From the time Guild Hall’s Museum Director/Chief Curator Christina Strassfield was in grammar school, she knew that art would tell the story of her life. “A good friend of my mom’s, who was a teacher at the Greek American Institute in the Bronx, would take us to the Metropolitan Museum and would tell us all about the artists and the wonderful artwork. It was those early moments that really transformed my thinking.”
This early clarity and persistence of vision led to a Masters in Art History from Queens College, followed by a strategic internship with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where Strassfield was fully exposed to the business side of the art world. “At the Met I engaged with gallery directors, curators and really got to see how the business really worked.” With this essential real world experience combined with her education, Strassfield transitioned over to the esteemed Guild Hall where she works today.
Throughout her twenty-year tenure with Guild Hall, Strassfield has organized countless art shows and has cultivated an art program that is now recognized as one of Long Island’s most important. With about ten exhibitions per year, Strassfield and her team have made it their mission to present only great art that has an association with Eastern Suffolk County. “We’ve been fortunate to have some amazing artists come through here. We’ve had Chuck Close, Eric Fischl, Roy Lichtenstein, April Gornik, Larry River, Richard Prince and various others. We work hard here at Guild Hall to serve our community because we understand how important the arts are to its people.”
And Strassfield not only curates for the museum but she’s also involved with the budgeting, fundraising, marketing, grant writing and publicity. “We have a small team here and it can get intense putting together a show. From initially contacting the artists, scheduling transportation, making sure the pieces are properly handled and hung and so on. We’re planning one to two years in advance but we keep doing this because we love it and we know how artwork can change people’s lives.”
Strassfield’s passion to bring the arts to the people has recently crossed over to the academic world. In 2010, she became a professor at Dowling College. Since then, she’s been instrumental in establishing a Museum Studies minor, and in 2013 there are plans to launch a Museum Studies major. “I love academia because you’re able to offer that same inspiration that once set you off as a young person. You can tell the story of life through art. And when you see this come to fruition there’s nothing better.”
Upcoming Exhibit at Guild Hall
Frank Wimberley—Winner of the 2010 Annual Guild Hall Members Exhibition
October 27-January 13, Spiga Gallery
Reception October 27, 5-7pm
Using unusual manipulations of his materials, Wimberley creates works that demonstrate his belief in the unlimited possibilities of abstraction.