Individualized Major & Colloquium

Art for Our Sake: 

Curatorial Activism and Cultural Institutions as Civic Assets

Colloquium Panel
Grace Aneiza Ali
Kristoffer Diaz
Eugenia Kisin

NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study

My academic work at NYU Gallatin blended arts anthropology, critical writing, curatorial practice, social theory, and arts politics to explore how the arts are linked to ideas of collective and individual “good” or “benefit”.

In my senior colloquium, I pulled from both my academic work and practical experience in nonprofit arts organizations to discuss the philanthropic framing of nonprofit arts organizations as they relate to contemporary activist art, shifting curatorial practices, and public policy in the cultural field.


What ideologies and policies ground contemporary arts organizations in the United States?

How do the arts and arts organizations enrich their communities and benefit the public? In what ways do they fail to do so?

How can established arts institutions become more democratic, equitable organizations?

What kinds of relationships do charity and donation-based business models create?

How can arts organizations better fulfill their roles as civic assets in our current cultural landscape?

How can organizations engage in curatorial activism and make the structural and cultural changes necessary to build a more equitable arts industry?

What are the shifting roles and influences of government funding, corporate sponsorships, arts patronage, foundation grant-making, and cultural institutions' leadership within this work?

Selected Courses

Art History, Anthropology & Curatorial Practice

Social Theory & Curatorial Practice – Prof. Eugenia Kisin

Art of the Anthropocene – Prof. Eugenia Kisin

Aesthetic Justice – Prof. Eugenia Kisin

Curatorial Activism (Tisch Art & Public Policy) – Prof. Grace Aneiza Ali

Women Activist Artists of the 21st Century (Tisch Art & Public Policy) – Prof. Grace Aneiza Ali

Gothic Art in Northern Europe

Renaissance Art (Florence, Italy Campus) – Prof. Silvia Giorgio

Arts Administration, Policy & Producing

Producing Essentials (NYU Tisch)

Business of Nonprofit Management (Wagner Graduate School) – Karen Finley

Public Policy & the Arts (Wagner Graduate School) – Prof. Michael Botwinick

Quantitative Analysis for Public Policy (Wagner Graduate School)

Imagination & Change: Cultural Policy (Tisch Art & Public Policy) – Gonzalo Casales and Caron Atlas

Writing & Criticism

Criticism’s Possible Futures (Advanced Writing Workshop) – Prof. Ben Ratliff

Writing About Dance (Advanced Writing Workshop) – Prof. Julie Malnig

Language is/as Action (Tisch Art & Public Policy) – Prof. Kathy Engel

Dance & Creative Workshops

Postmodern Dance – Prof. Leslie Satin

Making Dance (Choreography) – Prof. Leslie Satin

A Body in Places (Workshop) – Eiko Otake

Art as/and Research (Tisch Art & Public Policy) – Prof. Karen Finley



Aeschylus. The Oresteia: Agamemnon; The Libation Bearers; The Eumenides. Edited by W. B. Stanford. Translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics, 1984.

Aristotle. Poetics. Translated by Anthony John Patrick Kenny, Oxford Univ. Press, 2013.

Bharata, Muni. Nāṭyaśāstra: (Engl. Transl. with Crit. Notes). Translated by Adya Rangacharya, IBH Prakashana, 1986.

Donatello. David. c. 1420, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, Italy.

Selected images from The Getty Apocalypse, Illuminated Gothic Manuscript, mid-13th Century, as seen in: Lewis, Suzanne. “Beyond the Frame: Marginal Figures and Historiated Initials in the Getty Apocalypse.” The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, vol. 20, 1992, pp. 53–76.

Cathedral of Saint-Denis, Gothic Cathedral, 12th Century additions by Abbot Suger, in conversation with:
Maines, Clarke. “Good Works, Social Ties, and the Hope for Salvation: Abbot Suger and Saint-Denis,” 76-94. In Abbot Suger and Saint-Denis: A Symposium, ed. Paula Lieber Gerson (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987).

Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. Edited by Jay L. Halio, Oxford University Press, 2011.


Berlant, Lauren. Cruel Optimism. Duke University Press, 2012.

Bishop, Claire. Radical Museology or, "What's Contemporary" in Museums of Contemporary Art? Koenig Books, 2014.

González, Jennifer A. Subject to Display: Reframing Race in Contemporary Installation Art. MIT, 2011.

Reilly, Maura, and Lucy R. Lippard. Curatorial Activism: Towards an Ethics of Curating. Thames & Hudson, 2018.

Social & Natural Sciences

Cherbo, Joni Maya, et al., editors. Understanding the Arts and Creative Sector in the United States. Rutgers Univ. Press, 2008.

Brown, Adrienne M. Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. AK Press, 2017.

Odell, Jenny. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy. Melville House, 2019.

Sansi, Roger. Art, Anthropology and the Gift. Bloomsbury Academic, an Imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2015.

United States, NYC Office of the Mayor, et al. “Create NYC: A Cultural Plan for All New Yorkers”, City of New York, 2017. createnyc.cityofnewyork.us/.

Area of Concentration

Broad, Eli, et al. The Private Museum of the Future. JRP Ringier Kunstverlag, 2018.

Long Soldier, Layli. Whereas. Graywolf Press, 2017.

Otake, Eiko. “A Body In Places.” 2014-present, Multiple Locations.

Salcedo, Doris. Installations:
Noviembre 6 y 7 (Palace of Justice, Bogotá, Colombia, 2000)
Installation at the 8th International Istanbul Biennial (2003)

Tuckey, Melissa, editor. Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology. The University of Georgia Press, 2018.
Selected poems:
  • “summer, somewhere (excerpt)” by Danez Smith, pp. 32––38.
  • “Focus in Real Time” by June Jordan, pp. 111––112.
  • “Eagle Poem” by Joy Harjo, pg. 299.
  • “Culture and the Universe” by Simon J. Ortiz, pp. 306––307.