Kelly Olshan graduated Valedictorian from UNC Asheville, where she received her BFA in Painting and a minor in business management. Her thesis, a solo exhibition and associated research paper, received national recognition. As an undergraduate, she served as President of the University’s arts organization, where she managed student exhibitions, coordinated guest speakers, and organized other arts-related events. Before enrolling in the Arts Administration program, she served as the Local Arts Advancement intern for Americans for the Arts. As both an arts administrator and practicing artist, Kelly owns and manages her own fine art business. After graduation, she is invested in establishing more fiscal and educational resources for contemporary artists.
What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University? First and foremost, I saw the academic rigor of the program as unparalleled. This was especially important to me, as I made the decision to continue my studies rather than enter the workforce. The curriculum represents a crucial component: ARAD is the only Arts Administration program in the nation that requires 60 credits, a thesis, and an internship (though almost all students do more). Moreover, we’re able to cross-register into courses at almost any school at Columbia. As an artist, the ability to enroll in studio classes while pursuing my degree was a huge selling point. Finally, when I was researching graduate schools, I realized that all the organizations that I would want to work for are in New York City. Columbia’s location makes it easy to attend arts events, network, and pursue internships with key players in the arts.
How are your studies helping to advance your career goals? As someone who is interested in working directly with artists for a small nonprofit, I will need a diverse set of skills. The Arts Administration program at Columbia enables me to maintain my studio practice, further my understanding of arts entrepreneurship, as well as advance my working knowledge of the art world.
Describe student life as a member of the ARAD community. Never in my life have I encountered so many smart, hard-working individuals—all of whom are profoundly dedicated to improving the creative sector. ARAD’ers are at once creative problem-solvers, talented multi-taskers, and thoughtful friends. They are the first to respond to your emails, contribute an insightful comment in class, and invite you to an art opening in New York City. Not only have I been incredibly impressed with our cohort, but I’m confident that when my classmates go on to become leaders in the field, we’ll be able to draw upon each other as incredible resources.