creative:impact - Hamburgers for Breakfast
Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy. In the weeks and months to come, Deb Polich, the President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw, explores the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.
ABOUT BROOKE BOYST & ANDREW SCHNEIDER:
Brooke Boyst and Andrew Schneider are Graduate Students in Eastern Michigan University’s Historic Preservation Program. Their focus is in Museum Studies.
Brooke and Andrew are part of the Museum Exhibit Development class, which is working to create an exhibit in McKenny Gallery about EMU’s campus community. This year’s theme is Food at EMU.
Brooke is in charge of PR and Marketing for the exhibit.
Andrew is the Oral Historian for the exhibit.
The gallery will not be finished until April 9th - it always comes down to the wire. I am attaching the invitation and some pictures of the work in progress.
As part of the graduate curriculum in the Historic Preservation program's Museum Studies track, a Museum Exhibit Development class works each Winter semester to develop an EMU-focused exhibit in the McKenny Gallery. We spend the first half of the semester researching in EMU Archives, and then the second half of the semester curating and building the exhibit. This year our focus is on food at EMU. During the research process we began to see patterns emerging. These patterns revolved around access to, and attitudes about, food. We examined the curriculum of the Domestic Sciences/Home Economics program, the ways in which students would eat on and off campus, how food shapes and reflects identity, and the ways in which food insecurity affects our campus. We look at everything from gender expectations, to food stamps, to the 1970s Chicano Student Association Lettuce protests and boycott. Let me know if you would like clarification on anything.
Deb Polich: Welcome to creative:impact on 89 one WEMU. Thanks for tuning in on Tuesdays to meet creative guests with roots in Washtenaw County and explore how their creative businesses, products, programs and services impact and add to our local quality of life, place and economy. I'm Deb Polich, president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw and your creative:impact host. So, you know, why do I love this show so much? It's because I get to pair all sorts of interesting things together, right? And sometimes those pairings are rather unusual subjects. And today we connect two of my favorites: careers in the arts and creative industry and food. Yum. We're here with Brooke Boyst and Andrew Schneider, graduate students in the Cultural Museum Studies Program here at Eastern Michigan University. Welcome to creative:impact, Brooke and Andrew.
Brooke Boyst: Hey, thanks for having us.
Andrew Schneider: Yeah, thank you.
Deb Polich: Really glad to have you here. So Cultural Museum Studies provides training in what?
Brooke Boyst: Well, everything, basically. So, the historic preservation program has museum studies track, where we look at things like curatorship, how to build your exhibit, how to do museum administration. There are classes. How do you create a budget for a museum? How do you create a gallery exhibit? How do you talk to donors? What does that paperwork look like? So...
Deb Polich: So, it's like a mini-arts management course?
Brooke Boyst: Yes.
Deb Polich: Awesome.
Brooke Boyst: Yes.
Deb Polich: That's great. And Andrew, how did you how did what led you to this program? How did you find your way to Creative Arts Museum studies?
Andrew Schneider: Well, with my work with the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, I already had these--
Deb Polich: Oh, you work at the Great Lakes in addition to being a student?
Andrew Schneider: Yes. For the summer, I work up there and then I come down here for the fall. But our director, Bruce Lynn, was a graduate student of the historic preservation program here at Eastern Michigan University, and I've been working there for a couple of years, and it was something that he had suggested for me to look into. I looked into it and applied for the coursework. I absolutely love working with historical content, especially within the realm of museums, and, so far, I have been absolutely loved my experience. It's been a wonderful opportunity to be able to work with some great graduate students, work with Nancy Bryk, who's had a lot of experience working in the field and very inspirational for me to keep going on my path work in museums. So, I'm very happy to be at Eastern.
Deb Polich: That's great. And, you know, I've done a lot of museum work with through my job at Artrain and put exhibitions together and toured them around the country. So I know the field pretty well. Although I was never a curator, I was always the administrator behind it. But there's, you know, there's like two sides of this work. Everything that takes place behind the scenes and then what the public sees. And there's really specialists in so many different skill sets. So, Brooke, where does your particular interest lie?
Brooke Boyst: So, my interest is in archives, actually.
Deb Polich: Okay.
Brooke Boyst: So, the part of the museum exhibit that really appeals to me is the curation part and the research behind the exhibit and the history and how you connect that history to what's going on at EMU today. And then, also, how do you make that accessible? Because if you have all these great things and no one can see them or learn from them, then there's really no point in having the things. So, creating a gallery and doing the outreach and working with people all across campus to see what kind of stuff do you have. How do you want to portray your program? What's the history of your program? That, to me, is very fun and is very rewarding. And people really appreciate coming to find out that their coursework and what they're working on has roots--very deep roots--at EMU.
Deb Polich: That's how cool how you bring it alive. And how about you, Andrew? Where's your particular interest?
Andrew Schneider: A lot of my interest is in the history itself, but especially being able to take any historical resources we have available. If it be letters, if it's direct artifacts, you know, someone's mug or a, I don't know, a particular place setting and being able to talk about the particular story that's behind it. Because, you know, if we just have things there and without any sort of context or people that surround that, they're just kind of worthless things. It's the people that are behind the objects that make that history very interesting. And so, for me, it's an interest in that curatorship role of being able to pull that story out of these objects, but also especially with the audience that's becoming more able to learn better with the audio/visual. I have an interest in trying to do more visual exhibits with...
Deb Polich: Audio guides and that kind of thing?
Andrew Schneider: Yeah, and trying to digitize a lot of the items that we have available that are in 2D or 3D formats, so that, you know, you know, we have people that are traveling from all over the world that go to the museum. But, you know, how can we reach what we have--the awesome collections that we have--how do we bring that to our audiences worldwide and to be able to make that, like Brooke had said, more accessible as a big part of my interest as well.
