Miyuki Baker '12, a studio arts and Asian studies double major and Chinese minor from Effort, Pa., is a recipient of a 2011-12 Watson Fellowship, one of just 40 college seniors in the country to receive this honor. The Watson Fellowship will support a full year of independent academic exploration and travel outside the United States with a $25,000 grant.
Baker's project, "Visibly Queer: Exploring the Intersections of Art and Activism," will explore the art-making of queer communities in Argentina, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, India, Morocco, and the Netherlands. Through her travels and research, she hopes to understand "why a certain media of artistic expression is chosen over another, and how these decisions are enhanced or altered by the social and political environments or historical traditions of a country."
Baker intends to document the voices and stories of queer communities traditionally unrepresented in mainstream media in a series of zines which she plans to distribute in each home community.
As a mixed-media artist, Baker has long considered the potential for relaying different messages through each medium. She is especially inspired by the potential of employing different art forms to enact social change.
"I want to learn what happens when art enters communities," she says, "and is used to really create change - especially in the context of queer communities where art is being created in large numbers in an effort to increase visibility, combat homophobia, and achieve equal rights."
Baker's involvement in the Swarthmore queer community has informed her idea to explore global queer communities. "My interest in queer communities is a natural development that stems from my interest in finding community and relationships with people who reflect my identities," she says. "The idea to put these two interests together truly embodies everything that I am most interested in."