Art History alumna Neysa Page-Lieberman is a curator, arts administrator, and entrepreneur living in Chicago, IL. We had the amazing opportunity to talk to Neysa and ask her some questions about her career and how FSU impacted her life.
Sincerely, I have been following my passion that I discovered as an FSU art history major since I graduated, for two decades now. Right after, I went to Indiana University on a teaching fellowship and got an MA in art history in art of the African diaspora. Then I shot straight up to Chicago for a lecturing position at the Art Institute of Chicago, fast forward many jobs and apartments later and now I’m the executive director of exhibitions and performance spaces at Columbia College Chicago, chief curator of the Wabash Arts Corridor and founder of my own business, npl projects, in which I produce public art projects and curatorial consulting. Aside from my main work as a curator and arts administrator, I’ve done quite a bit of teaching, publishing and public speaking. I also had twins a few years back and they keep me busier than all of the other stuff combined.
I didn’t come to FSU to study art history; I came for theatre. I thought that was my one and only passion and chose my school accordingly. But in my first year, I moved over to fine arts and eventually art history. I never researched visual arts programs at universities because I was so dead-set on studying theatre, so I always say I was so lucky that FSU also had this top-ranked, diverse art history program so I could stay at the university. I had three brilliant, generous and inspiring faculty members that helped form my curatorial and scholarly worldview. They were Jehanne Teilhet-Fisk, Ed Love and Karen Bearor. Dr. Teilhet-Fisk was my main advisor. She was a South Pacific expert, but taught way beyond that area to give us a fuller understanding of the many art histories left out of the European and male-dominated survey books. She was the first one to introduce me to Haitian art and I can still remember the first slide she showed in class which got me hooked on the African diaspora forever. Ed Love was a gifted sculptor, but also taught African American humanities. He was like a preacher in the way he commanded our attention and got us excited to connect the threads between art, music, dance, theatre and writing made by artists of African descent. Finally Dr. Karen Bearor introduced me to feminist art and theory which had a huge impact on my interests. She had a great way of illustrating how feminist artists, even of other generations, were speaking about things that were still relevant in our lives. All three of these mentors turned me onto critical thinking, curiosity and advocacy for marginalized artists and cultures. I can’t imagine I’d be where I am now without them.
Not that I can think of, but I would love to. I’m still connected to so many people I met at FSU, especially the group of people I met on my study abroad in Italy, but they’re in different fields.
I’m really proud of an exhibition I curated with the iconic feminist art collective Guerrilla Girls called Not Ready to Make Nice: Guerrilla Girls in the Artworld and Beyond. I still pinch myself about that one, the exhibition toured the country for 7 years, wrapping up just this past March. But my current work is always my favorite. I’ve just embarked on a 2-year curatorial project to commission a public artwork in Philadelphia to commemorate a 19-century enslaved woman named Dinah who is being commemorated for her heroic acts. It will be at a historic home called Stenton and it’s in collaboration with The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. I’m having such a blast working with this team, learning about Dinah and researching artists to commission for a monumental work of art. It’s a dream project, so thrilled to be involved.