Casey is one of the few people, that gives me constant style envy. She wears combinations of colors, patterns, shapes and textures, that are so out there, that they give the word “eclectic” a whole new meaning and that with such grace and nonchalance, that every time I see her, I ask myself why I never mix a fringy, electric blue blanket coat with paisley harem pants and ankle boots.
She works as creative advisor - a person that helps you, your company or any public institution built an art collection or produce exhibitions or installations.
Casey and I met a little over 3 years ago, while working on a project together and it was quite obvious that she has a very keen and unique sense for aesthetic and design - plus I think she is somehow born with the curator gene, even though or maybe because, she didn’t grow up in a creative environment. From a very young age on, she was drawn to every possible way of artistic self expression. "I danced and sang all the time. I then got really into design and fashion. I looked to iconic female figures for creative inspiration, like Frida Kahlo and Björk. I would always pair crazy wardrobe pieces, take and display 'art directed' photographs all over and rearrange my room every day."
She was convinced, she would grow up to become some sort of a performer, but as she went through high school and college, she got more into languages, culture and history and realized, that her true passion wasn't expressing herself so much, but more the overall concept of communication, connection and expression in a cultural and historical context.
She studied art history in Florence and from there on out, spent a decade traveling the world, financing herself by working for international and cultural institutions in between. She got her Masters degree in Linguistics and taught English as well as electives like Cultural Studies and Latin Dance at university. A couple of U.S. State Fellowships took her to Latin America, where she - while in Colombia - became fascinated by artisan crafts. She started a label that designed art, fashion and utilitarian objects made by artisan groups. One thing led to another and before she knew it, she found herself sourcing materials, designs, and styles for big fashion clients and working with fine artists on new designs and concepts.
A job doing programming and public relations for the Cleveland Art Institute, that she calls "an incredible opportunity" brought her back to the US. "I learned about emerging mediums and artists, new technologies and discussions in art pedagogy, exhibition organization and design, and was working with established makers and museums all over the country. It was wonderful. But I was desperate to return to New York."
So when her consulting bid for a new gallery, looking for operational support, instead turned into an offer for being the director of - what was soon to become - Underline Gallery, she didn't think twice about it. Today, after the owner sold the gallery building and left the business, Casey still operates under the name Underline Projects.
It only now - during the research for this project - occurred to me that, most of her past life was a complete mystery to me and that we never talked much about her background before. Our conversations somehow always revolved around things, that felt more relevant to the here and now or the future, which then again is not at all surprising, because it is so indicative of her general outlook on life.
Continuously adding on to her vast cultural and experimental background, she has become a lifestyle curator and stylist. She cultivates and heightens her sensibility to elevate every single object, experience - or person for that matter - by teaming them up with their natural soul mates, placing them in their natural habitats and making them sing together - bringing out their true, beautiful and best selves.
She is already working on a next venture, that will add taste to the palette of sensual experiences she has been providing, but her dream, she says, is a totally new project: A home and a family.
What would you say were the biggest obstacles and challenges you had or have to overcome on your way?
Ah, many. My biggest challenge for a long time was getting out of my own way. I've found myself in many high-ranking positions and often questioned my qualifications or doubted my ability - like 'Am I going to get away with this?" But I realized those fears are irrational and the challenge is the exciting part and proving yourself through your work is so gratifying. More recently a big challenge has been cashflow, which I think happens to many small businesses, when they are starting out. I have been quite conservative, as I know the importance of fiscal responsibility through lessons from my first business. I want to do so many things right away, but there are resource restrictions to those 'big ideas' and I realize I have to get there slowly and steadily.
Is there anything you would say, you had to learn the hard way?
Not taking things personally. I am social. And sensitive at times. You build relationships with people and when things aren't realized or don't go as planned, it's disappointing. I think I took a few of those situations personally at the beginning. Now, I understand that it's the nature of doing business and I move on quickly to the next project. I never sever ties and continue to cultivate those 'unrealized' relationships for the present and the future. My colleagues and I still share stories about putting lots of time and energy into a deal and a relationship and it falling through. That shit happens - I'm totally guilty of being the offender of that plenty of times.
What do you consider most important in your life? What makes you happy?
A sense of self. I've worked on that forever and it's a daily ritual. Waking up in the morning and smiling. Feeling ok with your decisions. My boyfriend and our life together make me happy. He's creative, driven and fun. I admire him and we always remind each other that life is about taking chances and moving forward, but in the end it's all about right now. Being right here right now - taking deep breaths and laughing and, of course, loving.