Artist Mary Sherman speaks about art, charity


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Artist Mary Sherman, founder of the TransCultural Exchange, is giving a talk on how to run a nonprofit. She said the key to success is to network and work with others.

Jackson Elliott, Reporter

Artist Mary Sherman gave students advice on how to successfully start and run a nonprofit during a talk held Thursday.

Sherman, founder of the TransCultural Exchange, a nonprofit that helps connect artists from more than 60 countries, spoke in Frances Searle Building about her experience in art and nonprofit work.

The talk was part of a series of events organized by the Master of Science in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program, which is hosted by the School of Communication and connects students with professionals. The director of the program, Communication Prof. Pablo Boczkowski, said he helps choose a variety of speakers for MSLCE events.

“We bring eight speakers a year as part of the series,” he said. “We try to bring a mix of people to campus in terms of backgrounds.”

Sherman said she entered the nonprofit world when friends invited her to Vienna to take part in an art show. Though that was her first time organizing a nonprofit art show, she said she learned new skills and enjoyed the opportunity to the point she decided to pursue a career in it.

The most important key to success in nonprofits is utilizing one’s networks, especially when it comes to finding resources, Sherman said. She said she discovered that although many people are willing to donate to art in their community, it’s hard to find donors to fund international art. She added that she learned to rely on networks of people she knew, which helped her organize exhibitions with only a little money.

She also took advantage of networking by seeking help from the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts to help her fill out paperwork required in operating a nonprofit. Looking back on her career, Sherman said she’s grateful for the opportunities she has been given.

“I never thought I’d be here,” she said. “I always thought I’d be making paintings and waiting on tables. I am so happy that I can go around the world … and share ideas.”

First-year Communication graduate student Minda Cerva said she enjoyed the presentation, adding that hearing about Sherman’s pioneering initiative was inspiring.

“I always feel like the idea of starting your own company or your own nonprofit is really gutsy,” Cerva said. “I find motivation from all these people who tell their tales about doing it.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @jacksonatnorth