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Meet the Museum: Museum Educator Umber Majeed

A woman stands against a stark green background wearing a black and white checked shirt

What does your position as Museum Educator entail?

The Education Department at Museum of the Moving Image is a multifaceted, diverse group of practitioners, with each educator bringing their own unique skills and interests of moving image and art history to our programming. During this time of remote learning, we are a resource for teachers in New York City by researching, teaching, and integrating film, animation, and game design in our virtual tours, virtual workshops, afterschool programs and YouTube tutorials. My interests in new media art, technology, and game design, along with the unique collection at the Museum, inspire my research and curriculum developed for young students.

Is there a particular education program at the Museum that you are most proud of or that you think best speaks to the work done by you and your colleagues?

The Summer Media Camp 2020 was the most fulfilling experience. It was an opportunity to develop week-long camps and student projects ranging from green-screen videos to practicing puppetry on screen to creating fandom art. In the past, it took place in person at the museum, but this year we went virtual. It was inspiring to see various ways students could adapt to media-making over a few days of engagement. I am excited to see how we will develop it further this year!

How would you describe your work as an artist?

My art training in Pakistan, New York, and Lebanon has activated a mapping of my cultural hybridity in order to negotiate tactics of sociality as an American-born and -raised, Pakistani-descent Muslim woman of color. I use speculative fiction, animation, and the digital interface to collapse a multitude of sources from familial analog photographic materials, easily disseminated stock imagery, and Urdu literature on poetry and tourism ephemera. In my current projects, I use architectural design and historical events specific to Pakistan to negate convoluted understandings on nationalism, community, and self within the modernist nation state-paradigm. I am interested in temporal disjunctures of South Asia’s urban scape as a catalyst to propose alternative futures.

When not working, what have you been doing that helps you relax over the past several months of COVID-19 quarantine?

Since we are staring at screens for most of the day, I have delved into podcasts that range from science fiction to nonfiction. I would definitely recommend Dolly Parton's America and Imaginary Worlds (there is even an episode at MoMI with our Director for Curatorial Affairs, Barbara Miller). This has also been a time to reflect on expanding my art practice and making. You can find me with a sketchbook, scribbling in drawings and ideas for new projects.

What have you been watching for comfort?

Currently I am lost in the world of animation, ranging from Midnight Gospel on Netflix to some childhood favorites like Sailor Moon. There are also some very interesting virtual exhibitions/projects that I attend online as web artist residencies are becoming the norm. I would recommend checking out art web projects from Akademie Schloss Solitude and Silicon Valet.