2019 Parents Fund Internship Grant Reflections: Rebekah Boggs

Internship Location: Franklin Furnace

Journal Entry #1:

My name is Rebekah Boggs. I am rising fourth-year student studying Art History and Computer Science. This summer I am working at Franklin Furnace, an avant-garde arts organization based at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Historically, Franklin Furnace has served as a safe, exhibition space for performance art works and a library for donated artist books. After donating the majority of its collection of artist books to the Museum of Modern Art, the principal efforts of Franklin Furnace have gone towards providing funding for performance art projects for emerging artists, as well as, maintaining its collection of remaining artist books. Its mission is to is to present, preserve, interpret, proselytize and advocate on behalf of avant-garde art, especially forms that may be vulnerable due to institutional neglect, cultural bias, their ephemeral nature, or politically unpopular content. In addition to its annual awarding of performance art grants, Franklin Furnace also serves the community through enriching, public programs. Those programs include, Sequential Art for Kids (SEQ ART), which is a program that places professional artists in public schools in New York City, and SU CASA, which provides a variety of art programs, such as dance, visual arts, and theater to senior centers throughout New York City.

This summer I will be assisting in the public service programs put on by Franklin Furnace along with a team of other college student interns. My team is also preparing to curate an exhibition focused on the artistic achievements of mentally or physically disabled artists that Franklin Furnace has worked with in the past.  My first week here went very well, I already feel very comfortable and engaged in the work that has been presented to me. Before jumping into tasks, I spent much of my first hours engaging myself with rich scholarship about performance art as a pedagogy. It was validating and refreshing as a student of art historical studies to be immersed in the contemporary ways art is being utilized in the classroom for cultural mobility and personal development. Performance art as a pedagogy allows for students to unravel the questions they may face about their identity through individual self-reflections or about the society they are a part of, through interactions with their classmates. These performances can be conducted and experienced by any student regardless of their age, race, or artistic background. This antecedent research and analysis of text before completing actual work for Franklin Furnace provided me with background and foreword for the work I will be conducting in the future in assisting Franklin Furnace’s public programs.

My overall goal for this internship is to gain a thorough understanding of the modes through which smaller, artistic organizations influence the communities for which they serve—particularly through public, education programs and open exhibitions. With my time here, I hope to be an instrument in these positive impacts through my assistance. I hope to further my appreciation of the efforts that are put in place to broaden the education of underprivileged youth and how art can be used in a number of contexts for teaching, growth, and revitalization.