In Conversation with Mashonda Tifrere: ArtLeadHER's Founder Creating Impact for Female Artists

In Conversation with Mashonda Tifrere: ArtLeadHER's Founder Creating Impact for Female Artists

Courtesy of the subject. 

Courtesy of the subject. 

Mashonda Tifrere has carved out a strong career in the art world through her platform ArtLeadHER, which she founded in 2016. ArtLeadHER's sole focus is to empower and provide opportunities for female artists - all women, of all backgrounds working in various disciplines.  By curating engaging, international shows, presenting at art fairs, and participating in workshops and panels, ArtLeadHER is leading women into power in the art world. Mashonda's platform speaks volumes to me because it's a woman of color at the helm, and ArtLeadHER's intersectional scope has brought together dynamic artists like Delphine Diallo, SWOON, and Lala Abaddon. I speak with Mashonda about Art LeadHER's ambitious agenda, who's inspiring her at the moment, and her upcoming show 'King Woman' which opens on October 12th.

Gallery Gurls: You come from an impressive background in music, what sparked your interest in the art world? 

Mashonda Tifrere: As a young woman in the music industry, I had the opportunity to write and perform songs with some of the greatest artists from my era in hip-hop and R&B. But before that I was always drawn to the visual arts. As a child, I lived with my grandmother and uncle in Harlem, New York. The streets and trains back in the 1980s were covered in graffiti, this captivated me. 

In my home, my uncle painted still life and even created his own version of Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers'. I was fascinated by my uncle because of this. I was always surrounded by art and so it became a part of who I am as a woman. 

I grabbed my first camera when I was around eight years old. I still enjoy taking photos and discovering photographers. I knew that one day I would work in art, but I wasn't sure how. 

Once I began to actually collect art in my early twenties, the art world became more interesting. After graduating from Christie's Education last year, I knew exactly how I wanted to pursue my art career. 

"Galleries and institutions that are open to supporting all-women shows approach me to curate for them. The requests are becoming more frequent and the shows are getting bigger. This makes me happy because it proves that the mission's work is serving its purpose."

Courtesy of the subject. 

Courtesy of the subject. 

Talk to me about ArtLeadHER's purpose and mission for female artists right now.

ArtLeadHER is a mission-based program that I created to empower female artists worldwide. Through exhibitions, educational programming, and youth workshops, ArtLeadHer provides walls for female artists to be seen and stages for them to be heard. 

ArtLeadHER has had some great shows at the former Joseph Gross Gallery and Lawrence Alkin. How do you curate ArtLeadHER's presence in the art market?

Galleries and institutions that are open to supporting all-women shows approach me to curate for them. The requests are becoming more frequent and the shows are getting bigger. This makes me happy because it proves that the mission's workis serving its purpose. 

ArtLeadHER booth at Scope Miami 2016 during Art Basel Miami Beach. Art by Kit King and Ingrid Baars. Couresy of the subject. 

ArtLeadHER booth at Scope Miami 2016 during Art Basel Miami Beach. Art by Kit King and Ingrid Baars. Couresy of the subject. 

Who are some female artists that currently stimulate you artwise?

Wow! Too many to name. I love all of the women in my show but I must say that I am extremely proud of Toyin Ojih Odutola. I've watched her evolution for many years and now she's getting ready to exhibit at the Whitney Museum. That's pure magic to me. 

In October you will be unveiling the new exhibit 'King Woman' at Pen + Brush, a New York City female-centric arts space. Can you expand on the show and the partnership?

The exhibition will be the first collaboration between Pen + Brush, the 123-year-old New York City institution dedicated to promoting the careers of women in the visual and literary arts, and ArtLeadHER, a platform offering exposure and strategic access to the primary market for talented women artists. It is through the unique and critical pairing of recognized and less well-known women artists that this exhibit will showcase the talent, power, and breadth of the work that women can create.

With artists Elizabeth Waggett and Delphine Diallo at ArtLeadHER's workshop for inner city girls in London, Courtesy of the subject. 

With artists Elizabeth Waggett and Delphine Diallo at ArtLeadHER's workshop for inner city girls in London, Courtesy of the subject. 

"I'm a nasty woman because I support and admire other women.. I'm even nastier because I'm relentless in making my dreams come to life!"

In your own words, why are you a Nasty Woman?

I'm a nasty woman because I support and admire other women.. I'm even nastier because I'm relentless in making my dreams come to life! 

Courtesy of the subject. 

Courtesy of the subject. 

'King Woman' will be on view through December 9, 2017 at Pen + Brush, New York City. 

Follow Mashonda Tifrere on Instagram: @mashondatifrere and @artleadher

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