Faces on Fifth: Dr. Radhika Subramaniam of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center
In this installment of Faces on Fifth, our ongoing series of profiles of the people behind Fifth Avenue’s businesses, institutions and buildings we speak to Dr. Radhika Subramaniam, the Director & Chief Curator of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center
Located at 66 Fifth Avenue opposite the New School’s eye-catching new University Center at 65 Fifth, the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center offers a range of public programming, exhibitions and events that Subramaniam says “ bring art and design into broader critical conversations, linking the research and education at The New School to ongoing discourses on global environmental, sociopolitical and urban issues.”
At her post since 2009, Subramaniam oversees an exceptionally versatile and eclectic program: the 66 Fifth Avenue Arnold and Sheila Aronson gallery space hosts up to 15 exhibitions annually, drawn from curriculum-based programs while a second space, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, entered from 13th Street hosts three annual shows, including traveling and home-grown exhibitions, curated by Subramaniam or other faculty, as well as the Parsons Festival, an annual series of art and design events in which new student work in a variety of mediums is exhibited. All exhibitions are open to The New School community and the public.
The link with the immediate community is of utmost importance to Subramaniam. “A major question for me is this: what does it mean for a university to be a neighbor?” she says. “This is as important to answer in local terms as it is in global ones.”
Subramaniam loves the gallery’s location on Fifth. “We have a great central location that straddles Greenwich Village and the Union Square area,” she notes. “We’re right in the center of the city. And then the gallery’s windows create a direct dialogue with the street outside. I think we’re ideally situated – this sort of interactive urbanism is exactly what we like.”
Current and upcoming shows include “Design and Disaster: Kon Wajiro’s Modernologio: Imaging Space through Objects in Japanese Houses,” an exhibition that explores architect and designer Kon Wajiro’s (1888-1973) “visual observations of material practices in Tokyo after the devastating 1923 Earthquake” (March 13 – March 27, 2014), and “Intimate Science,” a show of artists working at the intersection of art, science, and technology which demonstrates “a distinctly autodidactic, heuristic approach to understanding the physical and natural world” (February 6 – April 15, 2014). Information on these shows and others can be found at the center’s website: www.newschool.edu/sjdc
Thanks to Dr. Subramaniam for speaking with us!
Photo credit: Dr. Radhika Subramaniam