For our two-part series “The Nation We Make Together,” Ravon and I are taking a longer look at issues that inspired us to start Brown Girls Museum Blog in the first place: questions of patriotism, marginal perspectives, and radical vulnerability all under the museum field umbrella. Our goal has always been to find our space in this industry, in these institutions, but that work cannot be done until we have made clear our positions relative to culture at large. If we don’t make it clear what we believe in, and how we struggle to reconcile our differences, the task of creating space will be impossible.
The first piece in this series began with a quote:
“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” —James Baldwin
With it, Ravon argued rightly that criticism is an act of love, and that to be critical of the nation is to make yourself be a citizen of it. In the tradition of Baldwin, and in agreement with my co-blogger, I also insist on my right to critique. I would add that in addition to being an act of love and belonging, critique is an act of creation. Although it’s easy to think of criticism as a negation, simply tearing down something made by someone else, in its best form, critique creates new possibilities and offers a different view of the world and the object it’s aimed at.
When we think about criticism — of an artwork, of an institution, of a nation — as a kind of making, we open ourselves up to the opportunities of new perspectives. Instead of fearing criticism and its ability to destroy, we start to think about the mindset behind it, and what it might be like to live inside that perspective. For museums that silo the creations of artists, historians, and culture workers, making and criticism are deeply intertwined, and being aware of that connection will make the work we do all the more compassionate.Read More
It has taken me two years to write this post. It is the reason this blog was created, but it wasn’t until recently that I found the words and the courage to write it, unapologetically. We’ve had a lot to contemplate, here at the blog, and we’re excited to finally share the conversations we’ve been […]Read More
Not long ago, Ravon weighed in on what she saw for the future of museums based on the activist and academic perspectives we have always brought to our work through this site. What she wrote about the need for museums to take on the role of coordinating and centering the wide-ranging activist efforts of their communities through the important work of making and providing space is something I completely agree with. This is exactly the kind of work we encourage institutions to do, and try to perform ourselves as well. Today I want to talk about this same work in a different direction: not just activism, museums should also be vector points for academic efforts too.Read More
The recent election. A new year. A blog two years in the making. These are all the things that have us thinking about where to go next. We chose to write “Future of Museums” as a two-part post, to give insight from our individual perspectives as they are shaped by academia and museums, and so I […]Read More
As 2016 comes to a close, we inevitably find ourselves in a state of reflection––on the course of the year, the recent election, and looking toward the future. We were honored to be invited to join a conversation hosted by ArtTable DC, State of Art 3, that would allow us to do this contemplation around […]Read More
When I was invited to speak at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) for their Digital Dialogue series, I had previously been thinking more on the use of social and digital media platforms as sites of radical archiving, as alternatives pushing the bounds on traditional notions of archives. Here are some brief highlights from my talk: […]Read More
from: Ravon Ruffin to: Amanda Figueroa date: Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 11:14 AM subject: AAM: What’s the Feels? Hey, So now that we’ve had some time to decompress, evaluate, and re-evaluate. What was your take on AAM this year? I’ll go ahead and say, that being that it was our first AAM experience […]Read More
Words have always been important to me — there was no question that language was going to be central to the message Ravon and I wanted to communicate during our chance to speak at AAMD. While Ravon’s talk focused on putting an end to tired vocabulary like “diversity” and “inclusion,” I spoke about possible alternative language that could get at intersectionality without sacrificing specificity. To keep that sense of community present, I turned to the realm of geography.Read More
Amanda and I were fortunate to have the opportunity to speak at the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) conference in Cleveland this month. We were invited as part of a young thought leaders session on diversity and inclusion. Our presentations were a moment to think through the language of diversity, and how we foresee […]Read More
Women, Archives & Self-Preservation Please see the list below of women, primarily women of color, in the archives. We see this list as inclusive of diverse voices and critical perspectives to center marginalized voices. These are narratives not often included or highlighted in the history texts, and therefore are not part of the historical canon. […]Read More