Thursday, March 20, 2014

Aim To Please

I've worked primarily in museums and libraries for over 17 years. I have a handful of tattoos, none of which were conceived with any reference to museums or library science. However, there's one tattoo that I got the summer I became a museum person, which speaks a lot to why I'm still a museum/library person.

I got my guns from the talented Mike Stobbe at Avalon PB in the summer of 1998. I was home from college for the summer and working as an intern at the Museum of Contemporary Art in the mornings, while bar tending at my uncle's bar in the afternoons. I was straddling between a La Jolla fine art institution and Mission Beach happy hours; college-life and hometown; living with parents and trying to be an adult. I was trying be a lot of things and thought the "aim to please" was a true sentiment to the in-between sort of place where I could make everything work.

Sixteen years later "aim to please" now reminds me why I enjoy working for museums and libraries. We are a service industry. We connect people to knowledge, to history, and to culture. We tell stories and invite stories, encourage conversation, and promote traditional and visual literacy. It doesn't make sense to me if it isn't benefitting an end user, an audience.

Why guns? Besides the play on words, the western iconography identified me with the rockabilly crowd I was involved with at the time. Also, while I am definitely not a guns rights advocate, I still appreciate a gun as an object of mechanic beauty.

Kara West
Library Arts and Culture Exhibition Manager
San Diego Public Library

Want to share your own story and tattoo?
Email Beth: beth (at) redmond-jones (dot) com or Paul: info (at) orselli (dot) net.

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