For Victoria Rogers, art is a bridge. “It’s how we connect to each other and our communities, and how we break down barriers,” she said. As Vice President for Arts of the Knight Foundation, Rogers oversees the Knight Arts Challenge, which this year will donate $8 million to fund projects in Miami, St. Paul, Detroit and Akron. “We look for innovative ideas that engage people in new and different ways; ideas that are transformative and create empathy,” she said.
She had an artistic upbringing
Rogers grew up in Kentucky, part of a family that both created and valued art. Her father was a classical musician, and her mother loved to sing. Two aunts were artists; one painted murals, the other portraits.
“I had access to dance and art classes, we drew, and we read voraciously,” she said. “In summer, my sister and I and four cousins performed plays that my aunt wrote. I believe the ability to think creatively is tied to access to the arts.”
‘The ability to think creatively is tied to access to the arts.’
Before joining the Knight Foundation, Rogers was New World Symphony’s executive vice president. Part of the Knight Foundation’s success in enriching the arts scene in Miami and other cities, she said, is because it champions smaller projects. “Every genre has been given more of a voice by the Knight Foundation. It allows more voices to be heard that reflect the ethnicity of our city.”
Having a chance to reflect on art
She loves the idea of finding art in surprising places — “It starts a conversation,” she said — as well as in expected places, like Art Basel Miami Beach. She pointed to the rise in satellite shows during Art Week as an example of an increasing appreciation for all kinds of artists: established and emerging, international and local.
“Basel brings us some of the best contemporary artists,” she said, “but it also gives local artists an opportunity to have their work seen.”
Most importantly, art helps us better understand each other and gives us an opportunity to reflect upon ourselves.
Of course, art also encourages more than introspection and critical thinking.
“At other times, it gives us pure joy,” Rogers said. “It’s a way to express our humanity. I marvel at the capacity people have to create.”