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

Meet Joanna Calhoun, ARAD’s new Social Media Coordinator

ARAD is delighted to welcome Joanna Calhoun (ARAD ’23) as our new Social Media Manager. Learn more about Joanna, her goals for her new role, and what she does outside of TC.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What was your undergraduate degree focused on?

I am from West Monroe, Louisiana and I earned my undergraduate degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Composition and a Minor in Business Management.

What previous experiences have led you to your current role?

At Tulane University, I took classes in performing arts, visual arts, and business management, and I desired to pursue a career path that allowed me to combine all of these passions. During my undergraduate career, I worked with several arts organizations in Louisiana such as the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, Make Music NOLA, the New Orleans Jazz Museum, and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Each one of these roles helped me discover my love for arts administration and social media management.

How have those experiences informed your current professional path?

During my internships, I gained experience in writing blog posts and articles, conducting interviews, photographing events, creating digital content, and managing social media. I believe these experiences have properly prepared me for the position of Social Media Coordinator. I look forward to further developing my current skills as I am interested in pursuing a career in management, marketing, and social media at an arts organization when I graduate.

What are you looking forward to in taking on this role?

As an incoming student to the ARAD Program, I am very excited to get to know my cohort and collaborate with faculty, staff, and alumni! I am looking forward to using my experience and knowledge towards promoting and strengthening the ARAD program and community.

What do you do outside of your time at TC?

I have been a musician my entire life, and my primary instrument is the violin. You can most often find me playing the violin whether it be as a soloist, in a band, or in a symphony orchestra. My other hobbies include drawing and painting, thrifting, and photography. I also love exploring the city and going to new restaurants, museums, and concerts!

Joanna Calhoun is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Arts Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University. She graduated summa cum laude from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2021 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Composition and a minor in Business Management. At Tulane University, she was a classical violinist in the Tulane Symphony Orchestra throughout all her semesters. Joanna’s professional interests center around marketing, communications, social media management, event programming, and arts education.

Student Spotlight: Myriam Varjacques

Tell us about yourself.

Originally from Paris, France, Myriam Varjacques myriam-varjacquesis a 2014 graduate of Barnard College with a distinction in English and a minor in Dance. She has interned for American Ballet Theatre, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and The New 42nd Street, Inc, among others. From 2014-2016, Myriam was the Marketing Assistant for the Mark Morris Dance Group, where the collaborative environment allowed her to work with nearly every department of the organization on such projects as brochures, company programs, website content management, and audio and video archiving. Her ambitions lie in advocacy and fundraising for the performing arts.

What is your professional ambition or dream?

My dream is to be the executive director of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. I will be interning in the Public Programming department this January working on contracts for two summer festivals so I’m off to a good start!

What are the three things you need to have on you at all times?

My planner, my phone, and lipstick.

Who are your three favorite artists, in any medium?

Too many to count but here are a few… Carrie Fisher Marcelo Gomes (principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre) Patrick Rothfuss (author of The Kingkiller Chronicles)

Student Spotlight: Alexandra Tweedley

What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia alexandra-tweedleyUniversity? 
I was attracted to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University because of the incredible amount of resources available to students as well as the location in New York City, a culturally vibrant city with many opportunities in the arts. Additionally, being located within Teachers College allows students to explore the educational aspects of an arts organization, which I have gained a greater interest in through my time at TC.

Which courses have been the most eye-opening at Teachers College?

One of my favorite classes I have taken at Teachers College is Principles and Practices in the Performing Arts. In this class, we focused on many issues relating to the performing arts and discussed an array of different strategies and methods in which to work towards solutions to these issues, and we heard from various alumni about how they are currently working in the performing arts. This class was very eye-opening because it helped me gain a greater sense of issues which pertain specifically to my field of interest as well as hear alumni insights from the field.

Where have you interned while in the program?
During the program, I have interned at Juilliard Global Ventures, a department within The Juilliard School, as an operations assistant.

What was the most rewarding part of your internship experience?
During my internship experience, I was given several projects, including licensing digital assets for Juilliard Open Studios, an online arts educational app. However, one of the most rewarding experiences of my internship was my involvement in designing and implementing user testing of the Juilliard Open Studios app, which was integral to updates we made to the app a few weeks later and gave me a sense of how new technologies are facilitating performing arts education.

