Hayley Ferber is an independent curator, educator and artist living in Brooklyn, NY. Her professional mission is to initiate and support creative opportunities in the arts. She accomplishes this in her daily role as Deputy Director of Chashama, a non-profit organization that transforms unused real estate into artist studios and exhibition spaces. Hayley received her BS in Studio Art from New York University and her MAT in Visual Art & Design Education from the Rhode Island School of Design. Since graduating, Hayley has held leadership, curator and arts educator roles in prominent institutions and schools across New York City. She currently sits on the board of the University Council for Art Education as Vice President.
What was your first job in the Arts?
My first official job in the Arts was as Executive Assistant to Anita Durst, Founder and Artistic Director of Chashama in the Spring of 2019.
What was the most useful or important thing you learned at that job?
I learned an incredible amount in this position. Working closely with Anita taught me best practices for maintaining an organized calendar, sending professional emails, and interacting with funders.
Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?
After teaching art in a classroom setting for over 10 years, I decided to transition from art education to art administration. I went freelance in 2018 to gain experience and expand my network. I led family and adult workshops through the Swiss Institute and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and volunteered with organizations such as Young Professionals in the Arts to program professional development opportunities.
What do you do now?
I am now Deputy Director of Chashama. I have a deep respect for Chashama’s mission to provide space for artists and small businesses and am honored to have had the opportunity to grow into this position within the organization. As Deputy Director I get to do a little of everything from reviewing the budget to overseeing our facilities and working with programming. I learn so much every day.
Where are you from?
I am from Long Island, NY.
What is the arts community like there?
There was a small but supportive arts community in the Suffolk County town I grew up in. Throughout Long Island there is great access to arts resources from the Parrish Museum and Pollock-Krasner House to the Nassau County Museum of Art. My proximity to NYC allowed for limitless opportunities to visit world class museums.
Has where you come from shaped what you do in the arts today?
My parents exposed me to the arts at a young age through art classes and frequent visits to museums and galleries in NYC, they very much influenced my connection with art. It has always been a part of my day-to-day life in some way.
What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
My best advice for working in the art world consists of three things:
- Be patient, it takes time to find the right fit and build your credentials.
- Be flexible, you never know where an opportunity will take you.
- Be kind to everyone you meet.
What is one of your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
My greatest accomplishment in my career so far is rising to the position of Deputy Director at Chashama and playing a major role in seeing the organization through the ongoing pandemic.
What has been a challenge for you?
Transitioning from a career in education to administration was a challenge. While I had many transferrable skills my lack of related experience and connections made it difficult to find a way into the Arts. I was grateful that Anita saw value in my experience and gave me hands on opportunities.
What is something you do every day at the office (or your current home office)?
I email and have virtual meetings with staff every day. We work very closely together on all aspects of the organization.
What is one of the weirdest things you have had to do on the job in your career?
Chashama’s upstate residency center, ChaNorth, works with McEnroe’s Organic Farm. For the past two years I’ve gone up there to help the farm organize their turkey orders for Thanksgiving. It’s not something I’d have ever imagined myself doing while working in the Arts but I love spending time on the farm whenever I have the opportunity to do so.
What defines a good employee? What defines a good boss?
A good employee is reliable, flexible in their thinking and is not afraid to communicate the ways in which they need support. A good boss encourages transparency, strong communication, and provides their staff with the support they need to perform their jobs the best they can.
What do you think makes a person hirable?
I always look for a strong level of verbal and written communication. I appreciate when an applicant can demonstrate an understanding of the organization they are interviewing for and what they can bring to the position.
What is your advice to making yourself stand out in your workplace? Any good tips for a giving a great interview?
Having a “can do” attitude goes a long way, try your best to accomplish any task and communicate when you need assistance. Always do research on the company you are interviewing for and have a few questions prepared. Being knowledgeable about an organization shows you have done the extra work to make a good first impression.
Is there any advice you would like to give people entering the art world?
Don’t get discouraged. The art world can seem daunting but all it takes is one opportunity to set you on your path.
Any other anecdotes about your working experience that you would like to share?
Working for Chashama, I’ve had access to amazing real estate throughout the city. This fall we launched Enliven NYC, an initiative to bring commerce, beauty and hope back to NYC by giving space to artists and small businesses. We’ve taken on 5 new spaces in the past few months with an additional 10 potentially coming our way in the new year.
What is the best exhibition you have seen in the last year?
One of my favorite exhibitions that I’ve returned to over and over again is at the newly opened Faurschou New York in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Their current exhibition, The Red Bean Grows in the South, is an incredible mix of artists including Louise Bourgeois, Tracy Emin, Cai Guo-Qiang and Anselm Keifer.
If you could own a work by 5 different artists, who would be in your collection?
The Haas Brothers
What artwork is in your home office?
All of the artwork in my home office has been bought or gifted to me by local artists over the years including beautiful drawings and paintings by Maggie Puckett and Andrew Hockenberry.
How do you think art can play a fundamental role in the world’s recovery?
Art can play a fundamental role in the world’s recovery as a form of expression to help people deal with the traumas they have experienced as well as by bringing people back to NYC and other cultural centers that have seen a depletion in population.
What is your go to snack in quarantine? And your go to soundtrack?
My go to snack has been chocolate- a piece here and there throughout the day to keep me going. My go to soundtrack has been The Strokes newest album, The New Abnormal. The song At the Door has been my anthem.
Since we are all at home and exploring more galleries and museums online, perhaps some for the first time, when the quarantine is lifted, what is your first art filled destination?
I would love to make a visit to the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas. I’ve really enjoyed the content they’ve been posting online, their grounds look beautiful.