We are thrilled to introduce you to Fund the Change recipient Alyssa Machida
Pronunciation: uh-liss-ah ma-chee-da
Title: Oppressive Systems Analyst; The Dreamspace Project
We asked Alyssa…
I think of the Dreamspace as the open-ended future of museums. Dreams often have the connotation of being imaginary, and not grounded in reality. Someone recently told me that in their own life, they prefer to speak in terms of goals rather than aspirations to make things sound more concrete and attainable. I thought about this for the longest time – why am I so fixated on dreams? Why the dreamspace? Why not just a “design guide” or “envisioning” exercises? Why not just call it radical imaginings?
But after a lot of percolating, I think it’s precisely because dreams are based somewhat on our own reality, but present an alternate constructed reality that captures the essence of this project. Whether it’s a daydream, or a magical dream, or a nightmare, dreams during the day or night have elements of:
our hopes and fears
and possibly most importantly, the dreamer is in the dream.
Why does this matter? Our cities and societies are all constructed by design – so are the stories of humanity that surround us. They begin as dreams and designs and become solidified over time through the actions of people into systems and structures. The reality we face in the past and now is oppressive, it doesn’t include everyone. It privileges, uplifts, and protects certain people to the exclusion and oppression of others. The dreams and designs foundational to our current reality didn’t include everyone. Or they actively centered and marginalized different groups of people.
The future of museums has to be the combined product of our individual and collective dreams. Not just the dreams and visions of some, those in power, those in wealth. All. And not just “including” folks in the general vision but still undermined, oppressed, or marginalized. I believe that the dreamspace is a future where people center themselves and each other to create just and equitable public spaces for art and learning in community.
What do you want to see change in the arts/museums/cultural sectors?
Over the past few years, I’ve observed firsthand the micro and the macro of museums situated within social and cultural ecosystems, and the ways that intersecting and entangled forms of oppression manifest in the day-to-day realities of these spaces. Previously, as a museum educator working primarily with visitors in the galleries with artworks, my main interest and focus used to be centered on critical pedagogy and anti-oppressive facilitation (which is still a fundamental part of my work and research). But I’ve also realized that as long as the bones of the institution remain White/Western/Euro/elitist/capital-centric—as well as ableist and cisheteronormative— then museum workers seeking better futures will always struggle and have their work (and lives) marginalized or under attack. I’m currently obsessed with challenging myself to think through what an alternative future for museums looks like. What defines or qualifies as a museum? How can we support art, community, performance, and public life but have anti-oppressive values threaded throughout our organizational model, not just embedded in a mission statement?
I stay inspired by constantly seeking people and projects that inspire me and by being super active and intentional about my ongoing learning process. There is so much good work happening out there! It’s important to not see yourself and your work as limited to one space and place.
Also I LOVE Detroit. The city has such an incredible legacy of artistry, craft, community, and activism that this city and its residents teach and inspire me everyday. I learn from the city of Detroit about how to build alternatives for a better future.
How do you make space for self care?
I have to admit I’ve been terrible at this for many years and I’m still trying to figure this out myself! Recently I’ve started going to community acupuncture and I absolutely love it; it’s become a fundamental part of my healing and care process. I was dealing with stress-induced fevers, digestive issues, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and insomnia and also struggling to find a care method that felt right for me. I love community acupuncture because its a space dedicated to community healing and wellness. The needles stimulate your body’s energies and help you get unstuck. It reminds the body of its innate ability to heal itself.
Alyssa Machida is a writer, artist, and educator based in Detroit, Michigan. She is the author of The Dreamspace Project Workbook, a toolkit and resource investigating critical, anti-oppressive pedagogies and practices in museums. She seeks projects, spaces, and co-workers committed to intersectional inclusivity, community-empowered organizing, and equity-based models for public engagement in arts and education.
Alyssa earned her B.A. in History of Art from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Ed.M. in Arts in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. To connect, please don’t hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alyssa has recently relocated to Minneapolis, MN where she is the Asian Art Learning Resources Fellow at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia).
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