Meet Melissa Weisberg, ARAD’s New Social Media Manager

ARAD is delighted to welcome Melissa Weisberg (ARAD ’20) as our new Social Media Manager. Learn more about Melissa, her goals for her new role, and what she’s been up to since graduation.

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Alumni Spotlight on Nicole Chen: Post Sale Administrator at Sotheby’s

Nicole Chen (ARAD ’20) currently is a Post Sale Administrator at Sotheby’s. As a recent graduate, we spoke with Nicole about her experience in the ARAD program and starting a new position in the midst of the pandemic. 

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TC ARAD Alumni Stay Connected!

On February 25th, ARAD was delighted to welcome alumni from across the years to its annual mixer. This year it was held in midtown NYC, and hosted by Dr. Gemma Mangione, the ARAD Program Director and the Alumni Relations Office. We caught up over drinks and apps in the evening of camaraderie – sharing in each other’s careers, lives, and memories of the program.
Thank you to all who joined us. We hope to see you and more of our alumni next year! In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this slide show of photos taken from the event.
A warm thank you goes out to Alyssa Yuen (ARAD ’16), the assistant director of Alumni Relations, and to the ARAD staff for organizing this event.

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Audrée Anid ‘17 brings her perspective to NY’s art world with new exhibitions

AANIDprofileimageAudrée Anid ’17 is Lebanese-American mixed-media artist and independent curator whose work spans photography, painting, and printmaking. Audrée was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and grew up in the Bronx, New York. She holds a B.A. in Studio Art from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and an M.A. in Arts Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. She has exhibited at Photoville NYC at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Humble Arts Foundation, Equity Gallery, Brooklyn Fire Proof Gallery, Gallery at BRIC House, and Space Womb Gallery, among others. International exhibitions include Arts Suzhou in Suzhou, China and The Beirut Contemporary Global Art Fair in Beirut, Lebanon.  She was recently selected as an artist in the Artist on Art Program at Olana State Historic Site, in Hudson, New York in partnership with IAIA I Institute of Arab and Islamic Art in New York. She is based in Brooklyn, New York.

We caught up with Audrée to learn more about her work and upcoming exhibitions:

Tell us about what you are working on now.

As far as my art practice goes, I’m working on a few different projects simultaneously in my art studio in Bushwick. I’ve been working on a body of oil paintings entitled Formations, since last August. The paintings depict fragments of media imagery culled from online coverage of the ongoing Civil War in Syria.  I’m interested in the ways in which we decode and process digital information, examining what we chose to ignore and what we pay attention to. I’ve also been exploring text and language by printing and painting on paper. I’ve made over 100 of these works on paper since October (these will be shown in Chelsea on July 12th).

I recently launched RATA Projects, a curatorial initiative with independent curator, Rachel Tretter. RATA Projects grew out of a need and desire to give emerging artists a voice in the very competitive arts landscape of New York City.

How did it come together?

RATA Projects came together after Rachel and I (who both work at commercial galleries) wanted to pursue our own curatorial vision and found an engaging space to do so. The gallery itself is a unique space that comes equipped with a discreetly hidden speakeasy. We approached the owners of the space with a clear vision and proposal of the show, including a list of artists we would pursue. Since our first meeting, we’ve been focused on planning, outreach, and organizing, applying our collective knowledge toward the inaugural show, Skip/Salvage.  

Can you share more about the messages for these exhibitions?

Skip/Salvage focuses on collage and sculptural constructions, with works comprised of domestic remnants, byproducts of manufacturing, and fragmentary objects from daily life recontextualized to create new meaning. The pieces in the show denote a specific place and time, often borrowing from the landscape of New York City as well as the artists’ personal memories. All of the artists in the show are based in New York and incorporate elements of the city into their work.

