The Balboa Art Conservation Center (BACC) in partnership with the Centro Cultural de la Raza presents Preserving Chicana/o/x Art: Conversations on Conservation. Through a series of informal dialogues- artists, community organizers, scholars, conservators, curators and administrators will explore issues of representation, cultural production, culturally responsive approaches to conservation, and community led standards for the care and preservation of Chicana/o/x cultural collections. The webinar series kicks off Thursday April 7th.
As museums move towards diversifying their collections it is important to have an understanding of the investment and process associated with stewarding and conserving Chicana/o/x artworks. “Conservation Centers like BACC are increasingly seeing more and more works by BIPOC artists come through the labs, which is long overdue, and also a reminder that the time is now to set standards for the care of these works. BACC is proud to be partnering with the Centro to engage in these conversations, understanding that as part of our mission to be an inclusive organization, we must follow the lead of communities in this important work” said Leticia Gomez Franco, Executive Director of the Balboa Art Conservation Center. “We’re excited to be in conversation with a truly stellar roster of community leaders.”
Graduate Student Magdalena Solano is BACC'S 2021 Paintings Summer Intern
I originally presented this as a talk titled From Intention to Intentionality: Centering Equity, Inclusion, and Representation in Cultural Preservation at the two-day colloquium, Diversity in Collections Care: Many Voices, organized by The Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) in March 2021. Because it memorializes the beginnings of a monumental shift for Balboa Art Conservation Center (BACC) , the script from that talk has been transcribed and formatted to be shared here.
I join you today from the ancestral homelands of the Kumeyaay Nation. Colonially known as the San Diego/Tijuana border region of Southern California/Baja California Norte. The Kumeyaay peoples continue to maintain their connection to, and care for, this land.
Last summer, like many of your institutions, in the throes of dual pandemics, covid-19 and systemic racism and violence against the Black community, BACC decided it was time to make a change. After much thought, staff conceived of Preserve Community Art. This initiative was born in response to both a long standing need to acknowledge systemic racism and exclusion in the field of conservation as well as in direct and immediate response to the Summer of 2020 movement led by Black Lives Matter to address racial injustice. In its initial form, Preserve Community Art sought to support the documentation and preservation of San Diego Protest Art. The staff got to work on creating guidelines for protest art preservation and preventive care and put a call out to community members who could benefit from what BACC had to offer.
The staff at the time, put much thought into how to approach this work. It was, after all, a new direction. Assuming, like most of us do, that if we took the time and the resources to build it, "they" would come. BACC built it, but much to its surprise "they" did not come. BACC did have the opportunity to work with a couple community led projects, but in all honesty, the Black community, whose historical exclusion from these services was what inspired the creation of Preserve Community Art - was not engaged.
I titled this talk From Intention to Intentionality.
BACC's intention was to address the disparity in access to conservation services and engage the Black community and communities of color in art conservation. But intentions, as well intentioned as they may be, are passive.
Intentions are what we wake up with in the morning.
What we say to ourselves in the mirror to remind us that we've got this.
What we whisper into the wind.
We put intentions out, because we believe in some cosmic flow that will take them somewhere and materialize them for us. But Intentions are just that. Mutterings of what we want.
The journey from intention to intentionality is a long one. It starts with intention, sure. we need those. to verbalize what is in our hearts. But without intentionality, those intentions just sit there idly.
For BACC, Preserve Community Art was intention.
BACC marked this year's Preservation Week – which had the theme "Preserve Community Archives" – by posting action items on our social media pages to help people learn how to better preserve the art in their communities. In the same spirit of the week we compiled and archived the posts here for easy access.
Next week (April 25 - May 1) is Preservation Week! What is Preservation Week, you ask?
Well, it was all started by the American Library Association. In 2005, the first comprehensive national survey of the condition and preservation needs of the nation’s collections reported that U.S. institutions hold more than 4.8 billion items. Libraries alone hold 3 billion items (63% of the whole). A treasure trove of uncounted additional items is held by individuals, families, and communities. These collections include books, manuscripts, photographs, prints and drawings, and objects such as maps, textiles, paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and furniture, to give just a sample. They include moving images and sound recordings that capture performing arts, oral history, and other records of our creativity and history. Digital collections are growing fast, and their formats quickly become obsolescent, if not obsolete.
Some 630 million items in collecting institutions require immediate attention and care. 80% of these institutions have no paid staff assigned responsibility for collections care; 22% have no collections care personnel at all. Some 2.6 billion items are not protected by an emergency plan. As natural disasters of recent years have taught us, these resources are in jeopardy should a disaster strike. Personal, family, and community collections are equally at risk.
Now the ALA encourages libraries and other institutions to use Preservation Week to connect our communities through events, activities, and resources that highlight what we can do, individually and together, to preserve our personal and shared collections.
This year’s Preservation Week theme is Preserve Community Archives.
BACC will be posting action items on how YOU can help preserve the art in your community throughout this year's Preservation Week. Stay tuned!