About the Speakers

Sara Bodinson '99

Sara Bodinson is Director of Interpretation, Research and Digital Learning at The Museum of Modern Art. She joined the Museum in 2000, coordinating internships for college and graduate students as well as programs and web initiatives for teens. In 2009, she was named Director, Interpretation and Research, overseeing the Museum's interpretive planning process and the development of resources including labels, audio tours, apps, games, and participatory learning spaces as well as qualitative visitor research and evaluation. In 2015, her responsibilities expanded to oversee digital learning initiatives, including MoMA’s online courses.

Bodinson holds a BA in art history and film studies from Smith College and an MA in art history from Hunter College, where she wrote her thesis about the Arab Image Foundation. She is also a member of the executive committee of the Professional Organization of Women in the Arts (POWarts).

 

Shereen Choudhury '11

Shereen Choudhury is an artist, educator, and activist who thrives when creating safe spaces for people to express themselves. She earned her B.A. in Art History from Smith College and her Masters in Urban Education from the University of Southern California.

She is the co-founder of Green Seed Arts, a non-profit that facilitates ecologically-focused community mural projects and art events. She also founded the website RadiantWildheart.com to inspire everyone to live their creative dreams. In all of her endeavors, she fuses her training in art education, yoga, herbalism, expressive arts, permaculture, and social justice. Her mission is to empower people of all ages to connect with the natural world and share their unique gifts. 

About Green Seed Arts, Los Angeles, CA

Green Seed Arts focuses on creative expression, community placemaking, and ecological connection as pathways to a more sustainable future. The staff leads heart-centered collaborative arts groups, producing public artworks and empowering change-makers. They empower people to speak their truth and share their visions and ideas for our collective future; create collaborative artworks that beautify our lives and demonstrate the power of working together; and educate about sustainable living and mindfulness to help regenerate the planet and build thriving communities.

 

Kimberly Drew '12

Kimberly Drew (a.k.a. @museummammy) received her B.A. from Smith College in Art History and African-American Studies, with a concentration in Museum Studies. An avid lover of black culture and art, Drew first experienced the art world as an intern in the Director’s Office of The Studio Museum in Harlem. Her time at the Studio Museum inspired her to start the Tumblr blog Black Contemporary Art, sparking her interest in social media.
Since starting her blog, Drew has worked for Hyperallergic, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and Lehmann Maupin. She has delivered lectures and participated in panel discussions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Performa Biennial, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Art Basel, the Brooklyn Museum and elsewhere. Drew is currently the Social Media Manager at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

Denise A. Gray '97

Denise A. Gray has worked in arts education and museums for over twenty years, starting her career at the Smith College Museum of Art. She spent 12 years at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, developing and managing community, family, youth, and teen programs. As an independent consultant, she has trained museum educators and docents, produced public programs and exhibitions at international galleries and museums, and led public art projects for the City of Los Angeles.

Gray earned a B.A. in art history from Smith College and an M.S. Ed from Bank Street College. From 2002-2011, she served on the Executive Board of the Committee on Education for the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and from 2011-2012 served on the Board of Museum Educators of South California. She has written about contemporary art, exhibitions, and adolescents for AAM, Museum Education Roundtable, the National Art Education Association, and Rizzoli/Skira. Her current work as Manager of School and Alumni Programs at artworxLA merges her interests in art, youth, and museums.

About ArtworxLA, Los Angeles, CA

artworxLA combats the epidemic high school dropout crisis by engaging students in a long-term, sequential arts program offering a pursuable life path that inspires them to stay in school, evolve as unique individuals and flourish as creative adults. They achieve this by:

  • Creatively educating alternative high school teenagers with sustained arts exposure and immersion.
  • Connecting students to a network of peers, artists, cultural partners, higher education, creative industries, and supportive adults.
  • Investing human and financial resources around ongoing, persistent student and alumni support.

 

Kemi Ilesanmi AC'98

Kemi Ilesanmi is the Executive Director of The Laundromat Project which brings arts, artists, and arts programming into everyday spaces, to amplify the creativity that already exists within communities. With nearly two decades experience in the cultural arena, she is inspired by the immense possibilities for joy and social impact at the intersection of arts, justice, and community. Prior to joining The LP, she was Director of Grants and Services at Creative Capital Foundation where she supported the work of American artists making adventurous new work. From 1998-2004, she was visual arts curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. While there, she organized several exhibitions, including “The Squared Circle: Boxing in Contemporary Art,”and ran the visual arts residency program. In 2015, she was appointed by the Mayor of New York City to the Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission. She also serves on the board of EMC Arts. She is a graduate of Smith College, New York University, and Coro Leadership New York.

