Alumni Spotlight: Carolina Cambronero-Varela, Co-Producer of “Artivism: The Power of Art for Social Transformation”

What is your role in working with Artivism: The Power of Art for Social Transformation? How did Artivism begin and how did it become a multi-institutional collaboration?

Thank you for this opportunity ARAD family, such an honor to be back home!

My motto goes: Trust engenders opportunities; opportunities: a dignified life. This motto describes what is happening with this ongoing endeavor, the cumulative labor of love of many.

The initiative Artivism: The Power of Art for Social Transformation emerged from the book Illuminations of Social Imagination, which flourished from the event Liberating Imagination Through Artistic Activism, and the exhibition Brave Spaces: Where You, Me and We Meet. This event and exhibition were made possible via Columbia University’s Student Advocates for the Arts (SAA) in collaboration with New York University’s Advocates for Cultural Engagement (ACE).

As a note to current ARAD students, SAA has enormous potential. In my previous interview, I mentioned that teamwork, dedication and discipline, with a little sacrifice, are all you need as the infrastructure for your dreams. Go get them!!

Thank you God and all that have made this evolution possible. As you can imagine, collaboration is the key in building this robust network that has been and continues to be what Artivism is. Immense gratitude to you all for your trust!

Because of this book’s collaborative spirit, featuring 15 authors and three co-editors, it felt only natural to create a program featuring the authors, their thought-provoking chapters, and the socially engaged projects they’re involved in. This is how the idea came about with the Gottesman Libraries: How about a year-long series surrounding the topics on social imagination and the use of the arts for social change? 

It was thanks to Artivism’s fairy godmother, Ms. Jennifer Govan, Senior Librarian and Director of the Gottesman Libraries, that doors were opened and Artivism grew into what it is today. With her trustful “yes”, we got in contact Dr. Christine Riordan, President of Adelphi University, who then connected us with her teammates, Dr. Stephanie Lake, Professor Argiro Agelarakis, and Sarah Avery from the Criminal Justice Program. In addition, we were also joined by Dr. Inés Archer from Adelphi’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Soon thereafter, Sing for Hope co-founders, Camille Zamora and Monica Yunus, saw potential in the idea and became Artivism’s co-collaborators and co-sponsors.

Can you explain what “artivism” is and what it means to you?

Artivism looks to ignite the passion within each of us to be the change agents of our moribund society: with our current resources, where we are. Artivism builds networks of content creation , collaborations, and new ways of thinking as tools to transform systemic societal disjunctives. 

Artivism brings to light how the arts can redress inequities, reflect all voices, and push society forward. This interdisciplinary, multi-institutional collaboration aims to engage people in transforming society through the power of art. The initiative’s vision is to generate a movement where committed social ‘artivists’ are responding to historical global unrest and creating community through multi-disciplinary teamwork toward a more dignified and meaningful coexistence.  Artivism hosts presenters and their initiatives from all over the world, encouraging teamwork, working for the common good, and exchanging ideas. Artivism is currently also building its European chapter.

Artivism is the result of dedication, teamwork and reciprocity. Artivism is an example of selfless collaboration for the greater good. To me, this is the objective-solidarity, sharing and being one; one family that cares for each other worldwide in hopes of transforming societal systemic disjunctives.

What initiatives is Artivism currently working on?

Our current season started this past September and will feature an amazing line-up of international presenters, spanning from locations such as Ecuador, Greece, Costa Rica, Russia, the Philippines, Iran, and France. In addition, we are also collaborating with Adelphi University’s “Fall Arts Festival” on October 6th, 2021, with a live roundtable discussion, held in the Olmsted Theater at Adelphi University’s Performing Arts Center. Adelphi students are also currently working on creating an official Artivism Club on campus. Our ongoing Student Ambassador Program continues to provide a platform for students to share their voices while also connecting directly with other “artivists”. This upcoming Spring 2022 season is all lined up and ready to ignite our audiences.

Artivism shows what dedication, teamwork and solidarity can do. It shows how each individual has the means, not in the future but NOW to be the change agent in their current context. By being mindful, attentive, present, and receptive in your everyday activities and taking selfless action, you are everything needed to inspire and transform the status quo, one person at the time- starting with YOU. Now, how are you inspiring others?

