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A large audience gathered to attend the Pratt Presents panel discussion, “Women of Influence in the Business of Art,” which was held during Art Basel Miami Beach at the EDITION Hotel. The December 3 event featured renowned visual artists Shirin Neshat and Pratt alumna Mickalene Thomas (B.F.A. ’00), and Heidi Zuckerman, director of the Aspen Art Museum, who explored the qualities that define female artists and leaders in art today, as well as inspiration and challenges related to their own experiences in overcoming obstacles to achieve success. Stefano Tonchi, editor of W magazine, served as the moderator.

Thomas explained that women are an important source of inspiration in her work. “I tell stories of the women in my world that I truly admire. Family, friends, women that you don't see in media necessarily. These women are my muse,” she said.

When asked by Tonchi whether being a stylish artist can be difficult, Neshat noted that “being feminine and stylish is sometimes perceived as a negative thing, but I think it's truly beautiful.” She spoke about how art has not only let her thrive and be an extension of herself, but helped her survive within her home country of Iran. 

Zuckerman discussed the potential for art to be inclusive. “We know art isn't for everyone, but it can be for anyone. That's where I come in,” she said. She applauded both Neshat and Thomas for the bravery reflected through their art, but more importantly, for setting aside their fears as women in a male-dominated business.

Zuckerman also commended Neshat and Thomas for giving her the opportunity to expose the world to, and influence it through, their art. The conversation then came to a close, and was followed by a post-event reception with champagne cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

The panel discussion garnered media coverage in a number of outlets, including an Observer.com article titled, “Women Are Center Stage at This Year’s Art Basel,” which also featured photographs from the event.

Sponsorship for “Women of Influence in the Business of Art” was provided by: Simon Property Group (presenting sponsor) and Perrier-Jouët (champagne sponsor). W magazine was the media partner.

Image: (L-R) Stefano Tonchi, Shirin Neshat, Mickalene Thomas, and Heidi Zuckerman (photo: Billy Farrell Agency)