Dr. Jennifer Rhodes, the founder of Visual Arts Reimagined interviews the founder of Women of Culture Alexandra Harper. We hope you enjoy this Q & A, and join Women of Culture!

Q : Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

How did Women of Culture Start?

A : Alexandra Harper

I started my career in marketing and then transitioned to graphic design. However, the whole time I was feeling a lack of connection to the arts and especially other women. I had been a contemporary dancer as a child and always been interested in the arts but I didn’t really know a lot of other women that were really engaged with the arts in the way that I wanted to be. I went to an all girls boarding school, and always had a lot of girlfriends but a lot of my friends got married and moved out of the city. I started missing the amazing comradery that you get when you spend time in a community of women. I started thinking about how I could bring these two interests together into something that would be fulfilling to myself and other people. I was meditating a lot at this point in my life and thought to myself,  what if I bring women together which is something I had already been doing with my friends, but on a larger scale. I wanted to bring women together that didn’t necessarily know each other and were also interested in experiencing the arts while sharing my love for the arts with them and see what would happen!

Initially I didn’t know if there would be any people that would show up or be interested but I put a listing on meet up and a bunch of people came. It was a little over two years ago, and some of the people that first came to the very first event still come to the events now. There has definitely been a lot of repeat people, and people have formed friendships from the group that have lasted outside of the group as well. For me the most fulfilling part is having women come that wouldn’t get to see these events or have these experiences on their own. There are women that never went to a dance performance before, and now there are women that love it and that go all the time.

Q : Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

How old is women of culture?

A : Alexandra Harper

Technically I did my very first event in november of 2015 with mostly friends as I was testing it out. My first real event was in January of 2016.
Q : Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

How do you get the word out about your events?

A : Alexandra Harper

Meetup has been a great tool, as well as social media and word of mouth. The majority of people still come from meet up. I also try to go out and do in person networking.

Q : Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Have you gotten any any push back about not including men in your events?

A : Alexandra Harper

I think that I personally feel awkward about talking to men about why there is an element of exclusion. The purpose is not to exclude, especially because there have been men at open panel discussions. I believe that for me the focus was to bring women together, and when you bring men into it, things just shift. Of course it is not bad, and I guess the argument in all women organizations is how men have had their own clubs that have excluded us for so many years. I thought alot about if I would open it to men or if there would be opportunity in the future to have certain events be co ed and I am definitely open to it, but have not found a way to go about it just yet. It would definitely have to be purposeful though.

Q : Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Since you started in 2015, had there been a favorite event that you have hosted?

A : Alexandra Harper

I ask members this question a lot, and I believe that my favorite was an art in the garden party in fall of 2016. This was a pop up art show in partnership with another woman, and the artist came to the event as well. It was a really hot day and then it started raining so we had to bring all of the artwork indoors and it was kind of a disaster but at the same time it was a very unique event. I love any time that there is an event with an artist because it helps everyone who comes to the events understand the art more. I am very  fascinated with artist’s and that will to create something whether people like it or not. A lot of it can be commercial and they have to think about marketing themselves, but it is still so much of their soul that they put out into the world. I am always so in awe of them.

Q : Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Have you seen any trends or changes in the last three years and in the artistic community in New York?

A : Alexandra Harper

If we are talking about visual art there is a lot of work that is trying to be very shocking that is currently being made. I think because artists are trying to sell their work or get attention, there is a lot of work that is just weird to be weird. I understand the need to be innovative and push the envelope. I like a lot of conceptual work, but sometimes it goes to far.

Q : Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Do you have a favorite section of the city for galleries? If you were going to plan your own personal day for art and culture, where would you go and what would you do?

A : Alexandra Harper

That is the best thing about the city is that there is so much to see. Women of Culture just did a lower east side gallery tour, and it was amazing. There is a lot of street art there, and I love all of the restaurants and boutiques. I love that area, as well as Bushwick in Brooklyn. It is hard to pick one place because I always like Chelsea as well. I love the old school big galleries in Chelsea, but now I really want to learn more about the lower east side gallery scene.

Q : From the Crowd

Is Women of Culture your full time job?

A : Alexandra Harper

I am still working part time at Johnson and Johnson as a graphic designer and trying to balance the two worlds.

Q : From the Crowd

How did your graphic design background assist with Women of Culture?

A : Alexandra Harper

Obviously Women of Culture is way different than sitting behind a computer. Being able to create my own graphics and logo as well as use my marketing skills was definitely helpful. I do wish that I studied social media though!

Q : From the Crowd

Before you started the company, did you find any competitors?

A : Alexandra Harper

I definitely looked at other meetups and networking groups. While there are a lot of professional networking groups out there geared towards women, none of them were solely geared towards the arts.

Q : Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Why do you think that is if New York is still the epicenter for art? Why is the idea of socializing and doing cultural things not a priority?

A : Alexandra Harper

I feel as though it is something that people do more and more. It seems to be more of something to do rather than something that people are actually interested in. Part of my wanting to start Women of Culture was noticing that the arts are not prioritized in our society. When I lived in France, there was such a different appreciation level of people going to a museum and really being into it rather than having it be something to just do. I got upset and frustrated when asking friends to go to a $50 show and they would say no and instead would go out and spend $150 at a bar. Sometimes I think there is a gender dynamic. I can’t say the arts are necessarily feminine but it seems to be something women are more drawn to especially when comparing male pass times like sports. Not to make a huge generalization, but there is a bigger emphasis and priority put on sports in our society. I even felt that in school, as being artsy was questioned because art is not a high paying career. There is a lot left to learn about this topic though. I joke because my mom has really gotten into football now.

Q : Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

What team does she root for?

A : Alexandra Harper

She roots for the patriots!

Q : Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Do you have any big goals for the up and coming year?

A : Alexandra Harper

I am definitely trying to grow and get the word out as well as build a membership. I am still trying to decide on the future direction and see if I will eventually move the business to LA.

Q : Dr. Jennifer Rhodes

Is there anything that you want people to know about Women of Culture, or about you to assess whether it is a good fit for them?

A : Alexandra Harper

I would say that the main misconception that I have not done a good job of dispilling is that it is not necessarily for people in the arts. A lot of people ask me if they have to be an artist or work in the arts to join and it is not at all true. It is much more geared towards people that are not necessarily in the arts or that might have some exposure but would like to learn more. I have thought a lot about how to involve and benefit artists in the group. I am really open to meeting and talking to artists and figuring out how we can benefit them. Women of Culture is all about building patronage for the arts and elevating arts in society as a whole.

We thank you so much for coming and sharing your story with us Alex!

Share This
%d bloggers like this: