Growing up undocumented in a working class, mixed-status family, questions of injustice were often on my mind, as was the perceived pressure to pursue a career that would make my parents’ sacrifices worth it. When I began my undergraduate education, I naturally chose Political Science as my major—I dreamt initially of going on to law school, defending and supporting my parents and somehow, through my success, proving myself worthy of citizenship. In my many classes on constitutional law and political theory, however, I felt isolated from my peers whose relationship to the bureaucracy of the legal system was different from mine and who felt safer talking about their experiences than I could.
In my third year of college, I began interning at the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG), a political poster archive that approaches materials in the collection as historical documents and works of art. It was a stroke of luck that lead me there, a mixture of pending major requirements, astrological guidance, and a quick search for the word “political” on my school’s Career Center website. I didn’t know what an archive was and didn’t understand words in the job description like “cataloguing” or “preservation.” The organization’s website, however, advertised an upcoming exhibition titled No Human Being is Illegal using Yolanda Lopez’s well-known artwork, “Who’s the Illegal Alien, Pilgrim?” I had never heard my humanity defended in such a beautiful and assertive way, and Lopez’s defiant mix of anger and humor transcended immigration narratives I was used to. Despite my confusion around what the work entailed, I was allured by the images and applied.
“Bigger Than Any Border,” Julio Salgado
Once the archival internship began, I quickly fell in love with CSPG’s collection of social movement prints and posters. Through the task of cataloguing the collection, I became exposed to migrant artists documenting their own existence as well as that of dynamic grassroots movements for change. The first time I came across Julio Salgado’s artwork, I felt empowered by his colorful characters who boldly exclaimed, “Undocumented, unafraid, and unapologetic!” and “No Sir, I will NOT show you my papers.” Through these vibrant and seductive artworks, I learned about immigrant communities actively resisting xenophobic policies like Arizona’s SB1070 and the Secure Communities program. By showing that others like me were openly fighting to defend our humanity, the artwork allowed me to overcome feelings of shame and isolation.
Learning the practice and theory of archiving was life changing, especially because the posters I worked with provided alternative realities to me for the first time. In addition to teaching me more about my own identities, the collection exposed me to struggles for justice all over the world, from Zapatistas in Chiapas to Palestinians in Gaza and beyond. The artwork documented an intimate side of political history I’d never learned about in my classes, one where organized groups of people challenge their oppressors and win. For someone of undocumented status, documenting these victories was a new and radical possibility that changed my personal, political, and professional trajectory.
About the Author/CAM Fellow:
Karen Limón Corrales received her B.A. in Political Science and English Literature at California State University, Long Beach. She was a Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Intern in 2014 at the Center for the Study of Political Graphics and has since worked at various museums in communications, education, and visitor engagement. She currently works at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
By Michaeleen Gallagher, GMI Committee Member, CAM Board Member, and CAM Past President
As California continues to lead in areas related to environmental accountability, the state’s museum community will also see new legislation and regulations that affect our operational practices. CAM’s Government Relations Committee already reviews bills that may affect museums overall. Moving forward, CAM’s Green Museums Initiative Committee (GMI) will also be looking at legislation that affects museum operations with a focus on how they relate to sustainability and the environment.
GMI will utilize CAM’s blog as a platform to share this information as well as engage in other discussions on green programming and environmental accountability in California museums. As this collaborative model progresses, we hope to increase our cross-committee approach to expand the scope of perspectives and bolster the work of all of CAM’s committees.
In this first blog post, we will highlight AB 802, a bill passed in 2015 that goes into effect on June 1, 2018. AB 802 specifically addresses benchmarking energy use and is intended to provide building owners and stakeholders with information about their building’s energy performance. In the U.S., twenty-four cities and one county are already requiring this type of annual energy benchmarking. The data provided through the benchmarking process helps utilities and governments identify areas of need when designing programs that provide financing, technical expertise, and training.
According to the California Energy Commissions (CEC), the information can also inform real estate investment decisions. Museums can take this opportunity to show leadership in operational practices, allowing us to highlight areas where we are already providing sustainable models. According to the CEC, it may also open funding opportunities and expertise partnerships to achieve increased energy efficiency and share those successes.
Note: It’s important to understand that although the bill refers to “commercial buildings,” in our conversations with the CEC, this designation is a general definition and will include museums. Eventually the regulations will include all commercial and multi-unit residential buildings in California.
How does AB 802 affect institutions in 2018?
“AB 802 requires that utilities provide whole building, aggregated energy use data to owners of commercial and multifamily residential buildings upon request, and requires that owners of buildings larger than 50,000 square feet report their buildings’ energy use to the California Energy Commission by June 1 each year.” – CEC
Institutions that meet ALL of the following criteria are included in the 2018 reporting:
What is the responsibility of the utilities?
What is the responsibility of the building owners that meet the three requirements listed above?
How do institutions report energy data and how is it used?
Who will be included beginning in 2019?
Additional information can be found at www.energy.ca.gov/benchmarking/.
Museums that are not currently required to participate can still opt-in by voluntarily reporting their energy data with the EPA’s Energy Star platform. This will offer those institutions the opportunity to see where their buildings rate in relation to other institutions and building types. This can help inform operational decisions that improve your energy use.
CAM’s GMI Committee will continue to monitor trends and practices that can be shared through this blog. Please stay tuned!
Michaeleen Gallagher has a B.A. in Art History and a M.S. in Evironmental Policy & Management. She has developed curriculum and programming at the Reuben H. Fleet Science and Technology Center in San Diego, The Living Desert in Palm Desert, and the Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter in North Carolina. She spent three years teaching in Japan, has been a symposium speaker for wildlife organizations in NC and VA; and has two published teacher guides for the IMAX™ films, The Magic of Flight and Everest, and in 2014 published the book Art & Nature: The Gardens of Sunnylands. She is now the Director of Education & Environmental Programs at Sunnylands, developing science, art programming, and sustainability policies.