CAA News Today

From left to right: Natalia Nakazawa, Meme Omogbai, and Deborah Obalil.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020
2 PM – 3:15 PM (ET)

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Hosted by Art World Conference

Facilitator: Natalia Nakazawa, Artist, Arts Administrator, and Educator

Participants: Deborah Obalil, President and Executive Director of AICAD; Meme Omogbai, Executive Director and CEO of CAA

In 2020, colleges and universities across the world have rushed to adapt to a new reality that questions the very nature of their work: a pandemic sent students home and protests shone a spotlight on inequality supported by many of our institutions, including those in higher education. Since March, everyone involved in education has had to rethink fundamentals and challenge core assumptions ranging from the format of instruction to what and who creates value. Since arts education is historically vulnerable to funding cuts and much of the instruction relies on hands-on studio classes, specialized equipment, in-person mentorship, and tuition dollars, the systemic changes necessary to thrive require radical, ethical thinking. What are the responsibilities and priorities being considered going into this exceptional academic year?

Artist and educator Natalia Nakazawa will facilitate a discussion between two important leaders in arts education: Deborah Obalil, the President and Executive Director of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), and Meme Omogbai, the Executive Director and CEO of the College Art Association (CAA). Both institutions support and advocate for artists, arts workers, and scholars in the art and design fields. Together, they will discuss the evolving paths forward for higher education in the arts, including structural changes and very significant challenges. What is the role of higher education in times of crisis? Since creativity is nurtured by the institutions they oversee, what are the creative solutions being implemented to address health concerns, anti-racism efforts, adjunct culture, and affordability? What are their hopes and expectations for the future?

This 75-minute webinar is designed with everyone in the art world from current students to artists, arts administrators, and art historians in mind. Questions submitted during registration will be incorporated into the discussion as appropriate.

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PARTICIPANT BIOGRAPHIES

Natalia Nakazawa is a Queens-based interdisciplinary artist working across the mediums of painting, textiles, and social practice. Utilizing strategies drawn from a range of experiences in the fields of education, arts administration, and community activism, Nakazawa negotiates spaces between institutions and individuals, often inviting participation and collective imagining. She has held the position of Assistant Director of EFA Studios for over 8 years, supporting a large network of contemporary artists through subsidized studio spaces and professional practice opportunities in midtown Manhattan. Nakazawa received her MFA in studio practice from California College of the Arts, a MSEd from Queens College, and a BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work has recently been exhibited at Wave Hill (Bronx, NY), Arlington Arts Center (Washington, DC), Transmitter Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), Wassaic Project (Wassaic, NY), The Old Stone House in Brooklyn (Brooklyn, NY), and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY). Nakazawa has been an artist-in-residence at MASS MoCA, SPACE on Ryder Farm, The Children’s Museum of Manhattan, and Wassaic Project. She teaches at CUNY.

Deborah Obalil has over twenty years experience as a leader in the national arts and culture industry. She was appointed the Executive Director of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design (AICAD) in June 2012, and then President in the fall 2015. Prior to her appointment with AICAD, Obalil operated a successful boutique arts management consulting firm, Obalil & Associates for four years. The firm provided consultation and facilitation in strategic business planning, marketing research and planning, and board development for non-profit arts organizations, independent artists of all disciplines, and creative for-profit ventures. Obalil has also served as Executive Director of the Alliance of Artists Communities and Director of Arts Marketing Center & Research at the Arts & Business Council of Chicago.

Meme Omogbai is Executive Director and CEO of College Art Association (CAA), the preeminent international support organization for professionals in the visual arts. Before joining CAA, Omogbai served as a member and past Board Chair of the New Jersey Historic Trust, one of four landmark entities dedicated to preservation of the state’s historic and cultural heritage and Montclair State University’s Advisory Board. Named one of 25 Influential Black Women in Business by The Network Journal, Meme has over 25 years of experience in corporate, government, higher education, and museum sectors. As the first American of African descent to chair the American Alliance of Museums, Omogbai led an initiative to rebrand the AAM as a global, inclusive alliance. While COO and Trustee, she spearheaded a major transformation in operating performance at the Newark Museum. During her time as Deputy Assistant Chancellor of New Jersey’s Department of Higher Education, Omogbai received Legislative acknowledgement and was recognized with the New Jersey Meritorious Service Award for her work on college affordability initiatives for families. Omogbai received her MBA from Rutgers University and holds a CPA. She did post-graduate work at Harvard University’s Executive Management Program and has earned the designation of Chartered Global Management Accountant. She studied global museum executive leadership at the J. Paul Getty Trust Museum Leadership Institute, where she also served on the faculty.