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Something l always like to ask people in the art world about is their origin story: how did they got into art? I think everyone has a special story, which often starts in childhood. Carla Shen : I was so thrilled when I found out I was going to be speaking with you. Okay, so one of the earliest memories I have is hanging out with my mother in her pottery studio that she had in Art with carla game Heights, which was just across the street from where I grew up.
She shared it with a few other women, and the studio had a tiny storefront where they all sold their pottery goods. In the back, there was a long narrow space where all their pottery wheels were lined up. We would play with clay, and I would try to use the wheel or experiment with glazes. It really amazed me how my mom and her studio mates could turn these ugly wet lumps into these beautiful objects.
It was magical to see that transformation. Courtesy of Carla Shen. JF : Do you still have an appreciation for ceramics because of your mother? CS : Actually, I do collect a lot of ceramics. And last week I got these two beautiful, colourful, 3D-printed ceramic works by Jolie Ngo. But anyway, it was a very formative experience for me, with my mother. The smell of wet clay… I can still smell it.
I love that your mother was also an artist. Did she encourage you to study art and retain this creativity in your family? Photo: Casey Kelbaugh. CS : She was supportive of anything I wanted to do. She worked at the Brooklyn Museum for 35 years, which was a big reason why l developed my love of museums, and it clearly established my emotional connection to this institution. JF : Is that why the Brooklyn Museum is the focus of your patronage today? I have very strong ties to both of them since Green-Wood is actually where my mom is buried.
It has a great art programme. Did you also see the Sophie Calle installation there? CS : Green-Wood just created a residency programme, so we have our first artist in residence, Heidi Lau. I want to do all that I can to support both organisations and the important roles that they serve in the community. I recently ed the advisory board of Art with carla game Funders Forum, which is an advocacy media and research platform that wants to bring different groups of people together to develop new models of cultural philanthropy, especially targeted to younger generations.
JF : So much of the art world is comprised of an ecosystem of people mutually supporting each other. With younger artists — especially women artists, women artists of colour — we need supporters who can grow with them, alongside their careers. This is one area where technology comes into the picture, for me. How did you get on social media? Occasionally, there are times where I proactively try to match certain artists or shows, and that takes a little more thought and planning.
I never take myself too seriously. We all wear clothes, so fashion is an entry point that everyone can relate to. I wonder, what other ways you think we can find to make the art world more accessible? CS : Education and technology are the two things that come to mind. On education, and this is obviously not a new thought: but exposing kids to art at a young age and continuing art education through childhood is just so extremely important.
JF : I completely agree that so much of early childhood exposure to art makes a difference. In the same way that we teach kids to read, we should be teaching them how to look at images. During the Basquiat show at the Brooklyn Museum, I even remember seeing his junior membership card on view. It all made perfect sense. JF : Thinking again about your mother and her legacy in terms of leading a path for you in art: what is the legacy that you hope to leave behind, as a collector?
As much as I can, I do art with carla game to meet the artists in my collection and get to know them and help spread the word about their work and make introductions. The majority of my collection is by female artists and artists of colour, and I have a lot of figurative work; I want the figures in the art we live with to reflect a really broad range of narratives. To support the institutions that collect artists whose stories should be told is the long game of legacy. JF : Are there any Asian-American artists personally important to you? I just bought a painting by an artist named Tidawhitney Lek.
She is Cambodian American, and her paintings are beautiful, lush colours, and mostly figures in domestic spaces that portray Asian experiences of first-generation Americans. I also have to mention Susan Chen, who is fantastic and has a real sense of humour in her paintings. I also recently bought a work by Sally Han. She paints with such precise, detailed strokes, and I love how she portrays Asian women.
I should also mention Maia Cruz Palileo. I met her five years ago when I went to her studio and have been collecting small works of hers through the years. And I think, somehow with all of the attacks against Asian-American elders art with carla game the past few months, it has made me want to educate myself more about our shared API history and really figure out ways to support the API communities, both the neighbourhood communities as well as the artistic communities. I believe there should be a dedicated organisation or organisations focused on supporting the Asian American artists of our time, to provide resources for a community around this specific experience, which is also so varied.
We had that discussion right before the pandemic, we should take it up again…. JF : Definitely! Maybe we need to start this new space together… Okay my final question for you is going to be a fun one. Can you tell us two truths and a lie? CS: Yes. I did plan this one ahead of time because I had to think about it. Here are my two truths and a lie. The next one is, two days ago, I stood naked in the Brooklyn Museum for three hours, and the last one is, three days ago, I sold my first NFT that was a portfolio of my art and fashion CarlasCamo matches.
Were you…? I assume you were obviously dressed accordingly on that day. CS : I was wearing a lot of polka dots and a lot of colourful things, and my friends were taking pictures. An older woman stopped me to ask if I was the artist, if I was Kusama, and I said, no, I am not a year-old, petite woman. JF : …who has been living in an asylum in Japan since ! Main image: Carla Shen in her New York apartment. Carla Shen is Brooklyn-based art lover, collector and philanthropist. Over the past four years, she has developed a hobby where she dresses to match art under her Instagram hashtag, CarlasCamo.
JiaJia Fei is a digital strategist with over a decade of experience leading digital teams within cultural institutions, including the Solomon R. As founder of the first digital agency for art, her new practice is centered around the mission of making art more accessible through technology. From leading public initiatives at Kickstarter to her role in the Black Trustee Alliance for art museums, Victoria Rogers is using the universal language of art to open up the dialogue.
What art has been keeping the actor, collector and judge of the Turner Prize company during lockdown? The artist speaks to Hans Ulrich Obrist about poetry, plants and planning for a precarious future. In Membership. JF : Yes, that was beautiful. Photo: Casey Kelbaugh JF : So much of the art world is comprised of an ecosystem of people mutually supporting each other. Photo: Casey Kelbaugh JF : I completely agree that so much of early childhood exposure to art makes a difference. CS : I agree. We had that discussion right before the pandemic, we should take it up again… JF : Definitely!
CS : It was very cute, nonetheless. Carla Shen.
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