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.