Student Spotlight: Meghana Karnik

Karnik_MeghanaMeghana is a visual artist and arts administrator from Cleveland, Ohio. She has experience in non-profit and start-up visual arts organizations, with a special focus on their curatorial, development, and audience engagement capacities. Meghana received her BA in 2011 from Case Western Reserve University in Art History and Political Science. She also completed a non-degree BFA thesis and exhibition in Drawing alongside graduating seniors at the Cleveland Institute of Art. The artist has shown in venues throughout Ohio, including LINGG Showroom, Newsense Gallery, Case Western Reserve University Art Studio, the Reinberger Galleries, the Cleveland Institute of Art, Zygote Press Inc., and SPACES.

What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University? I liked that ARAD integrates students from both performing and visual arts in a rigorous academic environment. Early on, our advisors emphasized that our real education would come from our cohort. And it’s true! If you’re here, you’re going to confront many definitions of what it means to be an arts administrator and learn how broad-based issues manifest in different fields. It makes for lively discussion. For example, we come to a better understanding of how aspects of copyright law might protect a painter but restrict a play director – because both individuals are present in the classroom, asking critical questions and advocating for their specialty. We challenge each other, and so we become fluent across disciplines in arts literacy, business strategy, and cultural policy.

How are your studies helping to advance your career goals? One of my favorite quotes is, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” One day, I’d like to be a founder or executive director in a multidisciplinary arts institution. I sought training from the ARAD program to help build a toolkit for success in organizational leadership. Over the last two years, I’ve invested a lot of time in studying symbiotic relationships within arts organizations – for instance, learning how curators, audience researchers, and fundraisers collaborate for institutional survival.

As an artist, my studies have balanced my creative and analytical abilities and made me an adaptable strategist. I think this is a path that practicing artists ought to consider seriously, especially as more pursue day jobs in entrepreneurship or administration. Being both an artist and arts administrator is a competitive advantage! I have both an extensive and essential understanding of the art world. As both a manager and practitioner, I can see the forest and the individual trees, so to speak.

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