Arts and Nonprofit Experience

My work in the nonprofit sector includes fundraising, public program development, special events management and market research programs for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, Hartford College for Women (HCW) in Hartford, CT and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

I have a strong background in arts management and community and public program development.

I’ve partnered with organizations such as the Connecticut Forum, the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the School of the Hartford Ballet, the Hartford Stage Company, Company One Theatre and the University of Hartford on developing and promoting a wide range of community and public events in the Hartford, CT area.

During my time working at HCW – shortly before my #womenintech days – I had the opportunity to develop events designed to recognize a wide range of women leaders. These programs included the launch of the HCW Woman of the Year Awards and the launch of the Women Connect educational and networking series. Both of these highly successful programs were produced in conjunction with the Hartford Club.

I also had the opportunity to collaborate on conferences and public programs with organizations such as the the Hispanic Health Council and the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, and regularly promoted events featuring activists, celebrities and educational and political figures such as United States Senators Chris Dodd and Joseph Lieberman, Gloria Steinem, Ellen Goodman, Billie Jean King, Deborah Norville, Sarah Brady and Faye Wattleton.

Part of my time at HCW was spent as director of the Miriam B. Butterworth public art gallery where I curated, designed and installed exhibitions focused on diversity and women’s issues and where I featured female artists working at the regional, national and international level.

I launched the HCW visiting artist program that brought Irina Nakhova to the HCW campus while she prepared to participate in the international women’s exhibition, Dialogue with the Other. This exhibition took place in Denmark and in addition to Nakhova, included works from Louise Bourgeois, Nancy Chunn, Dorothy Cross, Paloma Navares, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith and Nancy Spero.

These programs generated significant media coverage in top-tier print and broadcast outlets and were extremely instrumental in helping to bring a wide range of new and nontraditional audiences to the historic HCW campus.

I enjoy blogging casually about my days at HCW here.

Russ DeVeau at Hartford College for Women Gloria Steinem Debra Norville Bille Jean King Russell DeVeauThe photo above was taken on the main green of the HCW campus in the spring of 1995. I was standing to the photographer’s left when he took this picture. My HCW team had just finished installing the first Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame exhibition in the Miriam B. Butterworth Art Gallery when this picture was taken.

These women came to campus to preview the exhibition before it opened to the public and before they participated in the Connecticut Forum’s American Women in Focus event that took place later that evening at Hartford’s Bushnell Hall. From left to right, Sarah Brady, Faye Wattleton, Eileen Kraus, Ellen Goodman, Billie Jean King, and Debra Norville.

The photo below is a picture of a Hartford Courant press clipping of a story covering Gloria Steinem’s visit to Hartford as part of the Women Connect educational and networking series. I had an early role in producing Women Connect, working shoulder to shoulder with my pal Sandra Bursey, who at the time, was director of membership at the Hartford Club.

russ deveau at hartford college for women russell deveau blog

The image above is from the Dialogue with the Other promotional catalog. It’s a great photo of Nakhova’s exhibition on display in Denmark. The image shows several classical Greek statues superbly painted on old Russian army coats by Nakhova. 

The used army coats were mounted on mannequins and wired so that when they were touched – and viewers were encouraged to touch – they spoke using hidden sensors and recorded messages Nakhova had incorporated into every coat used in the exhibition.

The painted coats were certainly interesting to look at on their own. But it was the carefully orchestrated and hidden voice technology that added a surprising interactive dimension to the entire installation.

No one visiting the exhibition expected the statues to talk. But it was what the statues said that generated the most surprise among those attending the exhibition.

Sometimes touching a coat would cause a statue to say something obnoxiously funny. Other times a touch would cause a statue to say something incredibly racist, sexist or homophobic. 

The coats installation was somewhat groundbreaking in the early 1990s when it came to how technology was used in the exhibition.

The exhibit was also somewhat groundbreaking when it came to how Nakhova addressed a wide range of human issues in the coats installation.

Nakhova added a voice to the coats to shine a spotlight on racial, anti-Semitic and social justice issues, subjects many people didn’t want to discuss at the time.

She addressed these issues by incorporating shocking statements, an element of surprise and a high degree of humor into the Dialogue with the Other installation.

Nakhova’s coats remain a powerful and fun exhibition to view and experience today. Check out some additional photos of the coats on display in various exhibitions and galleries over the years since Dialogue with the Other took place here. – Russ DeVeau