Artivism: Nurturing change for a more dignified and meaningful coexistence

Get involved

For more information on Artivism: The Power of Art for Social Transformation, check out the links below.

Carolina Cambronero Varela, M.A. is engaged in community endeavors that promote a better environment and future through the arts and peace education. She believes these are human rights that will guide all, primarily children, to a deeper understanding of the power of transformation that each person has within. Carolina envisions the creation of these opportunities as integral components for a dignified life (please refer to The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, 1966).

While at Columbia University, Carolina was president of Student Advocates for the Arts, co-chair of the Peace Education Network, and program representative in the Arts and Humanities Department Student Council. She also became a member of Kappa Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education, Global Citizens Club, and Columbia’s University Life Events Council.

Currently, Carolina co-produces the initiative Artivism: The Power of Art for Social Transformation, an ongoing, multimodal collaboration sponsored by Sing for Hope, Adelphi University and Gottesman Libraries, Teachers College, Columbia University. Artivism aims to generate community through multi-disciplinary teamwork for a more dignified and meaningful coexistence, however you define these terms. The initiative aims to nurture confidence in taking continuous action from wherever you are by means of reciprocity.

Links:

Interview

National Arts Action Summit

From Negative to Positive Event

Artivism: The Power of Art for Social Transformation

Alumni Spotlight: Ty Cooperman(ARAD ’20), Director and Registrar at TW Fine Art

Ty Cooperman (ARAD ‘20) is currently the Director & Registrar at TW Fine Art in Brooklyn, NY. We had the opportunity to speak with Ty virtually, where he shared his experiences in the ARAD program and his life after Teachers College, Columbia.

Tyler (Ty) Cooperman at TW Fine Art’s Brooklyn Outpost

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What is your current position, and how did you step into your role?

Ty: I am a born and raised New Yorker, and in the ARAD Class of 2020. I entered Columbia just having received my BA with Honors in Art History from NYU knowing I wanted to do the business of art and work with artists, but I didn’t quite know exactly what that was going to look like. While at Columbia, I was super fortunate in that I found an amazing internship with a major collector named Mike De Paola, for whom I first became his personal registrar, I then became the registrar for his business, and have now become gallery director for TW Fine Art. It’s been crazy growth.

What attracted you most to the ARAD program at Teachers College?

Ty: I liked the fact that it was a holistic approach to the arts. I was fairly certain that I wanted to be on the for-profit side of the visual arts, but I liked that I regularly interacted with people who were on the opposite end of the fine arts spectrum, that being non-profit and performance. Because it is a small art world, it’s important for us to all understand what each segment does and the particularities of each group. I’m currently working with a movie studio to get commercial work for some of our artists, and I’m finding they don’t know how to speak our language. You can see the way it creates disconnect, so I feel like it really gave me a leg up in that I can speak intelligently about not only the visual arts but performance. Something that is increasingly clear to me but became clearer to me at Columbia is that regardless of whether you take the for-profit or non-profit route, if you’re working in the high end of the arts, you essentially serve all the same people. It’s a very small group that has that control, and understanding how to work with them on either level is a real advantage.

How did the ARAD program help prepare you for this role?

Ty: My last semester at Columbia when we were transitioning to online was quite crazy in that the art world didn’t know what anything was going to look like. Mike and I were just watching all these amazing small and mid-size galleries being forced to close. Learning what I learned at Columbia, I was able to execute a really precise and specific business model to develop a collaborative company where we not only continue to manage collections, but we also represent artists in an agency style. We do your typical gallery style where we show artists’ work and they ask when they need help, but we also do a 360 degree approach where we do everything; we help artists find commercial clients, develop connections with other galleries across the globe, as well as provide long-term career management.

Can you tell us more about TW Fine Art, it’s mission and goals as an organization? Is TW Fine Art a for-profit or non-profit gallery?

Ty: We started with one gallery space in Palm Beach, Florida in December which has now grown into two spaces with a second space in Brooklyn. In the next year or two we’re going to be expanding into a third space. We are a for-profit gallery, and we definitely have more of a moral and ethical bend than most contemporary art galleries. Something I’ve found very interesting and in a perfect world would love to move towards is the B Corporation model which is something I also learned about at Columbia. I’m a big believer in the idea that artists should not have to be beholden to grant writing in order to be financially viable. If we as a society let alone an industry actually value what the people who we claim to support do, we should all be working hard enough that they can live a nice quality of life. I feel like the easiest way I can accomplish that and be useful to artists at large is to help them by building these careers and direct relationships with collectors who not only ensure that you can pay your rent, but they’re the people who when in 5-10 years you want to do a real solo exhibition or a retrospective at a museum, those are the people who make it happen. It’s because you spent that time working with a gallery who really cares about building those relationships that that next step even becomes possible.

