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ASU and LACMA join forces to create a new, innovative program

The collaboration is intended to bring diversity to the art community

art museum diversity .jpg
"LACMA and ASU are working together to bring more diversity to art museum staff." Illustration published on Thursday, May 31, 2018.

ASU and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, (LACMA), have launched a partnership to create a more inclusive art community. This includes the installment of new programs to help advance the careers of students who want to be involved in the art industry. 

Miki Garcia, director of the ASU Art Museum, said that this program is a pipeline that will create a museum that is more diverse.

“We are ensuring that the field of art leaders in particular is going to be one that is reflective of the communities that they serve,” Garcia said, “(and) is going to be one that has multiple perspectives and multiple voices.”

Garcia said that a major perk of this collaboration is having access to LACMA’s curators, scholars, educators and other resources that a small museum like the ASU Art Museum wouldn’t normally have access to.

Joanna Grabski, professor and director of the School of Art, said that the ASU-LACMA collaboration stemmed from LACMA’s deep commitment to diversity, inclusion and access. 

“This program was one really important way to create the conditions where curators and museum employees can both get work experience full time and pursue a degree at the number one most innovative university in the country,” Grabski said.

Grabski said that they are in the pilot-phase right now. The new three-year program will offer five new fellow positions, where three of them will be at LACMA and two fellows will be at ASU. 

Grabski said that they are currently accepting applications from students who are already admitted into the art program who want to apply for a fellowship position. 

“In the future, we'll open up our admissions, so everybody can apply to join our program to pursue a degree path,” Grabski said. 

Angelica Afanador-Pujol, associate professor in the School of Art and program director for the ASU-LACMA fellowship, said that these are people who have their bachelor's but have not been able to move up in their careers because they lack a graduate degree, so this will enable them to apply for better positions.

Afanador-Pujol said that students will be able to work with the curators and other museum staff. 

“Often knowing people is what gets you in the door, so the ability to make that contact not just within LACMA or the ASU Art Museum, but with all the other coordinating exhibits and whatnot often takes, meeting a lot of artists, curators and people from other museums and other institutions,” Afanador-Pujol said.

Grabski said that the most immediate outcomes for the fellows and the students that are part of this program will be to have on the job work experience, while pursuing and completing a degree track in art history at the master's level. 

Afanador-Pujol said that one of the things that people have struggled with in art history in general is that it is a field that has been predominantly white and privileged for a very long time. 

She said that this new program provides people from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented communities an opportunity to get a graduate degree, while gaining hands-on experience working in the art field. 

“I think that this is a gain a for everybody,” Afanador-Pujol said. “Museums will be better able to connect with the public. So, to hear these voices, for the public to see themselves represented in the museum, in the staff, the ideas and the questions that museums will ask, I think that also transforms that relationship between museums and the public.”

Afanador-Pujol said that she is looking forward to working with the students, because she is expecting very motivated applicants and people who really want to involve themselves in the art world to apply for a fellow position. 

She said that it will be a challenging program to work almost full time as a student, but Afanador-Pujol is excited to work with the chosen students and see what they do with their lives after they finish their degree.

Garcia said that this is only the beginning for LACMA and ASU.

“This master's program is really the beginning of lots of different partnerships that we want to have with LACMA that hasn't really been decided yet,” Garcia said. “We are both looking at the future of how art institutions in America work and we want to get together to solve for a new reality.”

Reach the reporter at or follow @jessiemy94 on Twitter. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @mackinleyjade on Twitter. 

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