Sharing your point of view on African-American art

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Earlier this year, Starasea Nidiala Camara took advantage of an incredible opportunity by organizing an exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) titled “In the Presence of Our Ancestors: Southern Perspectives in African-American Art”, which takes place. will run until November 28.

Camara is a fourth year student at the College of Liberal Arts who is completing an individually designed interdepartmental bachelor’s degree in African Diaspora History and Visual Culture. Her opportunity came through the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which annually selects three undergraduates to work in museums across the country, including Mia. Mia recently produced a teacher’s guide to help explain the content of the exhibit to K-12 students in the metro area.

In this question-and-answer session, Camara talks about her experiences with the curator of the exhibition and the impact it has had on her career and personal journey.

Tell a little about your experience in art.

My own studio training is drawing and painting, but I experimented with ceramics, glass and soldering in my youth.

How did this opportunity come to you thanks to the Souls Grown Deep Foundation?

During my gap year between community college and U of M, I worked at Mia as a casual in their visitor experience department. When the Souls Grown Deep Foundation internship application opened, I was invited to apply and I went. The worst thing they can say is no, after all.

Explain the theme of the exhibition and the choice of materials used for the different works.

The thematic approach of the exhibition encompasses the ability to keep space and reflect with our ancestors, away from other commonly visited museum rooms. For me, it was important to present the works of the artists alongside their photos and their stories – with anecdotes from interviews archived by the foundation – to have the impression of listening to their great-aunt or their uncle tell them a story about how they created something beautiful. .

Can you explain why you chose the dark walls, and perhaps other aspects of the exhibition or works that someone might not consider at first glance?

I’ve only seen a few exhibits with dark walls before. It’s certainly not new, but it looks different and fits in here. I believe that whatever color palette a curator chooses for a show, it sets the tone for the audience. I wanted people to cross that threshold and come in with respect, and understand that there is a definite intention here before you engage in these stories. Yes, it’s just one piece, but I hope these works, their stories and the lives behind them will transport the people who engage with them.

How did the teacher’s guide come about?

This summer, I was contacted by Mia’s Learning Innovation department and asked if I would be interested in collaborating to develop a teacher’s guide for the exhibition. They were very interested in showcasing the content of the exhibit and making it accessible to K-12 educators in the metro area.

What was this whole experience for you?

It was really special to have my first exhibition covered in publications like Architectural summary, ANTIQUES Magazine, and the Minnesota Daily. This opportunity opened doors for me in a way that I never thought an internship could do. At first, I didn’t know that I was going to have an interview to directly organize let alone run an entire exhibition. I did not know that I would have the opportunity to share the space with so many beautiful souls who have marked me as a professional and as a person.

What are your plans for the future?

I am currently a member of the Emerging Curators Institute and working on my next upcoming project in 2022. Beyond that, I look forward to exploring, networking, researching and learning as much as possible, and I prioritize personal care.


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