Sue Stoffel interview continued.
Carey: That’s very interesting. What you’re doing for the museums or what you offer to the museums in New York was to help educate people about collecting. It was something they weren’t doing. Is that correct?
Stoffel: It was a long term plan to develop patronage because that doesn’t exist. Where you have Rockefellers, and Carnegies, Vanderbilts, and Whitneys and even the 3 women behind MoMa who were building museums on their own. The U.S. is famous for not conforming and starting out on their own and doing something different, particularly by women which is an interesting fact as well.
Carey: So that began your career in both collecting and in arts administration and fundraising. It sounds like it was all wrapped up in that to some degree.
Stoffel: Absolutely. I came back to New York in ’98, joined the board of Creative Time in 1999 and the Brooklyn Museum right in the middle of the Sensation exhibition, which was an interesting time of course to be a new trustee of a museum.
Carey: Right, that was the museum was really under fire then.
Stoffel: Under fire, yes and former mayor Giuliani never even came to see the show. He didn’t know what he was talking about.
Carey: What always seems to be ironic about that, is that it also created worldwide attention for those “controversial” works that many people may not have known otherwise. I think censorship is awful, and that kind of thing is awful but what’s incredible is how those acts of censorship make this work almost iconic and part of the public consciousness in the way that nothing else really does.
Stoffel: Contemporary art it is a repository for the art of our time, it is the history of our time, it is a truer documentary process than written history. Art that’s made in its time reflects the society in which the artist lived and that’s something that sometimes gets lost in translation.
If you think back to Manet and the Execution of Maximilian, and Marcel Duchamp during World War I, it was absolutely retaliatory against what was the norm. Even the impressionists, they decided they were not going to paint what other people saw but they were going to paint what they saw. And that was a major milestone in the realization that contemporary art is a very vital contribution to history and I think that sometimes gets lost.
Carey: Absolutely. So now you’re back in New York, these are, we’re moving into the early 2000’s, you’ve been on the board or still are at Creative Time and at that point and I know the history of Creative Time so much because that’s when Anne Pasternak was beginning .
Stoffel: Correct, and she’s a force, she’s a major force. It was an honor and a pleasure to work with her and the other board in developing Creative Time into what it is today. I think she came on in 1994. I joined in 1998 and stayed for 10 years.
Carey: So part of your role there was also to organize fundraising and also exhibits?
Stoffel: On both ends. I worked with artists, I worked with Vik Muniz on the skywriting project he did over the skies in New York in 2000.
Carey: That was a beautiful project. I’ll never forget that project.
Stoffel: Yes, it was gorgeous. Of course that could never happen now, after 9/11 but we were busy on the phones trying to find a sky writer who would work for nothing and get that project financed and off the ground. It was so much fun. That’s the best part of being able to contribute to the contemporary fabric is to help projects get realized like that.
Carey: There was a number of things that changed pre and post 9/11 like all the giant shows in the base of the Brooklyn Bridge which was called the anchorage, the shows were absolutely wonderful but I guess that’s impossible now.
Stoffel: Right, that’s correct.