Marketing and External Affairs Volunteer Gabrielle Black caught up with one of our members, Adrian Rocha. Learn about Adrian’s experiences with the Ransom Center and what he enjoys to do in Austin.
What first drew you to the Ransom Center?
Its proximity to where I work: I’m an assistant registrar here at The University of Texas at Austin.
Do you have any favorite exhibitions?
Ooooooh, one of my favorites was Literature and Sport. Also, The World at War, 1914-1918 was another favorite, especially the letters from Arthur Conan Doyle to his son. Gone with the Wind was tremendous, as was Shakespeare in Print and Performance. What’s awesome is how diverse the collections are here.
As a member, you get to go to a lot of special, exclusive events. What are some highlights?
The behind-the-scenes events for new and upgraded members are just amazing. I remember that was the first time I quite literally had my jaw dropped by the things out on display. They had a first printed edition of Dante’s Divina Commedia and its Italian manuscript.
On a day off, what do you like to do around Austin?
I skateboard a lot; it’s a really good way to get around the city on the weekend. I’ll ride my bike around, check out other exhibits, catch a show, and go to the greenbelt.
Has your time at the Ransom Center sparked a new interest in an artist or a historical period?
One thing that the Ransom Center has helped me develop more acutely is how you can be effective in multiple modes of communication as a single artist. A lot of times you go to an exhibition and you see finished products, and the Ransom Center has the iterations of that product leading up to the final piece. It’s really cool to see the nuts and bolts and the minutiae of what goes into the final work.
What interesting books or TV shows are you reading or watching?
I have too many books right now. Right now I’m reading a Texas author, born in El Paso, Sergio Troncoso, Crossing Borders: Personal Essays. It’s a book about being Hispanic and growing up on the border in El Paso. His wife is Jewish, so it explores how you have individuality when you’re living between two cultures.
Favorite breakfast spot in Austin?
That’s such a tough question! I want to say Tamale House East, but I’m gonna go with Cheko’s on Burnet. It’s the best Mexican breakfast I’ve had in town.
How would you describe the Harry Ransom Center to a close friend?
I always do tell people to bring their parents to the Ransom Center when they’re in town. There are so many things that it’s surprising to know are in Texas that are at the Ransom Center… [such as] the Gutenberg Bible and the First Photograph and their response is always “That’s here?!”
What does Harry Ransom Center membership mean to you?
I have an opportunity to access things that I traditionally should not have been able to access. I went to a fairly small institution that didn’t have these resources, and I also grew up in a border town that certainly didn’t have an institution of this scope or magnitude. Being part of this community, especially when it’s so welcoming, has been amazing. I get to come to these parties and talk to different artists and writers and poets and other administrators!