Meet Our Summer 2020 Team of Interns

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Over the last few weeks, MONA has had the pleasure of working with our very first team of talented interns. They have worked with our team to create wonderful educational content, assist in behind the scenes projects, and had the opportunity to learn about the fast paced and exciting world of small museums. MONA has learned to adapt and face challenges as we approach them in our ever-evolving world. Due to “Safer at Home” restrictions and for the safety of all our staff, nearly all of the work that our Interns have done has been remote. However, two local interns had the opportunity to visit MONA’s neon warehouse while following proper social distancing and safety procedures.

We’re pleased to introduce to you Ian, Kayla, and Maya!

Meet Ian:

“Hello! My name’s Ian, and I’m from the Washington, DC, area, where I’ve been working remotely for MONA this summer.  In addition to joint projects among the interns like creating audio descriptions to increase accessibility and researching the permitting history of signs in the collection, I’ve been helping to bolster MONA’s science education resources.  First, I read through the California state standards in science, compiled a list of any that might be relevant to MONA’s work, and suggested ways each could relate.  Then, I got to work writing scripts for two upcoming videos explaining the science behind plasma—one aimed at elementary school students and the other for high schoolers and adults.  Once I’m done filming, I’ll be editing the videos so that they can be shared on MONA’s social media accounts, in order to help MONA’s audience better understand the scientific underpinnings of neon and plasma art!  I’ve had such a blast exploring the myriad phenomena relating to plasma and coming up with creative and engaging ways to share them with the public.”

Meet Kayla:

“My time interning at MONA has given me a newfound appreciation for the art of neon and glass bending. I have learned so much about the science and history behind neon and have developed new research skills that will aid me in discovering the history and influences behind certain signage and artists. While at MONA I have created auditory visual descriptions of specific works in the collection to make the museum accessible to more audiences. I have also researched the background and culture of various artists and organized the data to be used for further analysis to plan for future shows as well as for community based outreach and programming. Within this research I have also learned about how to develop a budget in planning for future events and grant proposals. During my time at MONA I have gone down the investigative path of permit history and photo archives to track down the origin of historical signage and landmarks, specifically the famous Brown Derby restaurant sign. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about neon and the historic importance behind this art form and hope that my enthusiasm over the subject can show more people that it’s never too late to learn about topics you know nothing about because there is always great joy to be had in learning.”

Meet Maya:

“Hi Everyone! I’m Maya Abee, one of MONA’s summer interns. These months have been all about familiarizing myself with the world of neon. I’ve been able to go to the MONA warehouse and catalogue neon tubes in their collection. I have even had the privilege of writing and recording visual descriptions of signs in the collection for an enhanced visitor experience—it’s been a joy to sit with a neon sign and really get to know all it’s quirks.

I’ve had the pleasure of learning more about the City of West Hollywood by co-writing, curating and photographing three separate West Hollywood Light Guides— containing signage from The Strip to Route 66. I’m excited for folks to experience their city through neon. 

One thing that MONA has given me the opportunity to explore is the role that signage plays in gentrification. Diving into community-based research has widened my perspective on how signage is often positioned right in the middle of shifting communities, and is a main indicator of change.

I’ve gotten to look closely at The House of Spirits Liquor Store sign by digging through decades of permits, tracing its history in Echo Park—a neighborhood that has undergone many stages of change in the past decade alone. This has been a really amazing history to venture into, as the sign is so important to many Angelinos, myself included.

My summer with MONA has been such an exciting opportunity to build on my interests and a rich way of spending a post-grad pandemic.”

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