Eminent Domain is a flash exhibition of intersectional feminist art in Chelsea where I will be showing a 5-foot installation of works on paper. The painted words and phrases stem from personal interactions, text-message exchanges, and fragments of phrases borrowed from apologies that have been issued and circulated by the media by influential figures in society. The guerilla/flash format of this exhibition is intended to disrupt the norm of the white-box/blue-chip nexus of galleries in Chelsea. I think it’s incredibly important to give women a platform to showcase their work, especially since women make up such a small percentage of representation on gallery rosters. The artists in this exhibition are diverse; they include established feminist pioneers like Marilyn Minter, to more emerging voices (like myself).

How did ARAD prepare you for projects like these?

While in grad school, I honed my ability to multitask and prioritize responsibilities and I’ve certainly applied this work-ethic to my current projects. The extensive writing and analysis my courses encouraged have served me well in crafting proposals, press releases, and other written media.  My professors always challenged me to push my thinking further, shifting my ideas out of an abstract realm and into a clear material one, which I think my art practice has benefitted from.

Congrats to Audrée! We look forward to checking out Eminent Domain and Skip/Salvage.


Alumni Spotlight: Donald Borror, named ED of Dorrance Dance

59By Gillian Jakab

After a scene-change from stage to classroom, and then a short leap to a consulting gig, Donald Borror (’15) has listened to his timing cues and executed an elegant grand jeté landing in the position of Executive Director of Dorrance Dance.

A Juilliard-trained modern dancer, Borror was a company member with Ballet Hispanico before coming to grad school and joining the ARAD community.  Upon graduating, Borror wanted to sharpen what he perceived to be the dullest tool in his belt: development.  He joined DUNCH, a consulting firm for non-profit cultural organizations, and worked on fundraising projects with companies such as Mark Morris Dance Group, The Apollo Theater, American Composers Orchestra, Art21, and BRIC.

“While I was at DUNCH, I was still developing skills that I had started working on while I was in the ARAD program,” Borror said.  “I was transferring them to a real life setting, but not really with the responsibility of having all of the ownership of it; that’s sort of the nature of consulting.”

Dorrance Dance, a tap dance company founded by MacArthur Fellow and Artistic Director Michelle Dorrance, was a client of Borror’s at DUNCH. After working together for almost a year, Borror was inspired to take full ownership and found it to be the right time to make the move. “I realized while on that project that I was really, really drawn to Michelle’s work,” Borror said. “The energy around the company was very positive and I was looking for something to really dive into.”

Having consulted for the company, Borror knew the ins and outs pretty well; he’d helped write position guide for Executive Director job, which, he says, echoes the ARAD curriculum.  In addition to the development work with which he was familiar from his time at DUNCH, Borror says of his ED position at Dorrance Dance:

“You’re also managing at least five other different spheres: fundraising’s one aspect, but there’s also production, there’s marketing and PR, there’s internal office relations, working with the board. There are so many different little ecosystems that could be their own full-time thing. It’s so similar to what the ARAD program provides, giving you such a wide menu of options for what you can study. Because the reality is, when you’re in a job like this, you really touch on all of those elements almost everyday.”

Borror’s experiences as a dancer and as an ARAD student have attuned him to the structures of the dance world, both in media res and from an analytic vantage point.  His Master’s Thesis, “Dancing Inside the Institution: Examining Labor Rights Within Major Dance Companies” assessed the impact of AGMA (the major US union representing large dance companies) on organizational operations.

“On top of my personal experience working in a union, I added an academic lens so I could expand my sample pool outside of personal anecdotes. I interviewed the company managers of the AGMA companies in New York City and was able to pick the brains of the people running Graham, City Ballet, Ballet Hispanico, Ailey, ABT about what it means to provide support for your dancers. So now in these conversations with Michelle, I can point to my experience at Ballet Hispanico when X thing happened, but I can also point to page 85 of my thesis where I analyzed the same situation.”

