Aya Nadar is currently the Gallery Manager at Andrew Kreps Gallery located in Tribeca, New York. Her career started in Toronto, Ontario where she co-founded an emerging artist gallery, VUCO Artspace, after completing her BFA in Sculpture and Installations. Since moving to New York, in 2018, after completing her post-grad in Public Relations, she has worked at multiple contemporary art galleries such as, Leila Heller Gallery, Richard Taittinger Gallery, Foley Gallery, Freight+Volume and now at Andrew Kreps.
What was your first job in the Arts?
While I was in college, I interned as a studio assistant to Palestinian artist Samar Hejazi. My first job out of college was as co-founder and director to VUCO Artspace, a garage style gallery that advocated for and promoted works by emerging artists based in Toronto, Canada. And when I finally moved to NYC, I interned at Leila Heller Gallery.
Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?
My passion for art stemmed predominantly from my mother and the women on my maternal side. My grandmother embellished her home with hand-sewn tapestries, which varied in scale and design – many of which were representational of her Palestinian heritage.
My mother and aunts studied painting and sculpture in London and the homes I have lived in were always filled with large-scale figurative/abstract paintings and sculptures from their own practice and that of other artists that were collected over the years. Majority of which are of Middle Eastern descent.
It is sad to say, but I realized during my undergrad, that I had a greater inclination towards the social and business aspect of the art industry versus a future as a practicing artist… although one does not know what the future holds, and you could find me in a foundry very soon!
What do you do now?
I am the Gallery Manager at Andrew Kreps Gallery.
Where are you from?
I am from Palestine. I am from Lebanon. I am from Iran.
What is the arts community like there?
I sadly can’t speak for the community in Palestine and Iran, as I have never been but I know it reaches far and wide. I can say that Lebanon does not get enough credit outside of the Middle East for producing incredible and talented artists whose stories are just as fascinating as their work.
Like most art communities, Lebanon is tight-knit and the art world is ever changing like its climate. The community is honest and struggling but optimistic. To the majority of Lebanese, living in and out of the country, anything that is produced by and within is magic.
Has where you come from shaped what you do in the arts today?
Definitely. It is in my name and on my face and I bring it with me to work everyday.
What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
Respect your self worth; don’t be afraid to create your own opportunities, develop relationships and be patient.
What is one of the greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
I would say moving to NYC has been the greatest accomplishment towards my career so far. I knew it was going to challenge me and it was exactly what I needed.
What has been a challenge for you?
What do you think defines a good employee? And what defines a good boss?
I don’t think there is one such definition for each, but if there is a willingness to learn from each other and also teach one another through honest and frank communication, that is a good place to start. A lot of employer’s have been in the business for many years, and claim that the way the business has been run has worked for them, but if we understand that change can be good, regardless of where that voice for change may be coming from, it is a good sign when ego is put aside for genuine conversations.
Any other anecdotes about your working experience that you would like to share?
Take every opportunity that comes your way until you have learned something new and valuable from it – it could last a week or two years. As long as it serves your growth.
What is the best exhibition you have seen recently?
Frank Bowling’s solo exhibition at Hauser&Wirth and Hey Tomorrow, Do You Have Some Room For Me: Failure Is A Part Of Being Alive by Arcmanoro Niles at Lehmann Maupin
If you could own a work by 5 different artists, who would be in your collection?
Mark Rothko, Alberto Giacometti, Nabil Nahas, Mona Hatoum, Frank Bowling, Sam Gilliam, Bisa Butler.
What artwork is/was in your home office?
Jana Ghalayni, Khalil Alaik, Sofia Love, Gabriel Aiello, Maria Qamar, Kayla Witt, Samar Hejazi, Tishk Barzanji, Ekow Nimako
And finally, do you think the art world should be more transparent?