Passage Arts: Hi Victoria, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Victoria Rogers: I’m an art lover with an interest in business and design. I spent several years overseeing creative initiatives as Director of Arts at Kickstarter. I also oversaw creative projects at the Brooklyn Museum and the Studio Museum in Harlem and at Creative Time, spaces where people can meet art where they are. I want to give people more opportunity to see art where they are.
PA: How did you get involved at the Brooklyn Museum?
VR: I followed the director, Anne Pasternak, who was formerly at Creative Time. I met her when I was just an intern at Creative Time and she asked me to come on board as a trustee when she went to the Brooklyn Museum. It’s been an incredible experience.
PA: And how did you get involved at the Studio Museum?
VR: I’m on the global council there, an advisory council that is a part of the broader museum community. The Studio Museum has been an iconic place for so many curators I respect and so many shows I really love. Before truly understanding its influence, I went to new York with my mom and she took me to the Studio Museum. It’s just always been a part of my life. Thelma Golden is an incredible force in the art world who I really look up to. She’s been able to create this magical space. There have been so many people who have helped build that museum, but she has so many big ideas about the institution and its place in the art world.
PA: You recently appeared in a New York Times article about the importance of Black trustees making institutional change in museums. Can you speak to that experience?
VR: I've been thinking a lot about this as a chairwoman at the Black Trustee Alliance for Art Museums. It’s no secret that the U.S. has a complicated racial history. It’s important that museums reflect that and that can be painful. 2020 has been a reckoning and I think it’s an opportunity to shift the paradigm and to push museums towards anti-racist practice.
PA: How did you get started collecting art?
VR: I started collecting art in high school. In high school I did a paper on Sotheby’s in my economics class and had a chance to go to a Sotheby’s auction. I bought my first piece there. It was a French Post-Impressionist painting, which is so different from what I collect now. It was so academic. It was based off what I had learned about in art history classes. Now I’m far from the auction world and the collecting I do now is based off the artists and the stories I support.
PA: How have you changed as a collector?
VR: Being a collector is a way to support an artist and to be a part of their cheerleading squad, to be a part of their team. That’s what been fun about collecting art, saying, “I want to be a part of this, I want to be a part of this story.” That’s hard to do with a Post-Impressionist painter who’s been dead for centuries. It’s a different level of engagement. Now I collect mostly women artists, Black artists, and other artists of color. My philosophy for collecting art is believing in the artist and their journey. I want to be a part of that. I don’t know every artist I’ve collected infinitely but I do know them. I know their value and I try to learn about that value.
PA: You work closely with a lot of contemporary artists. What is that like? And what are some of your favorite experiences working with artists?
VR: Artists are imaginers. They’re thinking about new paradigms. Artists are people who can imagine new futures and they’re bold enough to put them forward. That inspires me and changes the way I see the world. They make the world changeable and malleable. That’s also helpful for me as a museum trustee, to have almost an artist’s mindset, to be exploratory about the world we live in instead of just taking the world as it is.
PA: We completely agree. So what keeps people, especially young people, away from the art world?
VR: I have friends who are further away from the art world. I wonder if it has to do with galleries tolerating risk. They want to sell to people they already know, but I wonder if there are other ways to get to know people. If you’re new to the art world, you’re essentially being told you’re not good enough. That’s where people disengage. People know that there’s “art history” and “scholars" and “art” and I think it can actually be a vulnerable exercise to say something at a gallery and be turned away. It’s embarrassing to go through. I’m excited about the work you’re doing because you’re opening up the art world to more people. There’s a lot to be done.
PA: Thank you. Do you have any closing advice for people who want to get more involved in the art world?
VR: Follow your heart and get involved! If you’re just getting started, that’s what I would say. Follow people that you love and try it out. Dip your toe. It can feel a little intimidating but I think that if you love an artist and truly believe in their work, collecting is really meaningful. If people are curious, they should go for it.