Exploring art worlds

Exploring art worlds

The "Art Worlds" pilot program is a partnership between the Smith School of Business and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

July 12, 2018


This summer, alongside art camps and classes, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre is offering a new custom program for Smith School of Business students.

Art Worlds: A User’s Guide is a cultural enrichment series designed to provide MBA students with foundational knowledge about art, its history and purposes, and the systems through which it thrives.

Expanding on the Agnes’ Learning through Art initiatives, sessions took place in the galleries and in the David McTavish Art Study Room, augmented by a studio field trip and conversation with 2018 Stonecroft Foundation Artist-in-Residence Tau Lewis.

“This pilot program is designed to introduce the language of art, and to explore the art museum as a forum for ideas and shared encounters,” says Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes. “Through guided discussions and close examination of works of art, these students are gaining insight into how visual art circulates, inspires, and moves people. We want to empower these future business leaders to enjoy artistic culture at large, and to embrace the value of creative process in new ways.”

The program takes advantage of the Agnes collections and expertise to enrich the intense year-long MBA program. This collaboration between the Agnes and Smith was supported by David Saunders, Dean of the Smith School of Business, who sits on the board for the art centre.

“Strong business leadership is more than PowerPoints and numbers. Great leaders need to draw on both sides of the brain – the quantitative, analytical left side and the creative and intuitive right side,” says Dean Saunders. “This program, led by the excellent curators of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, challenges our students to literally see the world differently. I have no doubt they will be stronger leaders as a result.”

In the first session, Jacquelyn N. Coutré, Bader Curator and researcher of European Art, delved into the masterpieces of The Bader Collection to explore the enduring value of Old Master paintings and their high stakes at market. The exhibition Artists at Work: Picturing Practice in the European Tradition provided a setting for discovering the ways in which the history of art is constructed, curated and mobilized.

Sunny Kerr, Curator of Contemporary Art, built on that theme to talk about the ways artists create languages of process and form in a session culminating in an encounter with artist Tau Lewis in her Ontario Hall studio.

Other sessions included Alicia Boutilier, Chief Curator and Curator of Canadian Historical Art, discussing why people collect art and how taste is nurtured, mapping out the paths that artworks take from private homes to public collections, including the role of collectors in evolving museum mandates. Ms. Allen also mapped out big-picture forces and frameworks that shape the creation, presentation, and meaning of art today. 

In the final session, to be held July 12, the tables will be turned when program participants make presentations on artworks within a chosen scenario for their instructors and special guests.  

“Our MBA instructors often encourage us to seek out diverse experiences and flex the mental muscles that enable us to approach problems with a new perspective,” says Danilo Prieto (MBA'19). “As an engineer, I felt it was important to round out my skill set with this experience – to challenge myself to truly appreciate art and creativity and how it adds value to a society.”

The 16 students who completed this initial offering each received a certificate from the Smith School of Business to complement their studies.

Faculty are encouraged to explore bringing the power of art to their programs and courses: information is available on the Agnes' website.

Smith Business