Meet Jasmine Magaña
Full Name: Jasmine Magaña
Where do you work: Albright-Knox Art Gallery
What is your job title: Curatorial Assistant
What does your average day in the museum look like: Seemingly unpredictable–a day could be full of meetings and sending/answering correspondence or it could be running back and forth between the galleries or other museum departments, problem-solving and moving projects along.
What (project, initiative, etc.) are you currently working on right now for your museum: I am currently co-organizing (with curatorial fellow Andrea Alvarez) the AK's presentation of the Brooklyn Museum's phenomenal exhibition We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-1985.
What is your educational background: I have a BA from Seattle University--double-majored in Art History and Strategic Communication--and a Masters degree in Art History & Theory from the University of Essex (with the help of a Fulbright award).
What led you to the museum field: Museum education. I worked in a middle school throughout undergrad and when I finally made the decision to add Art History as my second major I was really looking for a way I could combine my interests in education, community organizing, and art. I spent a summer as the education intern at the Getty Museum as part of the Getty's Multicultural Undergraduate Internship program, and it was there that I learned about the different careers that exist in museums.
What are your earliest memories in a museum: As a kid, my parents would take me to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles on days offs. We would spend the day wandering through the exhibits. It was really the only museum I went to until I was in high school.
Any obstacles you've had to overcome to get to where you are now in the field: As a working class, first-generation American there are plenty of obstacles that have presented themselves, from financial constraints to seemingly-trivial things like not having the necessary background to navigate networking. Trying to learn my way around the art world has been something I have recently begun coming to terms with, it's the whole process of tackling 'imposter syndrome'.
How did you overcome these obstacles: It is an on-going process.
What has been your proudest moment with regard to where you are in your career and the work you do in the field: It has been a series of little moments, every time we open a new exhibition or release a publication that I've had a hand in bringing into fruition, I feel extremely proud. Nothing does quite compare to seeing your name on the wall after "This exhibition was organized by...," though. That, and seeing visitors interact excitedly with artworks that I connected with enough that I wanted to showcase them.
What advice would you give a student thinking about entering the field: Take care of yourself. There is a lot of pressure to do unpaid internships and constantly volunteer your time, but if it is not right for you, it's okay. There are other ways to show interest and dedication in something that don't require giving away your labor.
What book/source/link would you recommend to learn more about the kind of work you do: If you're Los Angeles-based I would recommend the Getty's MUI program: http://www.getty.edu/foundation/initiatives/current/mui/index.html. I participated in this program twice, once at the Getty and the second time at the Museum of Latin American Art. The contacts I made and the skills I learned because I was able to dedicate myself to a full-time internship without having to worry about money (the internships are paid!) have been invaluable.
What's next for you in your career: I'm very open right now. I'm always looking out for new opportunities and new projects. I'm working on a few things independently and with partners from Feminista Social Club, a community building and strengthening group I co-founded in 2016 to provide a support network for womxn.
What is your favorite museum to go to other than your own and why: This is a difficult question, there are many museums that I return to again and again because of their exhibitions program or programming. If I had to narrow it down to just one, I would have to say MOCA, Los Angeles, since it is where I fell in love with contemporary art.