Yale School of Management Reflects on Art and Community
New Haven, CT (April 3, 2017) — Today, Yale School of Management (SOM) launches ESPEJISMO: A Festival of Borrowed Reflections, an artistic collaboration with Colombian-American artist Yazmany Arboleda and the creative agency limeSHIFT. The art manifests as a digital platform and physical installation. From April 24th through April 30th, Espejismo will fill the Bekenstein Atrium of the Yale School of Management with mirrors borrowed from Yale students, New Haven residents, and communities around the world. Laid across the floor of the atrium, the mirrors will transform the space into a garden of reflections that invites viewers to consider the perspectives of others.
The project, initiated by a team of SOM students and conceived by Arboleda, is an inclusive and accessible response to the current divisive and polarized cultural climate. “I have seen the dangers of caustic environments first hand,” says Elaine Dang, one of the project’s student co-leaders, “and I firmly believe that the only way to neutralize those environments is to build empathy and connections between seemingly different people.” To do this, Espejismo poses its fundamental question, “When people see you, what would you like them to know?” Participants can post responses starting today on the website and lend a mirror for the physical installation at SOM. Gayla Burks, the project’s other student co-leader, says that these literal and textual reflections “will allow our community to see others, challenge our conclusions, and check our assumptions about one another, while making people know that they are seen and that they matter.”
At the heart of Espejismo is the imperative to build community that transcends the social and physical bounds of Yale. The SOM students guiding the project are asking people with wide-ranging experiences and concerns to lend mirrors and stories from foreign dignitaries to recent immigrants, school children, and many others. “Every single one of those mirrors has a point of view,” says Arboleda, “and that point of view distorts how you think of the world. Suddenly you’re reframing yourself through another person’s context.”
Artworks capable of exploring and communicating a multiplicity of different experiences and ideas about the world are vital, particularly today. What’s more is that the project is built to reproduce itself: Arboleda envisions installations of borrowed mirrors spreading to other communities inspired by the idea. New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, a supporter of the project, called Espejismo “a meaningful and powerful expression of reflection, diversity, culture and intervention.” “The whole idea is pretty timely,” says SOM Dean Ted Snyder, “This project is about truth, light, connectivity. It’s about everyone being able to participate. This seems to me to be an incredibly powerful idea.”
Anyone interested in participating can do so at www.espejismo.art and follow along on social media with #espejismoart. The deadline to lend a mirror is Friday, April 21st. The launch of the physical installation on April 24th coincides with the 379th Birthday for the City of New Haven, which we will celebrate at City Hall. Then, Yale SOM will host an event in the Bekenstein Atrium on the evening of Thursday, April 27th. All are welcome to join.
About Yale School of Management
The mission of the Yale School of Management is to educate leaders for business and society. The school’s students, faculty, and alumni are committed to understanding the complex forces transforming global markets and using that understanding to build organizations that contribute lasting value to society.
limeSHIFT is a Brooklyn-based and MIT-founded creative agency that activates people and place with purpose through art. By bringing art and artists into communities, we transform spaces into a reflection of community vision and an inspiration for creativity, productivity and connection. Please visit limeSHIFT.com for more details and follow @limeSHIFTart on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
About Yazmany Arboleda
Yazmany Arboleda (b. 1981) is a Colombian-American artist based in New York City. An architect by training, Yazmany’s practice focuses on creating “Living Sculptures” – people coming together to transform their experience of the world. He lectures internationally on the power of art in public space. In 2013, he was named one of Good Magazine’s 100 People Making Our World Better. His work is motivated largely by political, cultural, and social circumstances. He is also Creative Director of the Brooklyn Cottage, Associate Director of Communications for Artists Striving To End Poverty, and a co-founder of the interdisciplinary performance collective Shook Ones. He lectures at UNC, MIT, and other institutions internationally about the power of art in public space. His work has been written about in the New York Times, Washington Post, UK’s Guardian, Fast Company, and Reuters.
About Elizabeth Thys
Elizabeth Thys is vested in organizations being more creative, adaptive and value-driven. She is the CEO and cofounder of limeSHIFT, a creative agency that activates people and place with purpose through art. By bringing art and artists into communities, limeSHIFT transforms spaces into a reflection of community vision and an inspiration for creativity, productivity and connection. Liz holds an MBA from MIT Sloan, where she was a recipient of the Dean’s Fellowship Award and co-chair of Hacking Arts, a unique festival hosted at the MIT Media Lab celebrating entrepreneurship and innovation in the creative industries.
About Gayla Burks
Gayla Burks is an MBA student at the Yale School of Management, where she serves as the Equity and Inclusion Chair for the Student Government. In this role, she strives to build empathy and community among people of varied ideologies and backgrounds.
Early in her career, Gayla joined the Studio Museum in Harlem where she worked to increase access to the arts to underserved communities. This experience coupled with being a native of Memphis – a city with a marred history as the location of Martin Luther King’s assassination – grew her interest in art as a tool in post-conflict reconciliation. Next, Gayla joined as the Director of Partnerships and Research for the Crosstown Development Project, a $200MM real estate project that converted a 1.5MM square foot abandoned warehouse into a mixed-use site, anchored in arts and intentional about equitable community growth in one of Memphis’ poorest neighborhoods.
About Elaine Dang
Elaine Dang is an MBA student at the Yale School of Management. Prior to Yale, Elaine had a career in education and social entrepreneurship. She worked with Teach For America, the nonprofit Americorps organization that enlists teachers to work in underserved American communities, as both a high school math teacher in New Mexico and a recruitment manager. She also spent two years in Kenya where she worked in the startup community, and later survived the 2013 Westgate Mall terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya. This specific experience is a key motivation for why she is passionate about open dialogue and empathy across differences.
Elaine is a first-generation American and her family immigrated to the U.S. in the early 80’s as Vietnamese refugees. Her life and work experiences have significantly shaped her passion for social change and freedom of expression.