I wish it were not that way, but again what I found both at Columbia and since leaving is that the non-profit and for-profit art world are a lot more similar and intertwined than people like to admit, so I think the idea of a bifurcation between the two is no longer accurate. We do work with non-profits; Brian Kenny, one of our artists who we currently have a solo exhibition up for, just worked with the first LGBTQ+ health organization in Providence and did a mural highlighting local members of the community who advocated for those resources. We are believers in that element of giving back, and you can do it without sacrificing your artists’ ability to buy materials and rent a studio. Our artists already possess the cultural capital; they need people to assist them with the social and economic capital, and that’s what we’re able to do. We’re able to manage those so that they can focus on the gifts that they can offer culture at large.

You mentioned how TW Fine Art has two locations. What makes the Brooklyn location unique?

Ty: What we really try to be cognizant of is that each location of TW Fine Art is unique and the audience is different, and we really try to cater our content to that. There are certain considerations you make. In Brooklyn, we’re often showing work which I consider to be more avant-garde, and it’s often artists who are based in Brooklyn because we try to keep that hyperlocal element; that’s something we feel very strongly about. Brian Kenny, whose show is up now, is actually in Brooklyn. One of the artists in our next group exhibition literally lives down the block and walked in and showed us her work, and we were like “this is perfect for one of our shows!”…We try to really engage with the community. We’ve also been talking a lot about showing work from some of the people who live in the housing for chronically homeless individuals in Boerum Hill. We’re trying to deeply engage with the local community, and it makes me really happy. I think that as an arts professional let alone an arts administrator, that’s something we should all really consider. Again, this is why I believe you can be for-profit with a moral compass. Something we always think about when we’re planning an exhibition is the fact that we want it to be approachable to those who are not indoctrinated into the art world yet which means we do sell very expensive things to wealthy people, but we also provide an opportunity for anyone without having to pay anything. It’s a free opportunity to see great art, and we take our mission very seriously in serving that audience. You can wear whatever you want and speak however you’d like; we’re still going to treat you with respect and give you the same tour I would give a museum trustee, and I think that’s really valuable in that we have started developing locals who come back in and bring their children. It’s really rewarding to know that we’re adding something to the cultural fabric of this community. 

What are you most excited about in the coming year?

Ty: We sort of do this pendulum from figurative to abstract. I truly love both, but I’m most intrigued when we end up in those middle spaces where they’re starting to flow together. I think we’re about to see a period of abstraction make its way back into the market which I’m very excited about. I have to say there is a hotbed of talent right now in New York, in Philadelphia, in the UK. There’s so much great art talent that is yet to be given the right spotlight. I’m showing 11 artists in my next exhibition which opens on August 24th. I’m showing all these artists for the first time, and I’m so excited about each and every one of them. I really think we’re seeing this moment where we’ll get to see more dialogue between sculpture and painting and the environment versus the pictorial plain, and I think we’re ready for something that demands intellectually a little more of us. I’m ready to see what the market does next, and I’m quite excited. I think we’ll see a resurgence of performance. I’m working with an artist right now who I’m working to bring to the United States, and their work is very interactive. Now that we have the chance to let people into a physical space, I’m excited to see what it looks like when we do these interactive and immersive exhibitions, like taking the crux of the concept of the Museum of Icecream but turning it into something that’s actually intellectually and artistically engaging as much as it is Instagram-friendly and really taking it to that next level where we’re not dumbing down the art but rather we’re elevating the environment and at the same time making it approachable to people.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Ty: I live and breathe what I do. I love my job and love all the artists we’ve ever worked with. To be completely honest, I usually spend my days off with our artists in their studios or going to galleries. This is sort of my whole life. I genuinely couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Catching Up With Alums Megan Zhang (ARAD ‘20) and Mari Takeda (ARAD ‘20)

Megan Zhang (ARAD ‘20) and Mari Takeda (ARAD ‘20) are recent TC graduates. Megan is currently the Administrative Manager at Juilliard Preparatory Division, and Mari Takeda is currently the Donor Relationships Manager at Baltimore Center Stage. For this blog, they caught up with each other on what they’ve been up to since graduation. 

