I make it a definitive point in my life to empower my female colleagues and friends to break the glass ceiling. Together, we need to change the patterns of what was taught to us growing up, about how we “should” behave and what is “expected” of us at work and at home. I constantly fight resistance against my crude opinions and advice given to other women about their roles at home and work, for which I make no apologies. Women, especially working mothers, have to work twice as hard, say things twice as clear and waste zero time in order to make it in any field. Equality should be obvious to my daughter’s generation.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Tam Gryn, currently the Head Curator at RAW POP UP. Originally from Venezuela, she lived and worked in France, Italy, Israel and New York City where she was Head of the Curatorial Department for the Artist Pension Trust.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My mother and grandmother were huge supporters of the arts, especially opera. I grew up dancing classical ballet and spending all my weekends at art galleries, the philharmonic orchestra and the opera. Art was a magical escape in the middle of a decaying society such as Venezuela’s. Dancing for the Caracas Metropolitan Ballet, exposed me to all tiers of Venezuelan society. While holding the barre, we were all equal.
Culture for me was the element of my life that paradoxically both elevated me from reality and also connected me to it. This is one of the most important aspects of my work.
With RAW POP UP, I want to curate democratic art experiences that anyone can inherently connect to, no matter what their background or educational level is. Most of the art world I experienced as a young professional was very elitist and exclusive. RAW POP UP is the opposite of that, it is a welcoming experience that is approachable, yet elevating
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
One of my favorite moments was the first time I curated for RAW POP UP here in Miami during Art Basel 2017. We invited a group of performance artists from New York, Amanda+ James. After their opera and dance performance was over, multiple people from the crowd came up to them in utter shock and tears because they had never experienced such a powerful performance work before. Amanda+ James as well as myself, we were also shocked at how people reacted to their work because in New York, many times we felt like we were preaching to the choir, where audiences had ‘seen it all’. However, here in Miami, the audience is very open minded, refreshing, innocent, playful and grateful, which makes working here very rewarding.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
My very first experience as an independent curator was at a charity auction in New York. My colleague and I decided to select 50 artists from all over Latin America. When we committed to the project, we had not even considered how we were going to ship all of the pieces (from Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, etc.) to NYC. After an enormous amount of effort, we found sponsors on board that wanted to support the charity by shipping these artworks. The biggest lesson learned is that sometimes if you stop for a second and realize all the challenges that you have ahead, you freeze and question your power to make it happen. At RAW POP UP, we always make ourselves accountable for making the impossible happen. It is great to look back and think, “how the hell did we pull this off”? And then take on an even bigger challenge for the next one.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
RAW POP UP’s vision is the Interactive Art Movement. Back in the day, paintings were the only connection that humans had to beautiful images. Nowadays, we have access to all the images in the world through our phones and computers. What people are really craving these days is REAL connection. At RAW POP UP, there are impromptu moments in which Performers whisper poetry into a guest’s ear or when guests follow along a dancer’s choreography, transporting all participants into a magical trance. This is an ephemeral moment in time that cannot be repeated. All the technology in the world cannot replace it. It is truthful human connection and creativity at its best.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
The next edition of RAW POP UP takes place in an abandoned department store. Using your 16 human senses, you will experience items that we don’t physically have in our lives anymore as well as ideals that we are quickly forgetting. This experience induces nostalgia of a time that has passed us and challenges us to both value and question our modern ways of living.
Through immersive performances and interactive art installations, you are asked to rethink your values; those that we inherit from the past and their meaning to your contemporary lifestyle. Which of those principles are you keeping and letting go of in order to create a better present and future?
Our generation is partly defined by shifting from time spent on materialism to valuing human interaction. With the evolution of technology, we are quickly recalculating our generational moral codes.
During this time travel experience, you will be asked to measure our generation’s progress in relation to your own personal role in contributing to present-day culture.
In the context of Art Basel, this generation is ready to adopt an artistic model that includes “art as an experience”, coexisting with the currently established model of “art as an object”.
RAW POP UP represents a creative generation that craves participation in a cultural interactive experience. RAW POP UP encourages a symbiotic relationship between creators, performers, their artworks, the audience and the architecture that binds them all together.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
I make it a definitive point in my life to empower my female colleagues and friends to break the glass ceiling. Together, we need to change the patterns of what was taught to us growing up, about how we “should” behave and what is “expected” of us at work and at home.
I constantly fight resistance against my crude opinions and advice given to other women about their roles at home and work, for which I make no apologies.
Women, especially working mothers, have to work twice as hard, say things twice as clear and waste zero time in order to make it in any field. Equality should be obvious to my daughter’s generation.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Radical honesty, empathy and never get comfortable.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I like to surround myself exclusively with people that lift me higher and that I can lift higher in return. Without my family’s love and support and my colleague’s unique diverse perspectives, I would not be where I am today.
I love getting constructive criticism when it comes from a person who wants to help you improve. Tough love is the best kind of love.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Experiencing art using your entire body leaves you no choice but to connect to the message that art is sending you. Our mission during each RAW POP UP is to make you feel very powerful, RAW, honest instincts that define us as humans. Once we feel, we understand, we connect and we can improve together.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
Radical Honesty — If I don’t tell people what I really think, no matter how difficult or painful it is to say, it can misguide my every decision. Radical honesty is a cleansing process with real connection to the receiving end.
Empathy — Always know there are many sides to every story and give people the benefit of the doubt.
Empowerment — If you believe in someone, tell them why and help them bloom.
Example — Lead by example, especially when you are exhausted and on the verge of giving up.
Passion — If you are not passionate about what you are doing, you are in the wrong place.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The Interactive Art Movement: An art movement that makes you take responsibility for your actions. It encourages a symbiotic relationship between creators, performers, their artworks, the audience and the space that binds them all together. All installations unfold and rely on the spectator’s behavior, transcending the look-don’t-touch boundary found within the traditional context of art.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”
― Albert Einstein
My life’s mission is doing everything in my power to open people’s minds.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Anyone who believes in the future of interactive art as the leading driver of the experience economy. Brands are the new patrons of the arts. UBS’s Sergio Ermotti for example, which has advocated for UBS to be a patron of the arts could start thinking about the future generation and their focus on experience. I would love to talk to René Kamm, CEO of Art Basel as well.