About The Laundromat Project, New York, NY

The Laundromat Project amplifies the creativity that already exists within communities by using arts and culture to build community networks, solve problems, and enhance a sense of ownership in the places where people live, work, and grow. They envision a world in which artists are understood as valuable assets in every community and everyday people know the power of their own creative capacity to transform their lives, their relationships, and their surroundings.The Laundromat Project believes art, culture, and engaged imaginations can change the way people see their world, open them up to new ideas, and connect them with their neighbors. When artists have the opportunity to build and contribute their unique skills and perspectives to the needs of their neighborhoods, they can be invaluable assets in furthering community wellbeing. When the skills and strategies for igniting creativity are made broadly available to everyday people and purposefully applied as tools for visioning a new and better world, these can be powerful forces for positive, transformative change. Success is seen when, over time - artists and everyday people, newcomers and old-timers, individually and collectively—become more involved in the civic and cultural affairs of their communities, feel more deeply connected to the places and people where they live and work, and bring a sense of creativity to community concerns.

 

Anne Manning '89

As Director of Education and Interpretive Programs at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Anne Manning is responsible for developing initiatives that create transformative and educationally enriching experiences for visitors.

At her previous position as education director at The Baltimore Museum of Art, she oversaw the Education and Interpretation, Library and Archives, and Exhibition Design and Installation Departments. During her tenure at the BMA, Manning led interpretive planning for the reinstallation of the Contemporary, American, African, and Asian Collections and directed the development of the Museum’s Center for People and Art. 

She is also the former curator of education and academic affairs at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin. From 2011 to 2013, she served as museum division director on the board of the National Art Education Association. In 2014, the National Art Education Association named her National Museum Educator of the year.

Manning graduated from Smith College with a bachelor’s in art history and Italian language and literature and earned a master’s in art history at University of Pittsburgh in 1992.

Anne Manning Photo Credit: Howard Korn

 

Leila Tamari '11

Leila Tamari joined ArtPlace America as Program Assistant in 2015. Previously, Leila was Programming Coordinator at Creative Time for three years, where she led various engagement initiatives and produced a diverse range of major public art projects in New York City, from solo artist commissions such as Suzanne Lacy’s Between the Door and the Street (2013) and Kara Walker’s A Subtlety… (2014) to group shows like Funk, God, Jazz, & Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn (2014). Prior to her career in the arts non-profit sector, Leila was trained as a visual artist. She received her B.A. from Smith College in Art History with a Museums Concentration, and while there, she collaborated with notable artists Rick Lowe and Wendy Ewald, which led her to produce public art projects on a larger scale in her native town–New York City. With a budding passion for exploring public art practices globally, Leila presented her field research on public art spaces in Israel and Palestine at the 2011 Social Theory, Politics and the Arts Conference.

About ArtPlace America, Brooklyn, NY

ArtPlace has four core areas of activity:

  1. A national grants program that annually supports creative placemaking projects in communities of all sizes across the country.
  2. Community Development Investments in place-based community planning and development organizations that are working to permanently and sustainably incorporate arts and culture into their core work.
  3. Field building strategies that work to connect and grow the field of practitioners.
  4. Research strategies to understand, document, and disseminate successful creative placemaking practices.

ArtPlace staff believe that successful creative placemaking projects:

  • Define a community based in geography, such as a block, a neighborhood, a city, or a region.
  • Articulate a change the group of people living and working in that community would like to see.
  • Propose an arts-based intervention to help achieve that change.
  • Develop a way to know whether the change occurred.

In everything ArtPlace does and supports, arts and culture work to help achieve a place-based change, which means that it is the community development interventions that are creative, not necessarily the outcomes. In creative placemaking, “creative” is an adverb describing the making, not an adjective describing the place. Successful creative placemaking projects are not measured by how many new arts centers, galleries, or cultural districts are built. Rather, their success is measured in the ways artists, formal and informal arts spaces, and creative interventions have contributed toward community outcomes.