Deb Polich: Well, the stories are so powerful. You know, I took Russ and I took the kids to New York, and we went to Ellis Island and the kids being the grandkids seven and eight years old, and they took up the audio guides--it's probably called something else now--and listened to every single one of the 22 exhibits on place at which, you know, to a seven and eight year old. I wouldn't even do that. So, bringing it alive and making it real for people is pretty awesome. creative:impact continues on 891 WEMU. I'm your host, Deb Polich. And my guests are Brooke Boyst and Andrew Schneider, graduate students in Eastern Michigan University's Program of Museum Studies. So, we're going to finally get to some food here. "Hamburgers for Breakfast: Food and the Student Experience." You guys are behind this exhibition. Tell us about it, Brooke.
Brooke Boyst: Um, well, it all started with researching in archives at University Archives with archivist Alexis Braun Marks to see what EMU and food, what they had to do with each other.
Deb Polich: So they you weren't just discovering stuff. Food was actually the subject. And then you were doing the research?
Brooke Boyst: Correct. Food was the topic from the jump. And so, it went from 13 of us in the class, just sort of putting the word "food" into a database and seeing what...
Deb Polich: Search!
Brooke Boyst: Yeah, we're just searching EMU and food. And we just got so, so many interesting results. Everything from home ec and domestic sciences from the early 1900s to the lettuce boycott in the 1970s by the Chicano Student Association, war efforts, what happened on EMU during the war, community efforts to provide food to students, and then, most recently, Swoop's Food Pantry, where there was finally just an upfront acknowledgment that we have campus community members who are experiencing food insecurity. So, we kind of do the whole timeline.
Deb Polich: And, Andrew, you know, with what you found, I mean, it sounds like a lot. How do you cipher through it? How do you decide what stories to tell and what objects to use?
Andrew Schneider: Right. So, as part of this research process that Brooke was getting into, we were able to look through the archives and digging through any materials that we were able to find. And we were trying to find key themes that we could be able to connect to our audience. We're particularly looking to connect with the students here on campus, but also to raise awareness for people who are coming to see this exhibit about the student experience with food. And when we look through our sources, we found that there were three distinct themes that we wanted to focus on that people had looked through and they wanted to go off of. One of them was, like Brooke said, about home economics, but just the gendered experience with food on campus. The other one was about the sense of identity with food, whether that be that I'm not being represented by the food that's being offered or the food on campus is not particularly healthy. And so, I need to go find other alternatives. And then the third one is the issue about food insecurity. That's such a hot topic, especially on campuses and a lot of the interviews that I conducted, I always brought that up. And, you know, there have always been people who have been poor. There have always been people who have had issues of getting food. But I think being able to talk about it is a more recent experience and being OK with saying that, "Yeah, I struggle with this. Do I buy my textbooks or do I buy food?" You know, this is an issue that was brought up with some of the interviews that we did. So being able to focus on these three subgroups, we then broke up the students among these groups and everyone had their own lead assignment. But there was a collaborative effort that was made to focusing on your particular area.
Deb Polich: Well, being an Eastern alum and having been around for home ec and all these other things and being poor enough not to handle the hot plate in my dorm room, I remember those things. So, "Hamburgers for Breakfast.: How hard you land on that title?
Brooke Boyst: So, actually, one of our classmates was looking through old editions of the Eastern Echo in Archives, and he came across this letter to the editor--this opinion that someone had wrote where they were complaining about the dorm, like the dorm food and food options. And what year was this, Andrew? Do you remember?
Andrew Schneider: I don't remember off the top of my head. I want to say like 1930s when this came about.
Brooke Boyst: And so...
Deb Polich: Some things don't change.
Brooke Boyst: It's the exact same thing, and this person couldn't believe it. Still, you know, our students are eating hamburgers for breakfast. This is ridiculous. And then, I think the very next edition, one of the local restaurants used that letter to the editor to create an ad that said, "Our hamburgers are so delicious, students have them for breakfast!" And so, the whole semester, everyone just kept talking about hamburgers for breakfast.
Deb Polich: Oh, that's great.
Brooke Boyst: That's where that came from.
Deb Polich: So, when do we get to see this exhibition, Andrew?
Andrew Schneider: This exhibition is to open tomorrow on April 13th. We're going to have a big opening, and they'll have a lot of donors going through and people who are interested in seeing this exhibit. If you're interested in seeing the exhibit, there's a big glass pane. You'll be able to sign up for various appointments where we'll have probably one of our graduate students who will be working with you in the gallery, likely more at the end of the semester, but in the fall and spring semesters next year.
Deb Polich: So are the opening's on the third--I mean, at three o'clock on the 13th. And, Brooke, will there be food?
Brooke Boyst: There will be food. There will be food. That's been our thing. There's a very large email chain right now where we're all discussing the food options. And I think what's really funny is we're finding that some of the topics in our exhibit are reflected in our conversation of making sure everyone has something that they can eat, like a vegetarian option.
Deb Polich: Right.
Brooke Boyst: Who can't eat sugar. So, that's been kind of a kind of a fun experience.
Andrew Schneider: And, also, if you can afford it too.
Deb Polich: Well, I will say thank you so much for taking time out of what is a busy schedule. I know what openings are like, so thank you. That's Brooke Boyst and Andrew Schneider, graduate students at EMU's Museum Studies Program. Find more about the show, about Andrew and Brooke, and the exhibition at WEMU dot org. I'm Deb Polich, president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw and your host for creative:impact. Please join me next week to meet another creative Washtenaw guest on this, our Community NPR Radio Station 89 one WEMU and WEMU HD one Ypsilanti.
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