Past and Present Internship Program Participants:
Bianca (Recent VA high school graduate, university student in the fall, descended from a Basque family from the kingdom of Navarre, with Panamanian grandparents): Working with MOCHA in 2015 was one of the most enriching experiences I have ever had. The diversity of art, cultures, and wisdom that the collection and the staff contain is unparalleled. MOCHA is unique. I am currently living in Spain, with thousands of museums to explore, and yet MOCHA’s collection of African American, Latino, and other minority art still stands out. Aside from it’s collection, MOCHA has the heart of a nonprofit, as it works to help and represent artists in the community who would otherwise receive no recognition due to their race, class, ethnicity, or artistic and cultural style. This is what makes the museum so amazing, and I have faith that MOCHA will only grow and that art by America’s immigrant artists that should be represented will become known and highly regarded through MOCHA.
I learned so much about art and many different cultures through working with MOCHA and having access to the collection and information, and I only hope that many others will have such an opportunity. This is something worth having. (2/2016)
Ashley (VA college student, Salvadorian and Nicaraguan roots): Interning at MOCHA is a great and unexpected experience. With staff members who have a deep appreciation, knowledge, and love of art — it´s almost impossible not to learn and be inspired by the different art works and cultures represented at this museum. Throughout my childhood, I was blessed to be able to travel to Europe and Central America, visit many amazing and historic museums, and learn about art history. But in just three months at MOCHA, my eyes have been opened to the importance of showing the art of diverse cultures all in one place, without regard for class or ethnicity. This museum has left an impression of unique authenticity unseen in others in the area, and I believe it truly respects and embodies the voice of the artist.
I am grateful for, and appreciate, the time I spend at MOCHA because I learn something every day that shows me the beauty of our diverse cultures in America. I hope that this art experience can, and will, be shared with other young adults and youth in the community — to inspire and grow their appreciation of art, like it has grown in me. (3/2016)
(Ms.) Krishna (DC university senior, visual arts and pre-medical student, from Nepal): When I came to MOCHA, Director Zuver’s experience and connections to India and Kashmir, and his vast knowledge of indigenous peoples, right away connected me to the land of the brave Nepalese soldiers known as Gurkhas, and the birthplace of Buddha. Immediately, I felt grateful and welcomed. This is the place where your identity is sincerely respected and valued as a treasure to bring diversity into the museum, which is one of our goals: to honor America’s native and immigrant heritages.
MOCHA has almost been like my second home because of the genuine love and support that I get here. One of my responsibilities is helping the museum connect to artists, as another of our goals is to recognize America’s talented artists equally — past and present, native and immigrant. As a beginner artist, I feel truly honored to meet artists from our area. I could not believe that I met Foon Sham (Hong Kong-born major sculptor/University of Maryland art professor) one day when I came to the museum, after Mr. Zuver and I had appreciated his sculpture works and had written him. I was thrilled.
I am also learning about art history and artists in Mr. Zuver’s past exhibitions. And, I get incredible hands-on experience restoring and preserving valuable artworks by also working with Sang-su Lee, a conservator (former chief curator of the Busan Museum of Art, South Korea). My museum internship blends very well with my studio-art background, thus, my university is giving me course credit for interning.
In short, my experience at MOCHA is almost like being on a swing, and whirling joyfully all around the world of art: from being an artist, to meeting and learning about artists and helping the staff overcome challenges involving fundraising to make MOCHA’s exhibition space and programs a reality. And, I have learned that, being a good artist is not just about creating your piece in the studio; it is also about connecting to the general public and the community that cares for you, and is interested to learn and inspire in return. (3/2016)
Sofia (2014 Oregon University graduate with a B.A. in Spanish; working in NYC; French, Irish, and German heritage): Interning at MOCHA in 2015 was one the most educational and fascinating experiences I have ever had. Having spent most of my life in Oregon, surrounded by a fairly homogenous community, I never imagined I would one day work with such a diverse group of people. The MOCHA staff opened my eyes to a vast array of artists and cultures, as well as my own family history. In a few months, I learned more about my heritage than I had in my entire life. The staff’s infectious passion for learning and creativity provided me an experience I could not have had anywhere else.
One of the first things Marc Zuver asked me when I met him was, “What languages do you speak?” I told him I spoke Spanish. He asked, “Well, what else?” “English,” I replied. Marc laughed because, being a polyglot, he saw knowing a second language as being just the beginning. At that precise moment, I decided he was right and promised myself that I, too, would become a polyglot. I have been pushing towards that goal ever since. Marc encouraged me to learn French, and even tutored me when we had free time.
I am ever grateful for learning so much at MOCHA about art and culture, but more importantly, about myself. In addition to meeting talented people I otherwise would never have had the opportunity to meet, and discovering skills I didn’t know I possessed and topics I didn’t know existed — I learned that the educational journey never really ends; there is always more to learn. Thank you MOCHA for igniting my passion for knowledge. I know you will continue to inspire future interns as you have inspired me. (3/2016)
Frances (2015 American University graduate, BA in Art History, Black American heritage): In the winter of 2014, I was unable to attend my second semester as a junior undergraduate student at American University because tuition payments were putting too much of a financial strain on my parents. I was in dire straits and looking for a way to stay proactive. I decided my time and efforts would be best spent gaining experience in my college major, Art History. I found solace in interning at the museum where I could use my skills as a scholar and keep those abilities up to date.
After over 40 years, the museum made its transition to MOCHA, the new non-profit museum dedicated to showcasing a large array of artworks created by Latinos, Chicanos, Indigenous people of the Americas, people of the African Diaspora, and Ex-Soviets. I participated in assisting and overseeing Fondo del Sol’s transition to MOCHA. It was a rewarding experience to help install artwork into the new space and to attain firsthand knowledge about curatorial practices.
As a MOCHA intern, I enjoyed writing papers about Chicano artists based on films and documents found in the museum’s archive. Having access to such precious materials and having the ability to discuss topics with someone as knowledgeable as Director Marc Zuver was definitely an auspicious opportunity.
While at MOCHA, it was my duty to work collaboratively with museum visitors and museum staff. In this position, I had the opportunity to teach and instruct a Guatemalen junior intern. For nearly a month, I helped the museum’s youngest intern with her art- related school work and projects. I reviewed her art work by giving constructive advice. I also planned simple drawing lessons such as drawing contour lines, drawing from observation, and rendering still life works. As a young artist beginning high school, she was looking for guidance and support for her artistic future. As her mentor, I made it my goal to give her all the guidance and support she needed to grow as an artist. I am satisfied knowing that I used my understanding as both an artist and scholar to give her the confidence to continue developing her artistic abilities.
Once I could afford to return to American University, I was able to take the knowledge I learned as an intern at MOCHA and apply them to my studies. I have since graduated and I am now making it my goal to attain a Master’s degree in Art Criticism. And so, I am truly thankful to have worked at MOCHA. (3/2016)
Shown at top of page: Leopard Mask, Chiapas, Mexico