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It was not exactly a revelation that I will be writing my thesis in the near future. I have been brainstorming research topics for the past 2 years (and in a broader sense for much of my adult life). Even so, this past week has been something of a wake-up call.
I started my Native American methodology seminar, where we will be exploring the theoretical frameworks of art history from the perspective of Native art. This will be extremely useful to me in framing my own theoretical position as well as giving structure to my research. Our assignments are geared towards our individual projects, including an annotated bibliography of sources we plan to use in our theses. That’s where the sudden panic set in…to create a bibliography I need a topic! Which means I need to formalize a thesis advisor, figure out when I will take thesis credits, etc…
The good news is it got me brainstorming in overdrive and inspired me to go in and check on my program of study in the grad office. I am very much on track, just need to actually go through the motions. I have a more solid idea now for a thesis topic. The plan at this point is to get some feedback from my (potential) thesis advisor and get plugging away on the semester’s research, preparing for spring symposium, and setting the foundation for my thesis work this summer and fall.
Though this semester is shaping up to be even more intense than the last one, I am pretty excited about the months ahead. Once again the first order of business is prioritizing and organizing my agenda to make sure I accomplish everything I set out to do. Along with my research and cataloging projects, in large part this means redoubling my efforts toward professional development and funding opportunities. It won’t be long before I’m wandering the aisles of the job market with basket in hand, and in the meantime I need to continue to find inventive ways to finance my grad school experience.
There are several things I’m working on at the moment – applications for conference travel awards (I’m planning to attend the joint ARLIS/VRA conference in Minneapolis this year as well as daydreaming about the VRA Summer Educational Institute), the semi-annual resume rewrite, and an interesting project through ARTstor that would also pay for travel expenses. I’m also eligible for UNM scholarships this year, so that’s another possibility. While I would like to continue working at Bunting for the duration of my degree, last semester’s budget situation goes to show just how tenuous funding sources can be. Time to channel my creative energy.
As I was completing my internships in library school, I always found it useful to keep track of my progress and accomplishments with an internship journal. Often this is part of the requirement for credit, but I think I would have done it regardless. Otherwise I’m not sure that I would remember all the projects I worked on. I decided to do the same kind of thing with my research assistantship, though on a weekly rather than daily basis. I probably won’t post it every week, but here are the highlights from week 1:
1. Logged into the Bunting catalog (VISIC), learned how the database operates and compared the cataloging view and public view
2. Compared the metadata in the catalog to metadata in the VIRCONA database
3. Explored the functionality of VIRCONA
4. Compared images in ARTstor to what is in the catalog
5. Cataloged image sets from Universal Art Images (Abstract Expressionism and Picasso)
All of these things were useful and helped to familiarize me with the database and the procedures of the department. The most satisfying was the process of cataloging – so nice to get back in a workflow state.
Obviously the last few months of 2010 became a more time-consuming phase than expected. Grading, office hours, editing the departmental journal, publishing a new ARLIS book review….combined with an intensive research project on Teotihuacan iconography and continuing the Santa Fe gallery commute twice a week combined to throw me into a whirlwind.
The new year brings a new semester and new opportunities. Likely a new whirlwind as well, though I am resolved to chart the process more often. The most exciting change is starting my research assistantship this week at the Bunting Visual Resources Library, where I will be cataloging for the VIRCONA (Visual Resources Catalog of Native American Artists) database. This is a great chance for me to get back in a library and get some new experience.
This spring also brings my first symposium. I will have to determine a research project suitable to present to my colleagues, which is somewhat daunting. Luckily I am taking two courses in Native American art with two of the professors I would like on my committee, so their input will be valuable.