Talking GOOD with Robin Held

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Robin Held helps young artists achieve their dreams.

Robin is the Executive Director of Reel Grrls, an organization dedicated to giving young women (ages 9-21) media production skills so they can have the tools to express their stories and ideas.

Prior to working at Reel Grrls, Robin was the Deputy Director of Collections at the Frye Art Museum (where she breathed new life into the traditional exhibits and won a Stranger Genius Award in 2005 for her success). Before working at the Frye, the California native was an Associate Curator at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington.

Some of Robin’s many accomplishments (apart from her tango skills) include a Goethe Institute Visiting Scholar Travel Award and a Getty Grant Program Curatorial Research Fellowship. She was also a Center for Curatorial Leadership Fellow.

Throughout her career Robin has helped many voiceless individuals express themselves through their art. This is undoubtedly due to her passion, intellect, and love of beautiful and interesting things. Her creative eye has of course influenced her style choices (Robin is one chic lady!). Check out this profile to learn more about her fashion panache. Since I too am widely recognized as being fashion forward ... I can appreciate Robin's sense of style!

Above all Robin loves her life. She has learned and grown exponentially over the years and lives without regrets, a trait that is extremely inspirational.

Thanks for talking with us Robin!

1. IN JUST ONE SENTENCE, WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE? To live well, to love deeply, to be present, to hold with care.

2. WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH BEFORE YOU “EXPIRE?” I don’t have a “bucket list.” I have been fortunate to live and love well, and to be loved, to hurt and grow and learn and understand my capacities, to have close friends and respect from my peers. I have contributed to contemporary discourse and to scholarship. I have helped many artists realize their most ambitious dreams, helped museums thrive and nonprofits grow. Any day that I have sex with or dance tango with my partner Korby Sears is a day I can leave this world in peace.

3. IF YOU COULD MEET WITH ANYONE (ALIVE), WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU ASK THEM? I would like to meet and talk with Russian free diver Natalia Molchanova about testing our bodies’ physical limits. I would like to spend time with choreographer Crystal Pite, understanding the world through her eyes. I would like to spend a day shadowing Hilary Clinton.

4. WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK BE?  Yes and More and Yes and Yes and Why. 

5. WHO WOULD PLAY YOU, IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE? Wesley Snipes, Tilda Swinton, or Quvenzhané Wallis.

6. WHAT IS A BELIEF THAT IS CORE TO YOUR BEING? Making changes the way you see yourself, your world, and your possibilities. Reel Grrls is built on the understanding that women make a positive difference in arts, culture, and social justice. Reel Grrls creates filmmakers, artists, broadcast journalists, designers, thinkers – who are also more critical consumers of images, and of media.

7. WHO ARE YOUR HEROES?  I am personally inspired by the achievements of the young women artists at Reel Grrls; I learn from them every day.

8. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?  I would be the director of an incubation lab committed to artists and their ideas. Or I would be living in Buenos Aires, improving my tango.

9. TELL US SOMETHING SURPRISING ABOUT YOURSELF. I dance tango. I love horror films.


Why did you join Reel Grrls?

I joined Reel Grrls in March 2012. Before that, I spent more than 15 years as a curator of contemporary art; I worked directly with artists to fulfill their biggest dreams, created museum exhibition and built museum collections of some of the most compelling and challenging art of our time. Many of the artists I worked with were under-recognized women—from around the world and from within our own city—who possess enormous creative talent and drive but struggled to have their voices heard. Reel Grrls staff, trustees, mentors, and instructors work every day to mentor young women and provide them with the most expansive horizons possible at that crucial early stage when they are just beginning to imagine themselves as artists.

What are some things you love about your neighborhood?

Sarah Bergmann’s Pollinator Pathway, Seattle’s best 21st century park; Greg Lundgren’s Lundgren Monuments, a gallery of artist-made urns and reliquaries, and alternate solutions for one’s ashes; Compline, the Sunday night service at St. Mark’s Cathedral; Century Ballroom, the heart of social dancing in our city; Maneki, Seattle’s oldest Japanese restaurant.

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