Why did you decide to pursue an M.A. in Art History?
While in college I never considered the possibility of pursing an M.A in Art History. I was focused on the history of science in 19th-century Colombia, and felt that history was more my calling. I always had a passion for museums in general, and while studying English in Washington, D.C. I had the opportunity to intern at the Art Museum of the Americas (AMA) of the Organization American States (OAS). My main task as an intern was organizing their Art History Archives, and that was when I realized I wanted to pursue Latin American art history. I looked for a professor who could guide me along this new path, and came to know of Professor Michele Greet at GMU. I applied to George Mason, to have the opportunity to work directly with her.
What was your most rewarding class? Why?
This is quite a difficult question, as each of the classes I took provided me with different elements that I still use in my professional life. I think that the first class I took, a Transnational Surrealism seminar, was the class that not only challenged me the most, but also gave me a broader perspective on the intricacies, nuances, and complexities of the field. For this class I had the opportunity for lengthy archival research at the Archives of American Art, AMA, Library of Congress, and even to visit an artist archive at the artist’s wife’s home. This was a beautiful process of discovery and learning, which is what I enjoy the most about the art historian work.
So what are you up to now professionally?
Today I am the Curator of the Permanent Collection and Educational programs at the Art Museum of the Americas. I have been working here since that internship nine years ago, growing step by step within the museum. I am currently working on my first major curatorial project, a traveling exhibition based on AMA’s collection, Converging Cultures: Asian Diasporas and Latin American & Caribbean Art, 1945-Present. For this project AMA is partnered with International Arts and Artists. I am also organizing a small symposium on the occasion of the centennial of AMA’s founding director José Gómez Sicre’s birth. This program seeks to juxtapose Gómez-Sicre’s promotion of Cuban art in the 1940s with the efforts of scholars, modern and contemporary art museums and other institutions, both in Cuba and the United States, in support of contemporary Cuban art.
How has the M.A. program helped you with your career or your personal interests?
There is no doubt that my growth within the AMA is linked directly to GMU’s M.A. program. I worked full time at AMA while studying at George Mason part time. I utilized various aspects of AMA’s history, collection, and archives as the subject matter of each of the final assignments for my courses at GMU. Thanks to the opportunity to connect my work and studies, I was able to focus on what is today my main area of study: the trajectory of the OAS in the field of modern Latin American art.
Any career advice you would give to students in the program?
To any student in the program, I would suggest to take full advantage of the resources that Mason has, mostly to interact actively with the professors who are all more than willing to support students’ projects and ideas. I found this to be very much the case when I organized a conference on Caribbean art, and when I worked with another Mason student, Shira Loev, on the exhibition FUSION: Tracing Asian Migration to the Americas through AMA’s Collection. I also suggest working pretty hard in each internship opportunity, as internships often provide doorways to employment opportunities.