Caribbean art educator earns top award

Trinidadian born artist and educator Daniela Fifi.

Trinidadian born artist and educator Daniela Fifi has been awarded the prestigious Samuel H. Kress Interpretive Fellowship Award, which she will pursue at the esteemed Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University, in New York.

The Samuel H. Kress Fellowship at Art Museums Award is valued at approximately $30,000 and is offered to American art museums to host fellows in a professional environment. The fellowship provides mentored professional development opportunities within American art museums and encourages fellows to explore interpretive careers in art museums, whether as museum educators or future curators, and to expand the range of promising career options available to students of art history and related fields.

Ms Fifi, who is pursuing her doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University, beat out a competitive field of artists, museum educators and future museum curators from across the United States to earn the highly coveted fellowship, which began on Aug. 1.

During the period of her fellowship, Ms Fifi will work closely with Deborah Cullen PhD, Director and Chief Curator of the Miriam and Ira D Wallach Art Gallery, to develop and implement the gallery’s museum education plan towards its move to The LenFest Center of the Arts in 2017. The education plan will focus on developing programming towards audiences in Harlem and its environs, at the gallery’s new home in Manhattanville.

Prior to her arrival in the United States Ms. Fifi worked at the National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago for three years and has been awarded numerous professional and academic honors throughout her career including the Presidents Scholar Award from the Pratt Institute, the Museum Education Research Fellowship at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Columbia University Teachers College International Student Merit Award.

Her current doctoral research examines the sustainability and longevity of museum-community relationships and she is particularly interested in communities that are underrepresented in museums, specifically Caribbean populations.

“I feel truly blessed to be selected as a 2015 Kress Fellow at the Miriam and Ira D Wallach Art Gallery. It’s such a privilege and deep honor to be working with and learning from Deborah Cullen,” stated Ms Fifi on receiving word of her award. “This opportunity will not only allow me to truly engage our youth and larger community at the gallery’s new location, but it will also enable me to continue my research into the strengthening of the links between art institutions and underserved parts of the community, through innovative art education and interactive awareness programs. This has been my passion in the arts as an educator, and consequently, this award is truly an extraordinary opportunity.”

Among Ms Fifi’s recent publications is Doing and Undergoing- A Site Specific Multi Media Art Exhibition at Teacher’s College, Celebrating its 125th Anniversary, (2015).

She is co founder of the Scarlett Project, a nonprofit organization based in Trinidad, which promotes Caribbean Art education through art education workshops and annual theatrical productions.

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