partner in bringing voice to that as well as to a greater understanding that, while some things in Native communities are being done the same way they have been since time immemorial, these are living, breathing communities where artists are also on the cutting edge, making art that is powerful politically, environmentally, socially,” said Harris, an alumna of ASU’s American Indian studies bachelor’s degree program. “I love that the Heard not only reflects the past but is contemporary.” 

“Over the last three years we’ve seen the internship program grow in terms of the number of departments sponsoring interns and in strengthening the depth of the experience for students,” said American Indian Student Support Services Associate Director Laura Gonzales-Macias, who was part of the original team to lay the groundwork for the partnership. “Our Heard partners very much have the same ideas we at ASU do about wanting students to be able to apply and develop career-related skills and grow their professional network.”

The internships, which carry a stipend and the potential for academic credit, are funded by the work of the Heard Museum Guild, the museum’s cohort of committed community volunteers.

“Matching students with placements also involves the American Indian Student Support Services coordinators at each ASU campus, who help in pre-screening candidates,” Gonzales-Macias said.      

To date, 25 intern positions have been filled with 18 (seven returning) ASU students in the program, assisting in areas from curation, education and community engagement to fundraising, development and finance.  

Recently, several Heard Museum Guild interns — past and present — and their supervisors sat down with ASU Now to talk about the internships and their reverberations.     

Transitioning from archaeology to fine art

Art conservation wasn’t on Kayannon George’s career radar when the Deer Valley High School graduate transferred to ASU from Glendale Community College to major in anthropology. Even when she applied to the Heard Museum Guild Internship her junior year it was motivated by her strong interests in archaeology.

“But it soon became about the fine art,” said George, who is of the White Mountain Apache and Navajo tribes and graduated from ASU in December 2016. “As a Heard Museum Guild intern I was introduced to aspects of museum work that I’d never really heard about before. I’ve become really interested in hands-on work with the art and the conservation and maintenance of textiles and ceramics.”  

Her internship experience also opened up opportunities to pursue her passion for this specialty area of museum work.

Last July when the Heard Museum was awarded a six-figure grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for fellowships to support the training of the next generation of museum conservators, particularly within the Native American community, George’s former colleagues at the Heard asked her if she’d consider applying.     

From more than 40 applicants, she was selected as one of the first three Mellon Fellows and completed the nine-month appointment at the beginning of June.  

“I’d like to stick around and work with the Heard collections,” said George about her future plans, “while also keeping my eyes open for interesting residencies or applied workshops in museums around the country. I’m applying for an internship at the National Museum of the American Indian, part of the Smithsonian Institution, this next year. Eventually I’ll attend graduate school in museum studies.”

Building an unparalleled archive 

In spring 2018, sophomore Modesta Molina became the second intern to assist in the Heard Museum’s Billie Jane Baguley Library and Archives. At ASU she’s majoring in interdisciplinary studies in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, completing concentrations in sustainability and justice studies, and minoring in American Indian studies.

Molina, a member of the Pasqua Yaqui Tribe, had worked last summer in the Maricopa County Library District branch library in the town of Guadalupe. So when she saw that the Heard Museum Guild Internship form included the library as a placement option, she thought it would be a good fit with her experience and her interest in going on to law school.

The library maintains extensive holdings about indigenous art and cultures from around the world and an unparalleled resource collection: physical files and an electronic database of information about nearly 25,000 American Indian artists collected over the last 40 years.

“The Heard Museum Guild Internship has been great!” observed Molina, who began her internship in February. “My favorite part of the internship has to be experiencing all of the events that go on at the Heard. I have also learned so much about the importance the library plays here at the Heard and with the community. It provides a reference for museum staff and knowledge for scholars. I enjoy contributing my part to keeping the library going.”

Growing a continuous revenue stream

Michael Avila, a senior majoring in global management at ASU’s West campus, jumped in and started his internship on one of the busiest weekends of the year for the museum, during the 28th annual World Championship Hoop Dance Contest in February. The 2018 event drew about 5,000 guests and 1.7 million viewers streamed the event live around the world including from Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Belize and Canada. 

“I greeted guests and talked with them about potentially considering a Heard membership,” said Avila, whose spring 2018 internship was focused on business development. A graduate of Sunnyslope High School, he earned an associate degree in business at Phoenix College before transferring to ASU.