The ARAD program provokes its students to analyze the social, cultural, and historical associations tied to specific art forms.  Immersing himself in the tap world at a pressing time to be thinking about historically marginalized forms of dance, Borror is learning the social nuances of the genre and the defining role it is has played in African-American—and American—cultural history. Tap has been burdened by prejudices rooted in racism and classism, the details of which are explored in scholar Constance Valis Hill’s “Tap Dancing America: A Cultural History” and new tap dance database at the Library of Congress.  In addressing these factors, Borror draws from another role he has held in the dance world:

“I’ve served on the Dance/NYC Junior Committee for a number of years and the equity and inclusion work we do has definitely helped me frame the way I approach the form of tap dance. It has armed me with the tools and vocabulary needed to address these race-based conversations that we’re having in relationship to its history. It’s been really helpful to have that context when bringing a traditionally black form into traditionally white spaces and understanding the implications that creates.”

Careful to acknowledge the history and legacy of tap, Borror and Dorrance pay tribute to the company’s predecessors and contemporaries. Yet at the same time, Borror embraces and leverages the singular position Dorrance Dance holds as a concert tap dance company.  “There are no other major voices in tap that have a company apparatus in the same way as us, in New York City. To provide a destination for a sector of the dance field that doesn’t have a lot of offerings like this is really important.”

Borror is generous with advice to ARAD students and his expressions of advice are a reflection of his personal positivity:  “It’s really easy to become very cynical about the state of the field and things that are messed up. After those conversations, … take a step back and say I’m doing this because I love X.”  Then ask yourself: “What are we all doing to make the field a better place?”  As to the keys to success: “Some great advice that was given to me about being a dancer, but I think it applies to a lot of pieces of life, is that you need to be two out of three things to be successful—the three things are nice, talented, and on time.  I would stress the nice and on time.”


An Interview with GRAMMY Winner Eric Oberstein

By Blaire Townshend

Arts Administration Alumnus Eric Oberstein is a producer, musician, educator, and arts administrator—and now also a two-time GRAMMY winner. His work as producer on Arturo O’Farrill’s “The Afro Latin Jazz Suite” earned Oberstein and his creative team the award for Best Instrumental Composition at the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards this February. This win closely follows a win for The Offense of the Drum at last year’s ceremony—to read more about that award, click here. Oberstein currently serves as the Associate Director of Duke Performances, as well as co-chair for the recently established Alumni Committee of the Arts Administration Program here at Columbia University. For this interview, Oberstein was able to take time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions regarding his recent GRAMMY win, his administrative and creative philosophies, and his insights into the field of arts administration.

Eric 2
A screenshot of the team on stage at the GRAMMYs

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Alumni Event: Mentoring as Advocacy

Alumni and students enjoying the event. Photo courtesy of Alexis Yuen.

This February, the ARAD Alumni Committee launched a mentorship program for 2nd-year students. The goal is to build personal and professional connections that give ARAD students an advantage as they leave the program and enter the world of arts administration. Co-presented by the ARAD Alumni Committee, the ARAD Program, and Student Advocates for the Arts, the event Mentoring as Advocacy was the kick-off for the mentorship program where students, faculty, and alumni were able to meet and network.

Tuesday, February 9, 6-8:30PM
Nuyorican Poets Café, 236 E. 3rd Street, Manhattan

Current student Alyssa Yuen shares her reflection on the event here.

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Alumni Conversation: Daniel Gallant

By Gina Tribotti

Daniel Gallant Nuyorican Pic
Daniel Gallant Nuyorican Pic: photo by Samira Bouaou for Epoch Times

Daniel Gallant is a theatrical producer, playwright, director, teacher, actor, and executive director of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Since 1973, the Cafe has operated as a multi-arts and multicultural non-profit organization, presenting poetry, music, hip hop, theater, and education events in New York City’s East Village. The Cafe’s history is chronicled in a new online exhibit from Google Cultural Institute.

Daniel has also recently been awarded a 2016 Eisenhower Fellowship for his work as an arts leader. Eisenhower Fellows travel abroad to meet with experts in their respective fields and deepen their engagement with a global network of leaders. In this interview, we speak with Daniel about the nimbleness of small organizations, the benefits of being an arts omnivore, and the delicate balancing act between artistic creation and arts management.

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