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Sherry Dobin of Future City chose Alanna Heiss
Sherry Dobin is the founder of Future City (and a Fora Resident) and her choice of hero was unique on the panel in that her hero, Alanna Heiss, is very much alive.
As one of the founders of the Alternative Spaces Movement in New York City in the early 1970s, Heiss turned abandoned and under-utilised spaces into art showcases. Her Clocktower Gallery in Lower Manhattan and her PS1 Building in Queens have been instrumental in presenting artists such as Joel Shapiro, Richard Tuttle and Lynda Benglis to a wider audience.
Sherry regards Alanna Heiss not only as a hero but also as a friend. She knows first hand what makes her such an exceptional curator. ‘Alanna Heiss gave artists risk; she spent time with them and she let them develop their craft,’ said Sherry. ‘Alanna understands artists. Very few curators know how scary it is to be an artist. They are giving their most vulnerable selves when they produce something.’
Spandana Gopal of Tiipoi chose Peggy Guggenheim
The fourth panelist, Spandana Gopal is the founder of Tiipoi which produces homewares inspired by everyday items from India. Spandana described how her family in India did not have any strong connections to the worlds of art and design, but she knew it was the path she wanted to follow. For that reason she chose the trailblazing Peggy Guggenheim, one of the most renowned art collectors of the 20th Century as her hero.
‘Peggy Guggenheim had the courage to be vulnerable. She had the ability to believe in herself,’ said Spandana. ‘There’s something very liberating about a woman who lived her life how she wanted.’
By following her own unique instinct, Guggenheim acquired works by Picasso, Dali, Man Ray and Miro, primarily between 1938 and 1946. In the process, as Spandana observed, Guggenheim ‘created one of the great art collections. Something she did for art’s sake, not for money.’
This Fora event was a wonderful opportunity to hear how the achievements of pioneering women had inspired the current generation of female designers. It was a celebration of creative genius but also of tenacity, determination and a willingness to forge your own direction, often in the face of doubt and hostility. In sharing what and who inspired them, the panel was an inspiration to their audience too. For more opportunities for inspiration, you can check out our upcoming events here.