“Growing a continuous revenue stream depends on memberships and sponsorships, and we track about 6,300 households and contributions across three giving programs,” noted Rebecca Simpson, Heard Museum associate director of development. “So we have been seeking Michael’s help in the messaging we create to ‘sell’ our programs to those audiences as we carry out our educational mission. We’re like our own little small business with a heavy focus on marketing, data management and analytics, and event management.”

That dynamic was partly what drew Avila to apply to the program. 

“I applied for the Heard Guild Internship because I have an interest in entrepreneurship and small business management (my dad owns his own construction company) and also to explore the business side of managing a nonprofit,” Avila observed. “I also saw it as a chance to connect with my heritage.” 

Enjoying ‘a crash course in professionalization’

Helping to plan and host the 2018 World Championship Hoop Dance Contest bookended Diamond Rivera’s two semesters of internship working with Shaliyah Ben, the Heard Museum director of public programs.

Rivera, who is from the Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe and graduated from Gila Ridge High School in Yuma, said she had heard of the museum before attending ASU, but her first experience with the Heard Museum was just before applying for the internship. 

“I went up and enjoyed exploring the museum on my own,” she said, noting that the museum admission is always free to Native Americans.

“The department I was in really gives you a crash course in professionalization in the workplace,” said Rivera, who will graduate from ASU in December with a major in exercise and wellness.

“You learn to talk with a wide variety of people and I got involved in budgeting, planning and executing events,” she noted. “Into some of the programming, such as First Friday events, I was able to design elements related to making a healthy lifestyle and came up with activities that would be age-appropriate for youth and family-friendly — all directly tied into my career path. 

“It was also just really fun to be a part of the staff,” she said, “participating in movie nights or enjoying doughnuts together!” 

Doing work that encompasses every passion

Martisha “Tisha” Clyde, who held a Heard Museum Guild internship in fall 2017, said her decision to accept a staff position with the Heard Museum shortly after graduating was an easy one.

“It encompasses all I was looking for: a focus on the art world, Native American artists and tribal communities, and making connections with people,” observed Clyde, who majored in design studies at ASU. “The atmosphere while I was an intern was always energetic, and rather than feeling like I was going to work, I felt like I was going to be with my family every day.” 

In her position with the curation and education staff, she’s supporting the museum’s fundraising work, doing research for donor cultivation, and helping coordinate messaging across all of the Heard membership groups and with nonmembers.

As an intern, Clyde got very involved in planning events from the ground up, and her innovations led to some impressive results.

“Tisha took on a lot of details involved in coordinating the annual Moondance Gala, held in conjunction with a significant exhibition opening each fall,” explained Dan Hagerty, the museum’s director of strategic development and programming. “With the Silent Auction, she helped build out an online component that allowed participants to bid on items before the day of the gala. The auction raised $60,000 more than ever before.”   

Telling human stories

Samantha Toledo has also grown her Heard Museum involvement beyond the boundaries of the guild internship. Toledo first began working in the education side of the Heard Museum as an intern with Monenerkit in spring 2017 while completing her undergraduate degree in English and secondary education. A May 2018 graduate of ASU’s master’s program in educational policy, she continues to contribute to the museum as an education specialist.

“I love that at the Heard Museum we’re basically dealing with human stories,” Toledo said, “and I appreciate that I can be creative and practice intuition in doing exhibit prep work and in designing mock-ups and materials for our public programs and presentations, such as exhibition lectures, educational and outreach initiatives with artist communities, hands-on activities for families and school tours, as well as public events.”

Toledo has participated, for example, in artists’ pottery workshops in San Diego and along the Colorado River in Parker, Arizona, and a weaving workshop in Window Rock, on the Navajo Reservation, which was quite a special experience.

“My grandmas have passed away, but it was like I was learning from my grandmothers to weave the proper way,” she said.

“The Indian art community is kind of small,” Monenerkit observed. “So including interns in significant opportunities to work with artists and museum professionals regionally and nationally, they really begin to build their networks.”

“Being with the artists and their art brings new measures of resiliency and flexibility of thought, especially for Native communities and students,” Toledo added. “The art and stories turn on a light for you in facing new challenges our societies have never come across before.

“Someday I may go back home to the Navajo reservation to teach,” she continued. “I didn’t have a Navajo English teacher when I was in high school. I’d like to be a role model as kids are at a point where they’re thinking about their future.”

Broadening the partnership

At ASU’s American Indian Convocation on May 9, Toledo and doctoral graduate Jameson “JD” Lopez were recognized with Heard Museum Eagle Spirit Awards, which the museum has sponsored at this special interest convocation since 2013. 

