The art that our society as a whole creates, supports and preserves speaks for all time about who we are as a people right now at this time and in this place. I look at the art world from an art historian’s point of view and that obviously influences my opinion on the historical importance of the arts. But long before I began my formal education in art history I was a young girl in Wayne, Nebraska who was moved by the power of the arts. My earliest art memories are like jewels that I cherish; powerful bursts of color, light, sound, emotion and creativity that set my life path in motion. But in my heart and mind I truly believed northeast Nebraska was not the place to discover great art nor a place that would ever celebrate creativity and artistic communities. As the executive director of the Norfolk Arts Center I strive to present programs that inspire our patrons by fully celebrating the brilliance of creation and the boldness of both exhibition and performance.
I believe one of the true powers of great artists is their ability to facilitate communication across boundaries; whether the boundaries be social, economic, generational, ethnic, or regional. The arts allow us to communicate, one soul, one mind, one human to another. When one travels to another part of the world the art may look and sound very different; yet a visitor will be moved by the rhythm, shape, or design of that art. You can comprehend a foreign artist’s struggle or passion even if the exact context is lost in translation. The arts facilitate communication at many levels.
Patronage speaks loudly and as a non-profit administrator it is my task to listen …
The arts are a window into a society. A piece of art obviously speaks about the creator but it also tells us about the audience for which it is produced. As we look back through history and analyze various civilizations it is often their artwork that gives us a true measure of the people. What does the art that we produce and support say about us as a people? By purchasing a ticket to a performance or buying a painting from a gallery today’s audiences are letting us know which art forms they find valuable. Patronage speaks loudly and as a non-profit administrator it is my task to listen and help facilitate this conversation between artists and patron. And believe me that task can sometimes lead to amazing rewarding opportunities such as watching a theater full of elementary students transfixed by actors bringing storybook characters to life or the waves of communal joy during a musical performance.
Today my life is dedicated to proving the misguided thoughts of my childhood wrong. Northeast Nebraska is the perfect place to discover great art! This opportunity has once again reminded me how much I adore artists and the thoughts they think and the artworks they produce. These people are not setting out to change the world, they are setting out to produce great artwork and in turn the world is changed. That is what I’ve now dedicated my life to celebrating. The power of creation. The open mind. The willingness to play and discover and push boundaries and then take a moment every once in a while to look around and celebrate our creative Nebraskan selves.
Kara Weander-Gaster holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Art and Art History from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While attending UNL Kara worked at both Morrill Hall and Sheldon Museum of Art (then called the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery). She attended Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York working on a Masters Degree in Art History while also taking graduate courses in the Museum Studies program. She has worked in a variety of art settings from student galleries and poster shops to for-profit galleries and corporate art sales before taking on the position of Executive Director at the Norfolk Arts Center.
Kara has served as the Executive Director of the Norfolk Arts Center for nine years and has spearheaded the current vision and direction of the organization. She has raised the Norfolk Arts Center to a new level of excellence, embraced by the community and strongly supported by area individuals, businesses, and organizations alike. Kara is the northeast Nebraska regional captain for Nebraskan’s for the Arts and serves on the Philanthropy Council of Northeast Nebraska. Kara grew up in Wayne, Nebraska and has a passion to see the successfully presentation of the arts positively impact the communities and citizens throughout northeast and north-central Nebraska.