Miki Garcia becomes new curator for the ASU Art Museum


JOSE CARDENAS: THE ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY ART MUSEUM HAS A NEW DIRECTOR. MIKI GARCIA WAS THE FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CHIEF CURATOR OF THE MUSEM OF CONTEMPORT ART SANTA BARBARA. THE ASU ART MUSEUM IS INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED AS A LEADER IN CONTEMPORARY ART. JOINING ME NOW IS MIKI GARCIA, WELCOME TO ARIZONA. GIVE US A QUICK RUN DOWN OF YOUR BACKGROUND.

MIKI CARCIA: MY BACKGROUND, WELL I AM ORIGINALLY FROM SOUTH TEXAS AND WENT TO VASER COLLEGE IN NEW YORK AND GOT A GRADUATE DEGREE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS IN AUSTIN. WORKED IN SAN DIEGO, NEW YORK.

JOSE CARDENAS: IN THE ARTS FIELD?

MIKI GARCIA: ALL IN THE ARTS FIELD. YES, AS A CURATOR. GOT A MASTERS AT UT AND WORKED IN SANTA BARBARA FOR THE LAST 14 YEARS WHERE I TOOK A VERY SMALL ALTERNATIVE ARTS SPACE AND WE WORKED VERY HARD, MANY OF US, TO MAKE IT A CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM. IT WAS THE ONLY CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM BETWEEN LOS ANGELES AND THE BAY AREA.

JOSE CARDENAS: JUST READING SOME OF THE ARTICLES ABOUT YOU BEFORE YOU CAME HERE IT SEEMS LIKE YOU HAD A LOT OF SUCCESS IN DIVERSIFYING THE OFFERINGS THE MUSEUM HAS.

MIKI GARCIA: YEAH, I THINK I AM REALLY INTERESTED IN THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE OF MUSEUMS. I AM VERY PASSIONATE ABOUT MUSEUMS. MY FATHER WAS AN ARTIST. MY MOTHER IS AN ARTIST AS WELL. AND I CREDIT ART FOR REALLY ALLOWING US TO THINK IMAGINITIVELY AND BE SUCCESFUL IN OUR COMMUNITIES. I WANT THAT EXPERIENCE FOR EVERY PERSON. MUSEUMS ARE DEMOCRATIC SPACES OUR COLLECTIONS BELONG TO ARIZONA. OUR EXHIBITIONS ARE TO SERVE THE PEOPLE AND OUR PROGRAMS. I WANT ALL COMMUNITIES TO FEEL LIKE THE MUSEUMS ARE FOR THEM.

JOSE CARDENAS: YOU WERE VERY SUCCESSFUL IN SANTA BARBARA. IT IS A WONDERFUL LOCATION. SUFFERING SOME DIFFICULTIES RIGHT NOW WITH THE FIRES BUT WHAT MADE YOU LEAVE THAT TO ASU?

MIKI GARCIA: I WAS INTERESTED IN THINKING ABOUT FUTURE OF MUSEUMS AND WHEN I SAY THE FUTURE OF MUSEUMS. I THINK THOSE OF US WHO RUN MUSEUMS, LIBRARIES, OTHER CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS ARE REALLY HAVING TO TAKE A GOOD HARD LOOK AT HOW OUR BUSINESS MODELS WORK TODAY AND IN THE FUTURE. THERE IS NO BETTER PLACE TO THINK ABOUT INNOVATION AND EXPERIMENTATION THAN ARIZONA STATE. I WAS VERY ATTRACTED TO THE ETHICS THAT THE HERBURGER INSTITUTE OF ARTS THAT OVERSEES OUR MUSEUM TALKS AND THINKS ABOUT. I WAS VERY ATTRACTED TO THE WAY MICHAEL CROW, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY THINKS ABOUT INCLUSIVENESS AND EQUITY AND DIVERSITY. SO BOTH ENTREPRENEURIAL EFFORTS TO DO SO AS WELL AS MORAL AND ETHICAL EFFORTS TO DO SO.

JOSE CARDENAS: WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE STRENGTHS FOR THE MUSEUM AND WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR IT?

MIKI GARCIA: THE MUSEUM'S STRENGTHS RIGHT NOW ARE THAT IT HAS AN EXCELLENT REPUTATION AND HAS BEEN WORKING IN A VERY RIGOROUS, SCHOLARLY WAY FOR MANY, MANY YEARS. I HAVE KNOWN ABOUT ASU'S ART MUSEUM. FOR INSTANCE, THEY HAVE AN INCREDIBLE COLLECTION OF CUBAN ARTS AND THE CURATOR IN THE '80s AND '90s WAS ONE OF THE FIRST CURATORS IN THE NATION TO EXPLORE CUBAN ART AFTER THE COLD WAR. BUT IT IS ALSO VERY STRONG AT BEING AN INTERDISCIPLINARY MUSEUM. THAT IS TO SAY IT ENABLES ARTISTS AND AUDIENCES TO REALLY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ALL THE OTHER RESOURCES ASU HAS. I LIKE TO THINK OF ART AS THE DISCIPLINE OF ALL DISCIPLINES SO THROUGH OUR ART OBJECTS YOU CAN LEARN ABOUT PHILOSOPHY, HISTORY, MATH, SCIENCE, RELIGION. SO THIS MUSEUM OFFERS AN INCREDIBLE PLATFORM OR PRISM TO THINK ABOUT THE WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE.

JOSE CARDENAS: THERE IS A LOT OF EXCITEMENT ABOUT YOU BEING HERE AND LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING GREAT THINGS FROM YOU. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON "HORIZONTE." I’M SURE WE WILL HAVE YOU BACK TO TALK ABOUT MORE EXHIBITIONS.

MIKI GARCIA: I WOULD LOVE THAT, THANK YOU.

JOSE CARDENAS: AND THANK YOU FOR WATCHING. I AM JOSÉ CÁRDENAS. HAVE A GOOD EVENING.

VIDEO: "HORIZONTE" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA PBS, MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU.

The Arizona State University Art Museum welcomes Miki Garcia as its newest curator to spring the institution into the future of museums.

Garcia comes to Arizona after working in the contemporary art scene in Santa Barbara for 14 years. She says the university’s focus on the future of museums is what brought her to ASU.

“There is no better place to think about innovation and experimentation than Arizona State,” Garcia says.

Garcia was also attracted by the university’s excellent reputation for the arts and how it works in a “scholarly way.” Art isn’t just art at this museum, explains Garcia, it becomes an interdisciplinary matter, combining art with subjects like philosophy, engineering and history. The museum “offers a prism to think about the world we live in,” Garcia says.

Garcia’s goal for the museum is not only to launch it into future thinking, but make it a welcoming space for each individual.

“Museums are democratic spaces,” she says. “Our collections belong to Arizona. Our exhibitions are to serve the people and programs. I want all communities to feel that the museums are for them.”

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Miki Garcia: Curator, ASU Art Museum

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