Art + Culture
- Published Date
- Written by Alison Carney
Alexandra Giniger is founder of theCurated, a New York-based arts consultancy firm. After receiving her Master's degree from Georgetown University, with a concentration in Modern & Contemporary Art Business from Sotheby's Institute of Art (London), Alexandra lived in Washington, DC, where she was recruited as founding Director of Lamont Bishop Gallery. For over three years, Alexandra managed the Brooklyn-based studios of world-renowned artist, Wangechi Mutu, until recently being appointed Finance Director of Greene Naftali Gallery in Chelsea.
We got a chance to speak with Alexandra, pronounced ever-so-hautely alek•SAHNNNN•dra, before the opening of a show she is curating with a real socio-cultural message behind it. Haute Chicago prides itself on being in the know when it comes to fashion, art, music and culture, so the light she is shedding on, not only the art world, but also the constant battle happening in the eastern region of Africa surrounding gay rights is beyond commendable. Let's dive right in.
HC: Where were you in your life when you realized you wanted to dedicate your career to art and the art world?
AG: As a native New Yorker, creative expression has always been a crucial part of my pulse. I was fortunate enough to be exposed to our myriad museums from a young age, and to study fine art, photography, and art history while growing up.
I would say that the pivotal point for me, though, was a summer internship at the Studio Museum in Harlem. This experience opened my eyes to a wide range of artists whose work is generally (and most unfortunately) not represented in the arts curricula, even in the most elite institutions. At the Studio Museum, I was also exposed the multi-faceted practical aspects of the art world. As an arts PR intern, I realized that it was possible to forge a career in the art world that would link my love of the visual sphere and my desire to promote culturally relevant and important people and entities. So, I decided to pursue a Master's Degree from Georgetown University in Art & Museum Studies, with a concentration in Contemporary Art Business from Sotheby's Institute of Art in London. And I've been scavenging this art world ever since.
HC: You have an amazing resume, and while on paper your life is clearly STELLAR, can you talk to us at all about being a woman, more specifically a woman of color in a position of power in the visual art realm?
AG: For being able to thrive as a woman of color in a predominantly white male-dominated art world, I'll have to credit the strong women in my family, who always encouraged me to rise and to follow my passions. In addition, I've been most privileged to have a multitude of very powerful women whom I regard as colleagues, mentors, and friends - Studio Museum's Chief Curator & Director, Thelma Golden; world-renowned visual artist, Wangechi Mutu; independent curators and consultants, Isolde Brielmaier and Nicola Vassel; and Contemporary Art Curator of The Brooklyn Museum, Rujeko Hockley, to name a few.
Without these similarly-driven, similarly-minded women as my role models, let's just say my field of interest would be a very lonely place! Not impossible to penetrate; but I would argue that without women like these who have paved the way, my rate of professional acceleration, while simultaneously staying true to my mission to support black arts and activism, would not have been as rapid.
HC: I would love to hear about the birth of theCurated. Tell us everything!!
AG: theCurated is my newly launched arts consultancy firm. My background and experiences in the art world have been so diverse that I've become an expert in a wide variety of niches within the field. Throughout the years, I've built a very thick network of friends who are currently practicing within the art ecosystem or who are seeking entry, and I realized that most often I've been the go-to person for advice and expertise. I genuinely love and support each project that I'm involved in, so I decided it was time to consolidate my skills with my passions, and make more transparent to the world the ways in which I can help.
HC: Talk to us about Dare You To Look....not just from an artist perspective, but even deeper: your connection to it and how it all came about.
AG: I'm the curator of an exhibition that runs November 19th - January 9th Entitled, Dare You To Look: Radical Realizations in Portraiture, this is the inaugural show of a new Chelsea gallery, Burning in Water Art.
Burning in Water is a purpose-driven contemporary art initiative that has chosen, for this inaugural show, to partner with UHAI EASHRI, a Nairobi-based non-profit doing important and often dangerous work to support gay rights in East Africa. I was first introduced to UHAI when I produced the inaugural Africa's Out! benefit this past June, in my former role as manager of the Brooklyn-based studios of Wangechi Mutu. UHAI reached out to me directly to organize this new collaboration.
If there's one thing I feel more strongly about than art alone, it's the space in which art and activism converge. So, I immediately jumped at the chance to use my knowledge of the arts to shout out in the name of social justice.
HC: What has it been like curating your first show? What can we expect to take from the experience.
AG: I wouldn't necessarily regard this as my first curatorial experience, but it is my first public display of this aspect of my mind. Nor is it my first time being involved in the grand opening of a new gallery, but it has been a while, so I have to say, there were some things that I forgot!
At the end of the day, when foraying into anything new, expect curve-balls. Things pretty much never go as planned, but if you're confident in what you're bringing to the table, everything will get done, and done better than well. At least if I'm involved - ha!
HC: In choosing the perfect works for a show, how do you know? (That might be a secret....but the brain work behind art is fascinating)
AG: To be honest, it's essentially pure instinct. I've been exposed to enough artwork that I intrinsically know what's good and which pieces will look good together. What can I say, I'm a well-versed aesthete.
HC: Are you an artist as well? If so, talk to us about your media.
AG: Though to insiders I'm far more on the business end of the spectrum, the non-fine arts world tends to label me an artist. I'm most definitely a creative soul. I have an unquenchable thirst for creative expression, be it through writing, fashion, living fully and freely. If that's your definition of artistry, then I suppose I fit.
HC: What is a goal of yours that people would really never know about you?
AG: I'm not sure that this is such a secret, but I do eventually need to run my own show. I'd like to work with global clients and arts institutions that afford me the ability to travel at will. theCurated is my first venture into being an independent entrepreneur.
HC: Ok...after the serious questions, we like to get a little fun...kicks or stilettos?
AG: The higher the heel, the closer to Mount Olympus.
HC: White sand beach or white powdered slopes?
AG: I can dig a snowboard, fur, and fire. But if forced to choose? Always the beach. I'm a summer baby island girl.
HC: Whiskey or champagne?
AG: Whiskey in chillier times. Champagne for my real friends at all times.
HC: Ok, last one. You're visiting Chicago and you only have time to hit one gallery. Where are you headed?
AG: I'm an optimist, so let's try to hit three stops in the time of one - I'd start at Kavi Gupta in the hopes that Mickalene Thomas is up, run to Theaster Gates' Stony Island Arts Bank, then end at the Museum of Contemporary Art to check curator Naomi Beckwith's latest show.
HC: That's awesome!! Not only are you amazing, but you're fun to!! You are totally winning!!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors! So for all of our readers, when you come to New York this season, this show is a must see!!
Photo Credit: Mbali Z. Ndlovu
Curated via @iamalisoncarney