Karen Karyadi 2014-09-29 11:53:09
As one of the five fellows in the Association of Research Libraries/SAA Mosaic Program, Karen Karyadi is interning at the Getty Research Institute (GRI), where she has worked with a project team on the Harald Szeemann Collection—the single largest collection that GRI has acquired—processing physical materials and creating descriptive metadata. Karyadi explains how she became interested in the profession through her work in photography and art history and what she hopes to accomplish as a Mosaic Program Fellow. SAA: Why did you decide to pursue a career in archives? KK: I came to the archival world by way of my studies in photography and art history, where I developed a strong interest in the dynamic relationship between the visual and commercial arts and mass media, and how the acts of documentation, organization, and preservation of works in these areas are reflected in our general consciousness. My internship experiences further solidified my belief that our history is tied strongly to what is left and made available to us as a society. I realized that it falls largely to us in the archival profession to protect and, yet, make these important works accessible to ensure their awareness and appreciation today and tomorrow—with that, I knew my career path was set. SAA: What do you hope to accomplish as a result of your participation in the Mosaic Program? KK: I hope to become more involved and engaged in SAA as I gain a better and more nuanced understanding of the archival profession. It’s a very exciting time, where literal and figurative walls that used to limit us are being torn down. That presents an opportunity for us to establish a stronger professional network, and the Mosaic Program creates an avenue for students and fledgling archives professionals like myself to do exactly that and more. SAA: In your opinion, what’s one step the archives profession can take to further attract diverse individuals to the workforce? KK: One way is to reach out and to become more involved within local communities—especially those that are still underrepresented—and through community colleges and universities. As we actively engage the society that we serve and raise awareness of the important role that archives play, I believe that we can draw exceptional individuals into the profession who might not have even heard about it before. SAA: Thirty years from now, what do you hope peoples’ perception of the archives profession will be? KK: Many people that I have encountered in my daily life have asked, “What exactly is an archivist?” and I think that the issue behind that question is somewhat related to the previous question. The archival world may appear to be a rather rarefied field to most people outside of it and its related areas, and I would love to see that perception changed. We are not just keepers of the past; we are active members of society, helping to shape the present and the future by facilitating a better understanding of our histories. SAA: As an archivist, how will you help to diversify collections and bring more awareness to underrepresented cultures? KK: We live in a very image-driven society, but even with the proliferation of still and moving images that we have today, there are gaps and holes that are yet to be filled. At the same time, there are stories and perspectives behind these works that are left unrecognized, especially in collections that concern underrepresented cultures. As an archivist, I hope to work with image-makers and members of such cultures through the documentation, preservation, and exhibition of these diverse collections, and ensuring that their points of view are accurately and wholly presented.
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