Sunday, September 23, 2018

Seeing the Desert through a New Lens

~ Zack Sanchez-Chong Cuy, Education Specialist

On Saturday, September 22, the Imperial Valley Desert Museum hosted its Desert Photography Day with Macro Photographer Robert Marcos.  As a member of staff at the IVDM, I was fortunate enough to attend this exclusive event. Beforehand, I had no experience whatsoever in photography.  I was definitely nervous: I knew nothing about photography as an expressive art form, and this was my first event working for the museum. Thankfully, none of those fears came into play.

From the beginning, I was quite comfortable.  Many of us came to event with little or no experience, instead united by our love for desert photography and, really, the desert itself. This made for a very warm and welcoming experience for all of us.

Robert Marcos talked to us about his approach to macro photography, where one views what would typically be considered a common object through a zoom lens and the manipulation of that object using lighting and angles.  The result is an incredibly up-close and detailed view of objects that we otherwise overlook, which teaches that even the most common of things are quite complex and that there is beauty everywhere within nature when one takes a closer look.  Robert Marcos calls this his “revelation of finding beauty with the most minute things that inhabit the earth.”

Following his informative and quite entertaining lecture, we followed with a short hike across the museum property where we all applied what we had just learned. Robert Marcos' approach to desert photography was fresh and insightful, and was a great tool to add to my interpretation of our desert environment which ultimately carries over into other things.  There is beauty in everything around us: we just have to look at things through a different lens. Sometimes, it requires another person's perspective to help shape our own. I had a blast at the event and look forward to continue learning and growing along with the great people who support the museum and everything we do.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

A New Curatorial Research Fellow

~ Ryan McHale, Curatorial Research Fellow

Hello my name is Ryan McHale and I was recently hired by the Imperial Valley Desert Museum as the new Curatorial Research Fellow. I was born and raised in Hamilton, New Jersey and still call Hamilton home. I lived in Burlington, Vermont for four years while completing my Bachelors’ degree in History with a minor in Italian Studies at the University of Vermont. Upon graduating I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where I completed a Master’s degree in Ancient History at the University of Edinburgh. 

I aspire to be a curator and am eager to gain more professional experience in museum management. Previously, I was an intern at the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont working within the Collections Department. I also worked at two museums in Perugia, Italy in exhibitions and archives. I was particularly drawn to IVDM because of its aim to expand beyond the traditional notion of a museum. I find it extremely important to preserve local history and engage with the community. IVDM does this in a very unique way with art, art education, and the promotion of traditional crafts. The chance to interact with history and the surrounding desert environment creates a memorable experience and makes history relevant to each visitor. 

With each passing day, I am realizing the rich culture and history within the Imperial Valley. History is my passion and I strongly believe that anyone can like history, it is just a matter of finding something that they can relate to. I strive to develop the same passion and curiosity that I have for history in others. While at the IVDM I will be working on a number of curatorial and archival projects. I am eager to explore the museum’s collection and share with you what excites me. Stay tuned for my first temporary exhibit! 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

A New Education Coordinator

~Andrew Alvarez, Education Coordinator

My name is Andrew Alvarez, and I am happy to anounce that I have been hired by the Imperial Valley Desert Museum as the new Education Coordinator. Born in Northern California to migrant parents, I’ve come to live in multiple places.  Merced, Oakland, Imperial Valley, and most recently Mexicali, Baja California, are some of the places I’ve called home, but none of them have seen me grow as much as Imperial Valley.  In the Valley, I was (and still am) able to develop a sense of self through schooling, experiences with my community, and institutions such as Imperial Valley Desert Museum.  There was also an opportunity to grow on academic settings, which allowed me to express myself through essays, research papers on a variety of subjects, and presentations in and outside the US. 

It was through the SDSU-IV’s History Department that I gained a renewed appreciation for our region.  As with everyone that has lived in the valley, I could not wait to get out.  Circumstances led to me remaining in the Imperial Valley, and I enrolled at SDSU-IV where I was able to enroll on courses that changed my perspective about the region and myself.   At SDSU-IV, I developed an interest in my family history and the migration of my family through Mexico, and eventually, the United States.   This sparked interest in the migration of people from other countries to the United States, and people from the United States to other countries.  In my personal research, I’m exploring the topic of "Stateless Women", who were Mexican women married to Chinese men, who were then deported during Mexico’s anti-Chinese sentiment movements. It was also at SDSU that I met Dr. Neal Hitch and Marcie Landeros, who together introduced me to Imperial Valley Desert Museum as a research intern.

As for the future, I have reenrolled in SDSU-IV to complete a teaching credential with a bilingual authorization.  This would allow me to share my experiences and reach out to students who are struggling with who they are as migrant students, English Language Learners, or commuting from Mexicali to Imperial Valley every day.