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We're excited to welcome MABA's newest intern to the team—Lauren Anfenson! We asked Lauren to introduce herself and talk about the work she's doing at the museum.
I'm a senior Electrical and Computer Engineering major at Olin College. I've been working with MABA since June through the Sketch Model Fellowship at Olin, and I'll be here through November!
I've been studying engineering, and so have spent my past summers—predictably—working in tech [at Microsoft and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory]. The last couple months have been a deliberate detour for me to explore alternate futures more aligned with the abstract, the artistic, and the deeply human paths in the humanities that tend to go un-presented over the course of a technical engineering education.
I wanted to use this time to think about what problems I want my engineering practice to be centered on in a much broader context. Here, I can see where my work might fit in with education, conservation, art curation, design, and on and on. So my time at MABA is part of this overarching narrative that I'm finding myself in, redefining what I see as my "engineering" work and finding ways to preserve the parts of me that first fell in love with circuits and code in service of problems that are distinctly Human.
I was generally drawn to working with a museum, especially an art museum. I love the role that museums play in archiving and storytelling, curating narratives in the form of exhibits. With a small museum like MABA, there's also the beautiful local-ness of it—the outreach to the surrounding community, work with elementary schools, and annual summer camps. It doesn't hurt that I'm a lifelong birder and an art history minor, and where else would I get to work so squarely at the intersection of those things?!
I spent the summer primarily working on a nature-based STEAM curriculum with MABA's Education Director, Sean Kent. This was wholly out of my wheelhouse, but an awesome space for learning and a certified treasure-trove of interesting questions. How do you foster a connection to the local environment? How do we help kids see themselves as part of the Nature Narrative, and empower them to have agency in their community?
I was also, of course, grappling with figuring out how to operate in an organization unlike any that I've worked with before, unexpectedly remote and simultaneously navigating new pandemic fears and responsibilities. On the upside, this was also an opportunity to learn how to give and receive grace as we all grow through (to say the least) "unprecedented times" together.
Right now I'm feeling very grateful to be able to do some work on-site with MABA's collection and am privileged to spend my time surrounded by beautiful, richly storied art! I'm also thinking about how I need to find some time this week to properly explore MABA's trails and hunt down some fall warblers.