What have been some of your favorite cultural experiences in New York City?
Living near Lincoln Center has been a large bonus for me, because I often take advantage of student rush tickets to various performances there. Additionally, Juilliard has a very extensive performance calendar of great works for a very reasonable price.

Student Spotlight: Jessica Isgro

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Jessica is a Student Mentor for 2016-17

Jessica Isgro graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors from Bucknell University in 2015 where she majored in Music Education and minored in Creative Writing. Jessica has worked in the marketing, publicity, and editorial fields, holding internships with Lincoln Center, West Branch Literary Magazine, Jazz at Lincoln Center, 21C Media Group, and The Princeton Festival. Most recently, she worked as a voice teacher and a freelance publicity writer.

What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University? Initially, I was attracted to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University for its strong, well-rounded curriculum. Additionally, as I interned with various arts organizations, I met many program graduates who passionately detailed the profound impact the program had on the development of their professional abilities.

How are your studies helping to advance your career goals? My studies in the ARAD program have helped me develop and fortify skills that are vital in the field while simultaneously allowing me to pursue my own interests. The strong curriculum makes room for self-directed learning pursuits, allowing ARAD students to develop skills that will allow them to become arts leaders.

Describe student life as a member of the ARAD community. There is never a dull moment for a student in the ARAD community, and our relationships as students extend well beyond the classroom. Within my first semester of the program, my peers and I attended music performances, art exhibitions, sporting events, Student Advocates for the Arts meetings, guest lectures, networking events, and countless restaurants. The ARAD community actively seeks varied and interesting experiences in New York City, both within and beyond the arts scene.

Student Spotlight: Kayli Callahan

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Kayli is a Student Mentor for 2016-17

Kayli Callahan is a 2015 graduate of Cornell University, where she earned a B.A. in the History of Art and minored in Law & Society and Studio Arts. While completing her studies at Cornell, Kayli worked as the Development & Special Events Intern at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. She is currently working at Teachers College as the Annual Fund Department intern in the Office of Development and External Affairs. Kayli plans to pursue her interests in both arts administration and law to work towards bridging the communication gap between arts administrators and governmental policy officials.

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Student Spotlight: Mari Ogino

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Mari is a Student Mentor for 2016-17

Mari Ogino graduated from the University of California Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History. Following graduation, she held positions at a contemporary art gallery in Los Angeles, the FIDM Museum, and the Wildwoods Foundation. Additionally, she volunteered with Oakgrove as the event and site coordinator. Mari is researching visible and invisible barriers that prevent some children from accessing arts education. She also advocates to make arts education accessible to all children. Arts accessibility is the driving force behind her decision to pursue an M.A. in Arts Administration; she wants to ensure that arts programs are fully funded and sustainable.

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Student Spotlight: Jade Ong

Jade Ong
Jade is a Student Mentor for 2016-17

Jade Ong graduated from Tufts University with B.A.s in Clinical Psychology and Art History. In her undergraduate years, she worked in neurology research at Massachusetts General Hospital, and studied the neuropsychological basis of creativity at Harvard. Prior to joining the Arts Administration program, she worked at Christie’s doing auction consignments and sales, lot evaluation, research, and events planning. She currently serves as the co-president of Student Advocates for the Arts at Columbia, and is a member of the Acquisitions Committee at the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum. Jade is originally from Singapore, and is fluent in both Mandarin and English.

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Student Spotlight: Kelly Olshan

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Kelly Olshan is a Student Mentor for 2016-17

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.

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Student Spotlight: Sara Smigen

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Sara is a Student Mentor for 2016-17

Sara Smigen is a 2012 cum laude graduate of Gettysburg College with a Bachelor of Music in Performance (Voice) and a business minor. After college she worked for Proctors and Capital Repertory Theatre in Schenectady and Albany, New York where she worked her way up from intern to Marketing Account Manager. While there some of her favorite duties were designing and coordinating commercial and video shoots, season brochures, and managing subscription campaigns. With her performance background in opera and voice, Sara is particularly interested in building a stronger bridge between opera and musical theatre audiences. She hopes to work in management and season planning for a multidisciplinary performing arts organization.

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