The awards, for which students apply for consideration, honor one master’s candidate and one doctoral candidate for academic achievement and service to community. They are emblematic of how the strong sense of connection and partnership between ASU’s American Indian Student Support ServicesASU American Indian Student Support Services is a unit of ASU's University College. and the Heard Museum continues to lead to other opportunities for mutual support.

“Sometimes the museum will contact us to see if students have interest in volunteer roles for special events,” Gonzales-Macias said, “which students often appreciate to meet community service requirements for scholarships, or to broaden their resumes.” 

Spending time at the Heard Museum is now an activity that American Indian Student Support Services regularly builds into its student programming, including its SPIRIT early-start program for indigenous freshman students. This year the Heard Museum sponsored the SPIRIT reunion for the 2017 freshman cohort. 

“Experiencing the museum’s broad emphasis on intertribal connections and on knowledge, art and lived culture of the 22 federally recognized tribes with lands in Arizona, can be very orienting,” Gonzales-Macias added.

Gonzales-Macias often shares with new ASU students the impact of her first visit to the Heard Museum when she moved to Arizona in 1993 as a first-year ASU graduate student.

“I was new to Arizona from Texas and wasn’t yet feeling connected here. My husband (then-fiancé) and I went up to the Heard’s annual American Indian Fair and Market, wanting to get a stronger sense of this place where we were living,” she said. “I came away feeling more grounded and had an especially nice conversation with an artist from the Winnebago tribe in Wisconsin. I purchased from her a beaded necklace and earrings to mail home to my mother. My mother has since passed, but I now have the jewelry, as well as the postcard I sent her describing our visit to the museum. It reminds me of a treasured time and a milestone in my experience.”


Maureen Roen

Editorial and communication coordinator, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts


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England's potential World Cup glory may shape country's attitude on Brexit

July 10, 2018

ASU professor draws parallel between globalization of English soccer and politics

When England won a penalty shootout against Colombia on July 3, it earned itself a place in the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1990. English fans were overjoyed — including Prime Minister Theresa May, who told the team via Twitter to “keep the flag flying for us.”

While May hopes to keep England’s flag flying at the World Cup in Russia, she’s struggling to find a way to lower a the European Union flag back at home. This week, the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union, known as Brexit, faces a political crisis after the resignations of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis. Arizona State University Professor Andrés Martinez sees a telling contrast between the political chaos surrounding Brexit — which has been widely interpreted as a rejection of globalization — and the English team’s success at the World Cup.

On the eve of England's semifinal match against Croatia, ASU Now spoke with Martinez, a professor of practice in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the editorial director of Future Tense, and a special adviser to ASU President Michael Crow. He is currently working on a book about the globalization of the English Premier League, supported by a seed grant from ASU’s Global Sport Institute.

Question: Before the World Cup, you wrote in The Los Angeles Times that if the English team were to find success in Russia, it might make the country want to "revisit its Brexit vote." And now during the final week of the tournament, Theresa May's government is coming apart at its seams over Brexit, and England is making a rare appearance in a World Cup semifinal. You really think these stories are related? 

andres Martinez
Andrés Martinez

Answer: Well, I do see a connection, and a contradiction, between what has been taking place in English politics, on the one hand, and on the playing field of the world’s most popular sport on the other — a sport the English themselves will always remind you they gave the world. To put it bluntly, English politics, much like politics everywhere in recent years, are retreating from globalization, while English football and sports more generally have been doubling down on globalization, and thriving as a result. The question now is whether sports or politics are the leading indicator of where society is headed.

Q: You mean that England is embracing globalization by succeeding in the most popular sporting event?

A: More than that, I am talking about English football being strengthened in recent years by its opening to the outside world. The English Premier League, the country's domestic football league, is a massive globalization success story. English football was very insular as recently as the early 1990s, but the league has within the last generation overtaken the Spanish and Italian leagues to become the world's strongest. Driven by the deregulation of the media marketplace, an openness to foreign investment, and EU rules allowing for the freedom of labor movement within the Union, the English Premier League has attracted foreign owners, foreign players, and foreign coaches. English owners, players, coaches — and fans too, when you think of the massive TV audiences the EPL commands in Asia and elsewhere — are all now a distinct minority in their own league. Imagine if in the NFL you had Americans as a minority in all those roles.

Q: Have fans in England resented this internationalization of their league?

