Victoria Rogers is a creative business strategist living in New York. From advising nonprofits to serving on the boards of the Brooklyn Museum and Creative Time, she juggles many commitments in her life and is using the universal language of art to open up the dialogue around diversity and inclusion.
As Director of Arts at Kickstarter, Victoria partnered with Little Sun to launch the Little Sun Charge in 2015. Today, she sits on the board of the organization to make sure that it’s inclusive and supports the broader diversity of our world.
We sat down with Victoria to discuss why she is more interested in art that has a connection to social causes and what she hopes to contribute to Little Sun.
LS: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Chicago and studied art history in college. I then moved to New York to work as Director of Arts at Kickstarter for four years before going back to school again. Currently, I’m getting an M. F. A. in Industrial Design at Parsons School of Design.
I’m deeply interested in the relationship between everyday life and culture and how the latter helps shape the way people view themselves and view others. This also sits at the heart of what I do as a board member at the Brooklyn Museum.
LS: Do you remember the first time you became interested in the arts?
I loved making art when I was growing up as an only child. It was a way to have fun and preoccupy myself when there weren’t others to play with. My interest in art history began a little bit later though. As a young girl, I visited The Prado Museum in Madrid and saw the Velázquez painting Las Meninas. I remember reading a little placard and feeling as though I could step into the painting and almost speak to Infanta Margaret Theresa.
The fact that this artwork had survived throughout decades so that I could see it and learn everything about it was fascinating to me. I think that was a crucial moment that connected me to the art world in a very special way.
LS: It seems you visited a lot of museums as a young girl. Did your parents bring you there and spark that interest in you?
Yes, I showed an interest in art at a young age and my parents were very supportive of that. I was lucky to grow up in Chicago as there were some incredible art institutions in the city. I lived close to the Museum of Contemporary Art and attended a lot of art classes over the summer or after school. Often times, I was the youngest person by several decades and these classes helped me bond with people of all ages and learn about their lives. I’ve always loved art’s ability to really draw connections between people who might not seem to have so much in common.
LS: You worked at Kickstarter as Director of Arts. What led you to get involved with fundraising?
I was attracted to the diversity of projects more than the fundraising side. My work at Kickstarter was an eye-opening experience because it helped me get to know and engage with hundreds of creative projects from across the world. Then, of course, this resulted in me being very involved and wanting to help people raise funds for their ideas. This was also the time when I got to know about the Little Sun project and loved it from the very beginning.
LS: Talking about Little Sun, we are very pleased to have you as a board member. Why did you decide to join the organization?
I loved working with the Little Sun team while I was at Kickstarter. I remember visiting Olafur Eliasson’s studio in Berlin and feeling this communal sense of it, of people making lunch for one another and then sharing the clean-up duties. Everyone I met there was socially engaged and kind, and also sharp and thoughtful. I was just really impressed by the team that I saw. It got to me.
On the other hand, I’ve always been committed to supporting artists who are socially engaged and for me, Little Sun is one of the iconic projects that’s come out of an artist’s vision for how the world could be a different place. I’m excited to be involved in shaping the organization more intimately.
LS: What do you hope to contribute to Little Sun?
I believe that cultural institutions and nonprofits, such as Little Sun, have the responsibility to think about how art and culture can change the world in a way that’s inclusive and supports the broader diversity of our world. In my work, I’m deeply focused on equity and inclusion and I hope that I can bring some of the research and experience that I have from other organizations to Little Sun.
LS: You are also an avid art collector. Do you remember the first artwork that you collected?
I’m sitting right underneath it. It’s this piece by Emile Bernard, who’s a French post-impressionist painter. It’s so unlike anything else that I have now. At the time I got it, I was studying economics and art history and was just about to write a paper about Sotheby’s, so my dad brought me to an auction. We ended up bidding on this artwork and now it’s the only piece I’ve ever bought in an auction as well as the only piece that’s not contemporary that I have.
LS: How do you feel about it now? Do you still appreciate it or do you ponder, “Gosh, what was I thinking?”
Let’s say that I appreciate it mostly because of the memory with my dad more than its specific look.
LS: Talking about auctions, how do you find contemporary artists to work with or buy art from?
I follow artists on Instagram and I also follow a few residency programs. I gain a great deal of inspiration from them.
LS: At Little Sun, our aim is to work with artists on causes that are dear to our hearts, such as climate change. Do you think that every art piece should stand for a specific cause and thus has more impact?
Art can take many different forms and the beauty of it is often the freedom that one has while creating it. So, no, I don’t think that every artwork should have a cause behind it. It’s just that I happen to be more interested in art that has a connection to social causes.
LS: In your opinion, what’s the role of art in changing the society we live in?
Artists often create a space for dialogue. And that’s really important because if we want to shape the world in a specific way, we do this by opening a conversation first, right? On one hand, artists are very good at reflecting our society, and looking at their work can give us a sense of where we are at the moment. And on the other, they are skilled at imagining different futures than the one that we’re living in now and can show us the way forward.
At Little Sun, we engage artists and creative voices to craft new narratives that guide humanity to a better future. Through our culture programs, we want to change the narrative about renewable energy and climate action, to create new spaces that inspire and ignite the imagination. If you want to read more about our efforts, head over to our Culture page or check out our most recent campaign Fast Forward.