Our Alumni Art Star Conversation with Anne Pasternak, Director of Creative Time, was a great success. Anne's event was a unique discussion where, after a brief overview of her life since her time at UMass, she was kind enough to invite students to ask thought-provoking questions about her work with Creative Time and her career as an arts manager. Her openness and sincerity led to a fascinating discussion about the role art can play in social justice.
Among other things, Anne spoke about the role artists can play in having challenging cultural conversations, recognizing that art is an effective way to draw attention to parts of society that may be difficult to face.
Anne also spoke about the years following the "culture wars" in New York, and how she is determined to demonstrate that artists are more than esoteric members of our society. "I want to do more in terms of connecting artist ideas to social justice efforts," she said, "I want to create more channels to do that. I believe our ability to explore is really under utilized."
As an arts manager, Anne shared illuminating anecdotes on the trials and rewards of the job. Referencing in particular a 2003 Creative Time commission, "Light Cycle" where artist Cai Guo-Qiang envisioned a giant circle of light-created via fireworks-over "the heart of New York City" a.k.a Central Park. Pasternak recalled the chaos, recreated the day, as obstacles from inclement weather to an unpredicted marathon took place in their set up area. A good arts manager can roll with any sort of punches, though, and the firework event did partially go off, putting what Anne described as a "halo" over New York. Intended as a work to heal the city, despite press to explain the event, the low clouds held the sound, and area residents mistook the booms not as the fireworks, but as something more sinister. Still, Anne says she would do it again.
Anne concluded by saying that a career in the arts is the one of the most rewarding careers one can have. Working with and learning from artists is fascinating and impassioned work. "I feel so blessed to have had the career I've had" she said, and encouraged all those in attendance to pursue their artistic endeavors with passion; "go forward with openness in your heart and you will do great."
We are so proud to say that Anne is an alumna of UMass and we are inspired by her continually engaging and genuine work as the director of such a fascinating institution. Thanks to the UMass Arts Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council for their support of the Art Star Series. Thanks to our partners at the Art Department, and to the Commonwealth Honors College for the gracious use of their space. Special thanks to the AIMS sound technicians.