By Tiana Hunter
Twenty-three year-old East Los Angeles College student Hope Flores has been selected as Los Angeles County Museums recipient for the Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program.
This program provides specialized training in the curatorial field for students across the United States from diverse backgrounds. An art curator is a keeper or custodian of a museum or other collections.
Art museum curators work with art collections and exhibitions. Flores was invited last minute to an informational session on campus with the Mellon Fellowship Coordinator Hilary Walter where she discussed the process of applying for LACMA’s Mellon Curatorial Summer Academy which piqued her interest.
She then applied and was selected with 14 other undergraduates for the week-long academy, which included informational meetings, workshops, studio visits and much more as a ‘crash course’ to museum curatorial work.
The goal of the week was to curate a small scale photography show from the extensive Vernon Collection housed at LACMA. They successfully presented their work at the Photo Study Center to LACMA curators at the end of the week.
Out of the 14 who participated, those who felt compelled to apply for the more long-term fellowship were encouraged to do so.
The fellowship is a two-year commitment that Flores “did not take lightly” and almost decided against applying for because LACMA is far from home, and she is working on transferring from ELAC.
However, she didn’t feel those were good enough reasons not to do it and the Mellon Fellowship takes limitations like these into consideration, so she applied. Flores was born in Bellflower, California and raised in City Terrace, California, but also moved around a lot.
She began her artistic venture with music as a child, but also had an equal love of drawing, painting, crafting and anything that involved working with her hands. Coming from a family of musicians, however, she was naturally encouraged to pursue music more.
Flores considers music making to be the first time she saw herself as an artist, but she always made visual art at the same time as studying music even when she didn’t feel as confident in drawing or painting.
“We were never rich, but my mom and elders always knew the importance of encouraging my curiosity in music and art. I feel really blessed to have had that support in my home where I know so many others who got the complete opposite,” said Flores. Flores’ motivation for working in museums is so that her family and friends can actually go to a museum and see themselves represented on the walls.
When working at the Vincent Price Art Museum, she invited her grandparents to come see the permanent collection which was rich in Mexican Modernism and preColumbian art. It made her happy to see her grandpa get so excited to see names and imagery that resonated with him.
In that moment, she realized how blessed and privileged she was to be in a position to potentially make that magical moment her grandfather and her shared happen for many more people out in the world. The type of art she does now is still painting, but she finds herself moving towards assemblage, installation and textiles although those kind of endeavors take a bit more time than a student actually has the time for.
When asked how she felt about being chosen for the fellowship she said, “Excited is an understatement! I was actually interning at the Museum of Latin American Art over the summer and was working in the office when I got the call.
That was such a magical moment because most of my coworkers around me at the time were all these beautiful, badass muxeres working hard in the arts, and they all truly understood the magnitude of the opportunity, and were just as excited for me.
That to me made me all the more excited to be in a fertile environment where growth is encouraged and celebrated.” As far as where she is going after LACMA, Flores said, ” I have no set-in-stone career path that I see myself on. That’s what I love about the art world. It’s constantly shifting, exploring, finding new ways to create and present so that it’s possible to carve out your own unique path within it.”