Artists, A-list celebrities, art collectors—and GW alumni—flocked to Miami Beach, Florida, this past weekend for Art Basel Miami Beach, one of the biggest art fairs in the United States. The annual four-day festival showcases the best-of-the-best in modern and contemporary art, and members of the South Florida GW community were invited for brunch and a behind-the-scenes look at the European art show’s American cousin.
“The annual event that the South Florida Alumni Network hosts during Art Basel in Miami Beach has regularly been its most successful. With a collection of over 4,000 Colonial alumni in the area, it is a perfect time for the entire GW community to come together and celebrate one of South Florida’s marquee events,” said South Florida Alumni Network Committee Chair Jason Blank, CCAS BA ’02.
Part of the popular GW Culture Buffs program series and co-sponsored by the South Florida Alumni Network and Columbian College Alumni Relations, more than 130 alumni, parents, and friends toured the exhibitions and heard from Bibiana Obler, associate professor of art history; art dealer and cuartor Kenny Schachter, CCAS BA ’84; and Sanjit Sethi, the newly appointed director of GW’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design.
Aristide Collins, GW’s vice president of development and alumni relations, welcomed the group and recognized the incredible network that makes events like this possible. These inspiring staff and alumni leaders are the points of contact and connectivity for the GW community around the nation and the world, he says, which is so important at this exciting time both at GW and in the Making History Campaign.
“Many people think campaigns are all about raising money, and that is one part of it,” he explained. “But one of the most significant aspects is the engagement of our alumni, our friends, our family, coming together to see the mission and the vision of our university in action.”
Part of that vision includes establishing the Corcoran as a new model for integrating arts education with liberal arts, innovation, entrepreneurship, and community engagement within a research university. Sethi, an accomplished artist and educator, will lead this endeavor and, as Collins says: is the best person in the country to do it.
“This is an incredible moment in time,” Sethi said. The production of art objections, like those at Art Basel, is just one element of what will shape the future of creativity, he explains. Sethi encouraged guests to think about how design, community engagement, and science all play a role in shaping artistic innovation and educating the next generation of cultural leaders.
“These things do not exist in a vacuum,” he said. “There’s something phenomenal going on about the production of culture and what that means at an institution that’s blocks away from the White House and for a research institution like GW.”