Internship Check-In Part 2: Public Engagement and Communications Internship Team
The Textile Museum of Canada is dedicated to mentoring emerging arts and culture professionals. For Part Two of our Internship Check-In we are introducing three colleagues: Madeleine Ghesquiere, Defne Inceoglu and Yahn Nemirovsky, all from the Public Engagement and Communications Team.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
Madi: I’m currently finishing up my Master’s in Museum Studies at the University of Toronto, and I’ve got a background in art history, education, and theology. I’m a lifelong lover of textiles (my mom started teaching me to sew when I was around 5 years old) and I’ll happily learn any craft that comes my way. I have an old black cat who’s learning how to snuggle, and a collection of houseplants that fill the only windowsill my cat can’t reach.
Defne: I am a museum professional, graphic designer, writer, and researcher from Toronto. I am a first-generation person on this continent – my family is from Turkey and I am a dual citizen. I recently graduated with my Master’s in Museum Studies from the University of Toronto. My thesis research took place at the Royal Ontario Museum. I conducted visitor research to gauge the efficacy and ethics of animal bodies used for climate change education. My background is in the History of Art and Visual Culture. Prior to COVID-19, I was a volunteer literacy tutor in a detention centre – now I digitally tutor English as a Second Language through the same charity.
Yahn: I’m an artist, educator, and recent graduate of OCAD University’s Textiles program. I’m interested in textile and paper media art, and where these practices can intersect. I stitch soft publications and quilted collages inspired by the kind of internal world upheld by the perzine—the ‘personal zine.’ I often use text in my work, and through a mix of textile and paper media I share fragments of writing about my own experiences, as well as imagined narrations for the objects that I create. I was first involved with the Textile Museum in the winter and spring of 2019 as a workshop facilitator for Community Voices, and later as Education Assistant. I’m thrilled to be back at the Museum in a new role supporting a range of departments. I’m queer, I’m trans, and my pronouns are currently they/them.
From left to right: Madeleine Ghesquiere, Defne Inceoglu and Yahn Nemirovsky.
What is your job title?
Madi, Defne and Yahn: Public Engagement and Communications Intern.
Describe your role in a few sentences!
Madi: I do a little bit of everything! When we can have visitors in the building I help with ticketing, staffing the shop, and answering questions. I also help write things like social media posts, communications with volunteers, meeting minutes, item descriptions for the online Museum Shop, and volunteer training materials. The rest of my time is filled with whatever needs to be done around the Museum, from checking moth traps, to sorting materials for mask-making, to packing online shop orders.
Defne: As is common in Museums – I wear a lot of hats! A large part of my job is overseeing the Museum’s social media. I help run the Museum Shop, manage our mask-making volunteers and, have assisted in some graphic design work.
Yahn: The primary role of my position is to support the Public Engagement team at the Museum, namely contributing to volunteer coordination for those participating in mask and kit making with the Museum. My role extends beyond Public Engagement as well, as I will be contributing to tasks and projects in the Museum Shop, the Curatorial department, and the Collections department.
What has been your favourite, or the most rewarding project you’ve done?
Madi: I’ve really enjoyed welcoming new volunteers- I love meeting new people, and our volunteers are incredible! It always makes my day when I meet someone excited to come on board and be a part of the Museum.
Defne: So far the most rewarding project I’ve gotten to work on is with the volunteer mask-making team! Getting a chance to coordinate our volunteers has been a very valuable experience. Getting to know and work with our volunteers has been a delight.
Yahn: The most profoundly personal project that I’ve done with the Textile Museum was Community Voices, the creative partnership program between the Museum, local artists, and local social agencies. In 2019, I was invited to participate in the program as an artist and workshop facilitator. As a queer trans person, I had the opportunity to facilitate the collaboration between the Textile Museum and Triangle Program—recognized as the country’s only 2SLGBTQ+ High School. I developed a series of embroidery workshops with the theme of Personal Archiving, inviting participants to learn a variety of techniques and consider the ways in which textile art can hold our stories just as we hold it. It was such a special experience to then see the participants’ unique embroidery works installed in the Museum’s community gallery.
What skill or professional competency have you had a chance to work on the most?
Madi: I’ve learned a lot about the different programs the Museum uses for ticketing, sales, and volunteers. Learning the “back end” of these systems has been great, since they’re often very difficult to learn otherwise, and they’re very useful competencies to add to a resume.
Defne: The competency I have had a chance to work on the most so far is project management. I have been given the exciting opportunity to manage the social media calendar for the Museum, which in turn has let me exercise my abilities as an overall project manager. This is a skill I had been hoping to improve on as I left my studies, and it is a great opportunity to grow more competent with a chance to take on larger initiatives.
Yahn: I have only just begun this role as Public Engagement Intern, but I can speak to my past experiences with the Museum and to what I foresee of my work to come. In my time as Education Assistant, my skills in public engagement grew exponentially. I spoke with visitors at the Museum on a daily basis, and facilitated hands-on skills-based workshops for groups of up to 30 participants. I mark 2019 as the year which saw my social confidence grow, due in great part to my time with the Museum.
What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Madi: Hopefully working in a museum!
Defne: I see myself continuing on in the museum field (I did dedicate 8 years of study to get to this point, ha!) – working with museum publics. I am in the process of brainstorming and nurturing ideas for my PhD, which has me reading, talking, listening and thinking a lot. I hope to begin important conversations and research around the future of equity studies in informal learning institutions. I would love to continue to have opportunities to teach and learn.
Yahn: I would love to have the opportunity to continue to work and learn in a public-facing role in a museum and/or gallery setting. I’d also like to gain further experience through initiatives which recognize the complex ways intersected identities affect experience—specifically supporting 2SLGBTQ+ youth, sex workers, persons experiencing poverty, substance users, and persons experiencing houselessness. I would like to contribute to the widespread accessibility of integrated arts and wellness programming which engages persons from diverse communities with complex needs. I intend to continue to invest in my own education in these areas, so that I can advocate for the need for these programs in whichever environments I am a part of in the future.
What do you do in your spare time?
Madi: I love to make things, and keeping my hands occupied helps me relax. Recently I’ve been teaching myself new ways to mend clothing, so I can refresh old pieces already in my closet. I also enjoy reading, baking, and exploring my neighbourhood. My fiancé has also been slowly introducing me to a lot of great movies!
Defne: In my spare time I enjoy cooking, as well as developing ways to veganize some Turkish classics. I have been reading a nice balance of critical/political theory and popular fiction. I take part in a skills exchange where I teach graphic design in turn with a web developer, who is teaching me programming languages. I also do volunteer and advocacy work in my neighbourhood. Inspired by my colleagues at the Museum, I have taken up embroidery and I am working on my first piece.
Yahn: My spare time is currently spent stitching, reading, listening to podcasts and audiobooks, improving my cooking skills, being inspired by the many artists, craftspeople, and activists whom I follow on social media, and sharing food, movies, and board games with those who are near to me. I’m also taking some online courses and volunteering with Encampment Support Network in Toronto, mending tents. Through my experience working on a new stitching project, I started a writing project called Molten Heart Blog this past November. This project is invested in grief, a celebration of life, and a call to action in advocating for respect and care for substance users. Starting Molten Heart Blog has been cathartic for me—it’s nice to share for the first time the ways in which my experiences and memories inform my making. I’m currently reading Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi and Motherhood by Sheila Heti, and am about to start on A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt.
Complied and edited for length and grammar.