A: Well, it’s interesting. For my research, I have been traveling to places like Manchester, Leicester and Swansea, cities in which their football clubs often date back to the 19th century and are more embedded in the local community than our sports teams. Now these teams are owned by billionaires in Abu Dhabi, America and Thailand, and they are followed by far more fans outside the U.K. than inside. All of this is both flattering and disturbing to local fans whose families have been rooting for these teams for generations, long before they played in what's become a world's all-star league. There’s an appreciation for how much the game has improved, but also a sense of the unease we see in other arenas when it comes to globalization, especially around the erosion of local identity. And obviously some foreign owners do a better job than others at preserving their clubs’ identity and community roots.

But the biggest criticism of the league’s globalization until now has been the protectionist charge that welcoming all the outside world’s stars to make their homes at the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool stunts the development of English-born talent, and ultimately hurts the English national team. 

Think of it as the sports equivalent of the classic import-substitution pitch to protect domestic industry from globalization and foreign competition. In a globalized Premier League, it's true that there are fewer starting positions for English nationals, and you can only send English nationals to represent your country at the World Cup. Foreign stars who play in English league still represent their countries of origin in international play. And in recent years, England’s team has not fared well in big tournaments like the World Cup and the Euros. The Premier League might be top notch, but England as a nation has been a second-tier football power, compared to perennial contenders Germany, Brazil and Argentina.

Q: So how significant is it that England has made it to the World Cup semifinals, and how does that affect whatever resentment fans have about their league being populated by outsiders? 

A: I’d say it is very significant. The relationship English fans have with their national team and the World Cup is rather amusing to us outsiders; a combination of existential angst, eternal hope, self-loathing and hubris. The English have only won the World Cup once, when they hosted the tournament in 1966, and have made the semifinals on only one other occasion, in 1990. And yet, English fans sing about the cup “coming home” if they win, as if it’s their birthright. The story of England in World Cups is one of almost invariable disappointment and spectacular collapses, and critics of the Premier League’s open-border strategy warned that the league’s cosmopolitanism would continue to keep England from becoming a dominant football power.

But now the widespread excitement in Britain around this team of young stars like Harry Kane and Jordan Pickford coached by the understated, vest-wearing Gareth Southgate is giving credence to a counternarrative and a counterthesis about the consequences of being open to the world and of welcoming outside talent. And that is, that these English players are better because they have to compete against the best players from all over the world every Saturday in their domestic league. And however commendable a job Southgate has done with the squad, he benefits from the fact that Harry Kane is coached year-round in his day job at Tottenham by one of Argentina’s best coaches; by the fact that John Stones has become a better defender under the guidance of Barcelona’s former coach, Pep Guardiola, at Manchester City; by the fact that midfielder Jordan Henderson has become a more aggressive passer under the coaching of Liverpool’s brilliant German coach Jürgen Klopp. And so on.  

The success of this team is a refutation of the Brexit thesis that Britain’s integration into the European Union and the outside world made the country weaker and less competitive. Quite the opposite. 

Q: But isn’t that a big leap? I mean, we’re talking sports here. Could there really be a spillover effect into English politics and other areas of life?   

A: I’m interested less in the sports story as such, or in the politics story, and more in the question of how people situate themselves in the world. How do we see ourselves connecting to place, and to others, both here and elsewhere? I think culture plays an important role in answering that question, and sport looms large as an influential identity-shaping form of popular culture.

It’s hard to quantify, of course, but I do think if you’re English you are going to feel better about your place in the world after this World Cup. And you will feel less likely to buy into arguments that all those imported stars — whom you might already appreciate if your home team is winning — are “hurting” English football.

The question now is whether you then analogize to other aspects of life. Is Britain made stronger or weaker by having its financial system be the hub for all European banking and a springboard into Europe for companies that can be headquartered anywhere? Are English companies made stronger or weaker by having to compete with foreign companies in a borderless world? And likewise, do English workers in the aggregate win or lose from having access to goods from all over the world, and being integrated into an EU-wide workforce?

There is undoubtedly a great deal of anxiety everywhere — we’ve certainly seen it in our politics here — about globalization and trade, and the dislocations that come with it. And there is an ancillary temptation to blame technology-driven dislocation and change on foreigners. 

But overall, I think there is a pretty compelling case to be made that for England, Europe and the rest of the world have represented more of an opportunity than a threat. And if you are a fan of globalization, you should root on the English team, because its success will make it easier to make that case going forward.

Written by Mia Armstrong