Continue reading “Catching Up With Alums Megan Zhang (ARAD ‘20) and Mari Takeda (ARAD ‘20)”

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. 

Continue reading “Alumni Spotlight on Nicole Chen: Post Sale Administrator at Sotheby’s”

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.

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A screenshot of the team on stage at the GRAMMYs

Continue reading “An Interview with GRAMMY Winner Eric Oberstein”

Alumni Event: Mentoring as Advocacy

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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.

MENTORING AS ADVOCACY: LAUNCH OF THE ARAD MENTORSHIP PROGRAM
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.

Continue reading “Alumni Event: Mentoring as Advocacy”

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.

Continue reading “Alumni Conversation: Daniel Gallant”

Arts as a Catalyst of Social Change: an Interview with Yvonne Senouf

Be the Change
Be the Change an Inside Out Global Project. Photography Alex Kat

Yvonne Senouf (Class of 1991) has more than twenty years of experience in the art world, working in production, development, and communication. Venezuelan-born, Senouf has lived in France, Morocco, the U.S., Spain, and Greece. As a founder of Clinica Aesthetica, an experimental multidisciplinary space, she has produced more than twenty international projects. Currently based in Athens, Greece, Senouf is the co-founder and cultural producer of MELD, an interactive global art platform and collaborative catalyst that commissions, produces, and presents works of art on climate change. In 2015, MELD was nominated for the prestigious COAL Prize Art and Environment, which supports projects in contemporary art related to environmental concerns. ARAD sat down with Senouf recently to discuss ARAD, her current projects, and being an agent for social change.

Continue reading “Arts as a Catalyst of Social Change: an Interview with Yvonne Senouf”

Worth the Risk: An Interview with Amanda White

Amanda White headshotAmanda White is a 2008 graduate of the Arts Administration program and member of ARAD’s inaugural Alumni Committee. She currently serves as the Managing Director of Mixed Blood Theatre Company in Minneapolis. At Mixed Blood, Amanda was the first director of the Radical Hospitality program, which provides no-cost access to all mainstage productions for any audience member, and erases economic barriers in pursuit of building a truly inclusive, global audience.

Amanda is also an actor (she holds an MFA in theatre performance) and Co-Artistic Director (of her company, DalekoArts). She has also done stints at The William Inge Center for the Arts, Lincoln Center, The Araca Group, and Theatre Development Fund.

We had five questions for Amanda, and she had answers.

Hannah Fenlon: What were some of your most formative, exciting or surprising experiences as a performer?

Amanda White: I’ve had the true privilege of lots of exciting and surprising moments as a performer, both on stage and in rehearsal. My first time on stage was at Miss Andrews’ Preschool, in a three-act play called The Silver Thread.  My family came to see it, and they brought Wesley, the little twerp red-haired 5-year-old guy who lived next door.  It was dreamlike, and I was hooked. Continue reading “Worth the Risk: An Interview with Amanda White”

Alumni News: Eric Oberstein (M.A. ’09) Wins GRAMMY for Best Latin Jazz Album

Eric_Oberstein_GRAMMY_3Eric Oberstein (M.A. ’09) is an arts administrator, musician, educator, consultant, and co-chair of the inaugural Alumni Committee for the Program in Arts Administration at Teachers College. And now, he can add GRAMMY and Latin-GRAMMY winner to his list.

Oberstein, who currently works as Associate Director of Duke Performances, his undergraduate alma mater’s professional performing arts presenting organization, just received a GRAMMY award at the 57th Grammy’s for producing “The Offense of the Drum.” Oberstein also won a Latin GRAMMY award in November for producing “Final Night at Birdland,” which won Best Instrumental Album. Both winning albums are from Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. Oberstein has produced five albums for Arturo O’Farrill after serving as Executive Director of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, the New York-based non-profit that supports the work the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO). These albums include 2011’s “40 Acres and a Burro,” which was also nominated for a GRAMMY Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.grammy580

To read more about Eric Oberstein, his recent GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY Award and his continued contributions to arts and arts administration, please visit his website,http://ericoberstein.com/#all.

–Originally posted on TC Alumni News