Learning is a lifelong process. The ability to upskill and update knowledge based on the art market’s needs is crucial to advancing in your career. Sometimes it involves hard work – get your note pad, pen and thinking cap ready! – but other times it can be as simple as listening to your favourite art girl podcast or consuming bite-sized pieces of content on Instagram. As such, we are presenting the top women who have made it their mission to make education as relevant and as enjoyable as possible for the art world. Here they are:
Sara Mao, director of Christie’s Education in Asia Pacific, @saramao_
Sara Mao holds the prestigious position of director of Christie’s Education in Asia Pacific. She is well educated herself with a masters of letters in history of art and connoisseurship,with a particular focus on Chinese art, from Christie’s Education and the University of Glasgow. In her role, Sara delivers high quality programs across Hong Kong, China and South-East Asia, enabling those of us based in the East the same opportunities to learn as those in the West. On top of that, she also shows us exactly how working mums can do it all on her family-filled Instagram.
Bala Starr, director at La Trobe Art Institute
The intersection of art, curatorial practice and education is exactly where Bala Starr shines the brightest. She is currently the director of the curated university gallery at La Trobe Institute in Melbourne, Australia, where she opens up art education to students and the public alike through a diverse and engaging program of talks and exhibitions. She also has experience as the director of LASALLE’s Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore and as the senior curator at Melbourne University’s Ian Potter Museum of Art, making art education via university resources the focus of her commendable career. Moreover, she regularly develops curatorial workshops and forums and contributes to public programs, symposiumsand advisory panels.
Jennifer Ellis, co-founder of AORA, co-host of “Between Two Curators” podcast, @jenncellis
Curator and art patron, Jennifer Ellis is all about educating through engagement. She is the co-founder and director of AORA, a virtual platform that brings together art, architecture, music and wellbeing, including a host of engagements, talks and online exhibitions – all the better to educate us with. Jennifer also co-hosts the “Between Two Curators” podcast along with curator Cliff Lauson. The two explore creative and inspirational topics, often inviting special guests to join in the conversation. Additionally, she also has a series named “Art Bites” on IGTV where she introduces a global range of artists, museums, exhibitions and organisations – check it out on her Instagram profile. Oh, and did we mention she also somehow finds time to lecture at institutions like Sotheby’s Institute of Art and King’s College London, too?
Christina Chua, co-founder of Metis Art, co-founder and chief editor of so-far, @christina.j.chua
Working in a growing niche in art education, Christina Chua set up Metis Art to train and guide new collectors and patrons on how to enter the art market, build successful collections and truly support artists in these changing times. Christina’s holistic approach rewrites “Art Collecting 101” to include more than just how to spot a savvy investment, but rather providesa comprehensive overview of the scene with long-term support of the arts as the main goal. She also co-founded so-far. The publication x gallery x artist incubator promotes Asian voices at the intersection of art and technology, introducing a diverse range of thoughts and perspectives to a global audience and developing a more comprehensive understanding of art as a worldwide phenomenon.
Ferren Gipson, art historian, writer and presenter, host of “Art Matters” podcast, @ferrengipson
Art historian and doctorial researcher, Ferren Gipson’s approach to art education is anything but dry. Her research covers modern Chinese art history and the ways and means in which art and popular culture meet and mix. Aside from writing articles, contributing to publicationsand giving talks, she hosts Art UK’s “Art Matters” podcast, through which she speaks with a smooth and engaging voice about how art influences and informs the world around us. Ferrenalso has a book soon to be published – “The Ultimate Art Musuem”. Written for young readers, the ‘museum-in-a-book’ educates and inspires via a highly visual journey across40,000 years of world art history.
Sara Riccardi, founder of Art Across, interpretation assistant at Quarry Bank Mill (National Trust), @sara_artacross
Italian-born, UK-based, freelance art historian, Sara Riccardi is on a mission to make the history of art accessible and understandable for all through her company Art Across. Hosting a variety of talks, lectures, workshops and events, she introduces art history in an enjoyable, interactive context, linking it to contemporary art and removing any of the unnecessarily academic language that may exclude some from participating. At the same time, Sara works as an interpretation assistant at the National Trust Quarry Bank site, guiding visitors through the historical space and bringing its story to life.
Hollie Hilton, freelance social media strategist and content producer, @freelancehollie
Freelancer extraordinaire, Hollie Hilton educates the art world in a less formal manner, prioritising accessibility through her down-to-earth style to reach a broad audience. Her topic of expertise? Art marketing and PR (heavy on the social media and content creation with a dash of business development to boot.) So, whether you are an artist, curator, consultant or any kind of art business owner, Hollie’s IG feed and blog are exactly where you need to be.She cut her teeth and gained her stripes as a marketing and communications assistant at The Courtauld Gallery in London after marketing her own accessories business and receiving a degree in art history.
Fanny Lakoubay, NFT and crypto art advisor and specialist, public speaker, @fanny.lakoubay
Keeping up with the huge buzz around crypto art and NFTs, we simply had to include French-born, New York-based Fanny Lakoubay on this list. Fanny is a crypto art advisor andcollector and takes up a variety of opportunities to share her knowledge of the scene,including lecturing at Christie’s Education. Through her services, she guides private clients,institutions and artists to advance into this new frontier and discover all the fresh possibilities crypto and the Metaverse bring to the art world. Fanny also works as head of marketing and communication for RadicalxChange Foundation, a community of activists, artists, entrepreneurs, and scholars seeking radical societal change in the world, as well as founding several other crypto-related companies.
Not only at the vanguard, Leeza Ahmady is THE vanguard of Central Asian art. As an independent curator, educator and art advisor, she champions artists from Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, and is renowned for her research on art practices from the region. To this end, Leeza directs and curates the Asia Contemporary Art Week, which aims to educate audiences in New York, Asia and beyond about Central Asian artists and curators through exhibitions, talks and performances. She also organises academic symposiums and experimental educational forums as well as gives lectures and talks at institutions such as Duke University, The New Museum, Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art, Asia Art Archive and Art Basel Hong Kong, Sharjah Art Foundation, Center for Contemporary Art in Kabul, Afghanistan, and The National Museum of Kazakhstan.
Text by Jamie Bennett