Interviewed by Amber Croyle, P.3 Social Media Intern
Throughout her career as Deputy Director of Curatorial Planning at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Director and Curator of The Contemporary Center at New York’s American Folk Art Museum, and Director of the museum at Winston-Salem State University, Brooke Davis Anderson's influence and leadership have resulted in memorable exhibitions, tangible fiscal benefits, and genuine engagement with community.
As a result of her focused scholarship, Brooke has expertise in African American art (especially the work of John Biggers) and has contributed significant research to the work of contemporary, self-taught artists, most notably Martin Ramirez, Henry Darger, and Bessie Harvey.
Now, as Executive Director of Prospect New Orleans, Brooke shares, “I love that Prospect is founded on collaboration and thrives on partnerships. We are so fortunate to have support from all corners of New Orleans. P.3 is going to be a big success primarily because of our colleagues and collaborators!”
Where are you from and what are your most vivid art related memories?
I’m from the shoreline of Connecticut, Madison, where life typically centers around the beach and town sports, but my family was always more arts-centered. At home as children we were always “making” with my mother – drawing, painting, sewing, building. My father’s folk art collection surrounded us. He was a homebuilder and I feel as if I developed the art of looking during our Sunday drives together when we would critique both old and new colonial houses. Ultimately, though, my greatest influence was my grandmother who presented me with a career trajectory. She worked at the Yale University Art Gallery as Secretary to the Director, and it was through her that I first saw original works of art by Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden, two of my all-time favorite artists.
What are the undercurrents of your career that have led to your work at Prospect?
It was as Museum Director at Winston-Salem University in the 1990s, that I discovered my deep concern for and connection with audiences, both new to art and veterans of art experiences. This remains a priority in all of my work, developing opportunities for art, exhibitions, and public programs that reach deep into the corners of a community. Part of the great appeal about Prospect is the way in which it is organized to partner with all sorts of organizations, all variety of venues, and every possible neighborhood in New Orleans. I like that Prospect isn’t located in one building with one main entrance, but actually injects itself into a dozen or more locations all over the city, allowing for encounters with people who have diverse frameworks in which to experience contemporary art.
As someone who could be considered a New Orleans “outsider,” what do you feel that you bring to Prospect?
Yikes! I so don’t feel like an outsider! It’s very important that I feel a sense of belonging. I understand that I live in New York, but I am working hard for this project and already feel welcomed by the community. Our 21st century world becomes smaller and smaller with technology and travel and one of the gifts of working at this time is that we are allowed to expand the reach of the city of New Orleans beyond its physical boundaries. We are a “tri-coastal” staff with employees in Los Angeles, New York, and New Orleans. When I’m here in New York, I’m in New Orleans too.
Franklin’s [Sirmans, P.3 Artistic Director] show will be so much about New Orleans in the 21st century, and when I think about helping to present his ideas, I feel like I’m on the ground there, respectfully making my way around the many communities.
Most importantly, what’s your favorite NOLA restaurant?
I’m not a foodie! However, since my last visit, it’s Carmo on Julia Street! They serve lots of Brazilian and Caribbean veggie dishes in a relaxed atmosphere - it suits my appetite and my attitude.
Next P:3 Profile featuring Ylva Rouse, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, available soon!