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Gallery and Museum Graduates Recall Queensborough as Key to Career Options in the Museum Field

“This is like being at the theatre on opening night!” exclaimed Queensborough graduate Angelica Pomar, age 20, who recently returned to the College to attend a speaking engagement entitled, Artists Respond to Authoritarianism, part of series related to the Kupferberg Holocaust Center’s (KHC) exhibit, Survivance and Sovereignty on Turtle Island: Engaging with Contemporary Native American Art.

Pomar, who holds an Associate in Science degree in Gallery and Museum Studies, is now at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) studying Art History for Museum Professionals.  She is a part-time official staff member at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), where she began working through an Internship Partnership with Queensborough Community College’s Gallery and Museum Studies Program initiated by Professor Kat Griefen and Carla Hernandez who is a registrar at MAD.  Pomar plans to specialize in art education and programming.

“A highlight of my experience at Queensborough was the opportunity to be a part of the student team for this exhibit—researching the artists, brainstorming ideas and working with Professor Griefen and students on the curating team.”

Laura B. Cohen, Ph.D., Executive Director of the KHC, added, “The Center has a long tradition of mentoring students and working with faculty members from across Queensborough’s community on projects exploring how the lessons of the Holocaust continue to reverberate in myriad forms throughout our society, and in their daily lives. Our partnership with the Gallery and Museum Studies program is a wonderful example of the valuable experiences our students receive by working on exhibitions that creatively connect this tragic history to contemporary expressions of racism and prejudice in conjunction with the development of their professional skillsets.”

The Survivance exhibit entailed two years of such collaboration between Queensborough faculty and students; Indigenous partners and advisors; Kupferberg Holocaust Center staff and community members.

“Much of the conversation around museums today pertains to whether the makeup of museum collections, exhibitions and staff represent the diverse New York communities they seek to serve,” said Griefen. “As Queensborough offers the only A.S. degree in Gallery and Museum Studies in CUNY we know we are one of the few affordable entry points into the field.  I am proud to see the diverse and talented students and alumni of the QCC Gallery and Museum Studies contributing to this discussion and bringing what they learn here at Queensborough to their advanced degree programs and their professional work in the field.”

Born and raised in Queens, Pomar added, “The College has a large art department but the mentorship I received from my professors made it feel personal. They went out of their way to nurture my ambitions from the time I enrolled in 2017 to the day I graduated. Not many students at this stage in their career would have so many options in the museum field.” 

Queensborough alumna Karla Medina, also a student curator at FIT, noted that she too was first introduced to the idea of being a museum curator while a student at Queensborough.

“I loved the exposure. We spent most of the time out and about at galleries and museums, or taking advantage of internship opportunities at the QCC Art Gallery, A.I.R. Gallery in Dumbo, Museum of Art and Design, Brooklyn Museum and especially the KHC. I had no idea I could gain real-world experience like this at a community college.” Last June Medina was hired to work at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution in New York.              

The artworks and the words of 16 significant contemporary Native American Artists from diverse backgrounds and from various different sovereign nations make up the exhibit, Survivance and Sovereignty on Turtle Island: Engaging with Contemporary Native American Art. Their work addresses resistance, remembering and survival in the face of hundreds of years of mass atrocities and other forms of attempted erasure.

The collaborative curatorial team was led by Danyelle Means (Oglala Lakota) and Queensborough faculty member in Gallery and Museum Studies from the Art & Design Department, Kat Griefen, who serves as the current KHC Curator-in-Residence. The curatorial team includes Exhibit Advisor, Diane Fraher (Osage); QCC Gallery and Museum students and graduates; KHC senior staff and fellows; and a committee of KHC community members.

Exhibiting Artists: Gina Adams, Nadema Agard, Pena Bonita, Dennis RedMoon Darkeem, Judy Dow, RYAN! Elizabeth Feddersen, Nicholas Galanin, Shan Goshorn, Merritt Johnson, Erica Lord, Jason Lujan, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Mario Martinez, Meryl McMaster, Kent Monkman and Renelle White Buffalo.

Captured in image (left to right): Angelica Pomar, Kat Griefen, Karla Medina, Danyelle Means, Nadema Agard, Renelle White Buffalo, Judy Dow