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Creating an Autoportrait: Alba Fernandez-Keys

Today's blogger, Alba Fernandez-Keys, is the head of the libraries and archives at the IMA.

Obscured beneath the simple words, numbers, shapes, and colors found in much of Robert Indiana’s work are essential memories and symbols of the artist’s life. Indiana’s visual vocabulary is encrypted with personal symbolism. This is particularly evident in his long series of Autoportraits.

To complement The Essential Robert Indiana, on view through May 4, the IMA invites visitors both on-site and online to Create Your Autoportrait using some of the same elements that Robert Indiana incorporates in to his. During the run of the exhibition, IMA staff members will be creating their own Autoportraits and blogging about it.

The fourth in this series features Alba Fernandez-Keys, head of the libraries and archives at the IMA.


I’ve spent the majority of my professional career with the IMA Library and Archives so this department figures prominently in my auto-portrait. I have worked at the IMA for almost 14 years in various capacities—I am currently the Head of the Libraries and Archives. I graduated from the University of Arizona in Tucson.  It was the job at the IMA that brought me from the sunny Southwest to snowy — but beautiful — Indy.

Ledger dated 1908.

Ledger dated 1908.

The library was first listed in the annual report as an individual department of the John Herron Art Institute in 1908. The first item accessioned in the ledger also dates from this year. What began as a small group of books and magazines donated by members has now grown to be a collection of over 100,000 items in multiple formats and languages. When the new IMA building opened in 1971 (at our current location on the former Lilly Estate) the library was named in honor of Eleanor Evans Stout, trustee and board officer from 1968 to 1972. Green, purple and orange were the three colors used in the original design of the library.


The old library on Krannert Pavilion.

This year marks the 4th anniversary of the establishment of the IMA Archives. Starting an archives is a huge endeavor that requires dedicated staff to organize, arrange and process large volumes of historical materials. I think of the Archives as the place where we maintain our institutional memory. Many of the decisions our staff make with regards to our collections and buildings are based on documents and correspondence preserved by our department. Although we still have a lot of work to do, we are proud to have several  fully processed collections accessible to researchers and are in the middle of a large digitization project, Documenting Modern Living: Digitizing the Miller House and Garden.

Filed under: Audience Engagement, Exhibitions, Guest Bloggers, IMA Staff

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