Featured Member of the Month: July 2019
Art is in the Eye of the Perceiver
“Art to me really comes to life in the eye of the perceiver... I find it most interesting to hear how everyone interprets art in their own way. If you go to a gallery and just listen to people discuss the art, you’ll find a thousand different meanings,” says Abby Whitmer, a long-time friend and guest host for our July 11th Wild for Dance event!
Q. Tell us a little about yourself — where are you from, where did you go to school, what do you do, how long have you been in NYC — all the basics :)
AW: When people ask me where I’m from it’s more like a conversation starter than a quick answer. I was born and raised in southeast Florida before moving to Chicago. A bit of a nomad, I came to NYC in 2008 and it’s the place I’ve lived the longest so I call it home. I did a stint in Dallas for a few years and have trotted around the globe a bit.
For work, I’m an Executive in the Beauty Industry and currently working within Private Equity. I love helping the brands I believe in to grow rapidly. My passion, however, is actually more in helping people (small businesses) turn their passion into profit by getting them up & running and getting the word out. That usually doesn’t pay the bills, but I love doing projects like that for artists, creators, small restaurant owners, etc.
For school, I got my undergrad in Political Science with a focus in East Asian Languages & Cultures at University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana. Fun fact: U of I has the oldest working cornfield in the US, and they built the library underground so that it didn’t throw a shadow over the cornfield.
I also graduated last year with my MBA from Southern Methodist University which was an intense & amazing few years of working and going to school. Go ‘stangs!
Q. What does art mean to you and what do you like about it?
AW: Art to me really comes to life in the eye of the perceiver. While I love hearing about an artist’s vision and about the influence behind any piece or performance, I find it most interesting to hear how everyone interprets art in their own way. If you go to a gallery and just listen to people discuss the art, you’ll find a thousand different meanings and that is truly what brings humanism into art for me. I am also in complete awe of artists of all kinds because I lack pretty much any artistic skillset. Unless you count terrible watercoloring and one-chord guitar playing as art.
Q. What is your favorite art form and why?
AW: I adore dance. It moves me more than anything else. It's the way people express themselves using only their bodies to emote. And bringing in any type of musicality to the ebbs & flow of dance is very emotional. I have a close second art form, though, and that is architecture. I don’t know if that’s quite an “art” technically, but it should be! Buildings - new and old - have the ability to inspire just by existing. And the ability to design a space taking into account surrounding environment, nature and people in mind is amazing. Also, I love the inherit link that architecture has to history, geology and evolution of technology.
Q. What do you love most about NYC? Any favorite spots or activities?
AW: I love that in NYC you will never get bored if you just keep eyes and ears open. You will always have an opportunity to grow, learn and expand your worldview — even if you never left NYC.
Favorite spots/activities — Central Park. I encourage everyone to go there for a day and wander — look at the signs, go on the website, listen to the audio tour spots. It’s really amazing how interactive the park is and how much you feel a part of nature in the middle of Manhattan. Don't stick to the paved loops — they’re so crowded. Explore the paths and rambles (during the day, please!) — stop at a cart for food — sit and meditate on a hidden bench by water. There’s so much to explore.
Also food. I love all the food here in NYC. Shoutout to Buddhakan for the best edamame dumplings on earth & all of the little places in Chelsea Market and around the Highline — you can’t go wrong!
Q. What do you love about Women of Culture? What has been your favorite WoC event?
AW: Alex (Founder of WoC) may not love me saying this because she’s aggressively modest and humble, but what I really love about Women of Culture is that I’ve seen her dream become a reality. It’s been truly inspiring to see how Alex, as a longtime friend, has poured her heart into this community and is amazing how much she accomplishes just by bringing people together.
Women of Culture is an ideal come to life — empowering women through the arts. And the amazing women who have joined this “club” are diverse and crazy-impressive in their own right. The fact that there’s a place for us all to come together to explore, bond and learn — no matter what phase of life you’re in — is powerful.
As for my favorite event, it’s too hard to pick one! If I had to, I’d say Dyker Heights Christmas lights limo tour. I begged Alex to do that again because I always missed it while traveling or living afar. It’s so fun, so festive and a really special community-driven art form. I also loved Fall For Dance, because, hello dance — and I got to meet Sonya Tayeh (starstruck!!).