As a continuation of our ongoing series Women Working in the Arts, we are thrilled to share an exclusive interview with Laura Day Webb. One of her current positions is serving as the Content Manager for Friend of the Artist, whose volumes juried by art world insiders showcase the work of selected emerging artists from across the globe. In this insightful Q & A, you'll learn about both Laura's career path in the arts and her advice for navigating your own journey in this industry as well as what Friend of the Artist does and the opportunities the organization offers artists.

Image by Sasithon Photography

The definition of 'curator' has expanded far beyond what it once was. How would you define the role of a curator today?

The role of curator within the art world has certainly evolved beyond its traditional museum roots. However, at its core, I view a curator has someone who is an amalgamation of tastemaker and steward. Curators build frameworks and create cohesive themes; they are uniquely positioned to advocate for the artists they show and to enable dialogue with audiences. Art is an incredible tool for education and bridging gaps between different cultures and communities. Seeing people interact with the work and encounter artists they are not familiar with is one of the things I enjoy most about this role. 

Whether it is an artist seeking to organize exhibitions of their own work or of their peers, or an arts professional early in their career, the topic of how to become a curator is one that is of great interest to our audience. Can you talk about your journey as a curator thus far and how you got started?

My first foray into curating began during the pandemic through sheer happenstance. At the time I was about to begin my Masters in Art Business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art but had deferred a semester, due to COVID. Africa wasn’t getting the same news coverage as Europe or the US and there was a lot of need on the ground. I work with a nonprofit in Northern Kenya called Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and, we were approached by two British artists who were interested in shining a spotlight on the experiences of the community on the ground in the area. I saw an opportunity to expand on the concept to involve local artists and also talk about the community driven conservation ecosystem Lewa had created. I wanted the exhibition to focus on the fortitude of these individuals, as they adjusted to life without tourism, which is the key economic driver in the area. We had a team go out to interview, film, paint, and photograph these personal stories on the ground that were then exhibited alongside works by other Kenyan artists focused on similar themes. The message was an uplifting one and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the works then went to Lewa to support their community programs. 

From there, whilst in school, I continued to focus on showing non-Western artists with the aim of highlighting artists who historically have been overlooked and underrepresented, with a particular focus on African and female artists. Getting to speak with individual artists, learn about their process, and then have the opportunity to collaborate with them in this fashion is incredibly rewarding and I am always learning from the experience. Most recently, in May, I curated Visions of the Sea featuring an incredible group of contemporary Japanese artists, in honor of Mikimoto’s 130th anniversary at their flagship n New York.    

Speaking of curating, one of the reasons we connected was to highlight the upcoming
open call with Friend of the Artist! Can you tell us more about this exciting opportunity for artists and what it entails? Who are the jurors for this edition?

Our open call for Volume 18 of FOA is now live through July 30th. The volume will be sent out to over 40 galleries and art institutions and will also available for purchase at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. The featured artists will also have a written statement about their works, alongside a 4-page spread. Our jurors for this volume are Jonathan Hoyt, Partner and Director of Steve Turner Gallery, Mónica Ramírez-Montagut, Executive Director of the Parrish Art Museum, and Gemma Rolls-Bentley, Chief Curator at Avant Arte.

Besides producing juried volumes that showcase the work of top emerging artists from around the globe, what other projects fall within the scope of what Friend of the Artist does?

FOA also does studio visits with artists across the globe and events in local cities in the US. We document these happenings on our Instagram so our followers can enjoy these moments and the works, even if it is not in person. In addition, we regularly interview artists and other art world professionals and post the content on our social media and website. We are also exploring opportunities for future physical exhibitions featuring artists from various volumes.  

What is FOA's mission and what do you most enjoy about your role within the organization?

Our aim is to create a global community of artists and art worlders at large. Volume 16 which was just released, features 46 artists representing 12 countries: USA, UK, Canada, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Israel, China, Senegal, Hungary, Mexico, and South Korea. 

One of the most rewarding things about FOA is seeing our alumni’s success, as their careers continue to blossom and their work evolve. In the past six months, three of our alumni have shown with different galleries at High Line Nine Galleries in New York, where I am Director and getting to witness that firsthand is a wonderful thing.

What would be your one best piece of advice for building a career in the arts?

It is never too late to pursue what you love, nor does it have to be your sole focus. Many artists and others who work in this realm are multi-hyphenates and figuring out one’s career path can take time. The wide array of backgrounds and experiences represented within the art world are part of what makes it such a fascinating space to work in.

About Friend of the Artist

Friend of The Artist is dedicated to elevating the work of emerging artists from around the world. In our printed books, we invite jurors to help us select the top emerging artists who work in a variety of mediums. Each volume showcases the diversity of aesthetics and ideas that artists are exploring. The community we create is just as important as the book itself. By working with and interviewing artists and curators from around the world, we've forged an international community where ideas and ways of working are put on display and relationships are formed.


Laura Day Webb holds a Master's in Art Business from Sotheby's Institute of Art and is the Content Manager for Friend of the Artist, whose volumes juried by art world insiders showcase the work of selected emerging artists from across the globe. She is also Director of High Line Nine galleries in Chelsea, NY and the Development Officer for The Immigrant Artist Biennial, whose next iteration takes place in the fall of 2023 and focuses on immigrant and first-generation artists living and working in the US. Alongside her roles, Laura is an independent curator and art consultant whose practice focuses predominantly outside the Western canon on artists who have historically been overlooked and underrepresented. Recent shows include Visions of the Sea (May 2023, Mikimoto Flagship Store), celebrating Mikimoto’s 130th anniversary and showcasing works by Niyoko Ikuta, Yoshiro Kimura, Osamu Yokoyama, Masaaki Yonemoto, Yoko Togashi, and Takafumi Asakura, We Contain Multitudes (November 2022 - February 2023, NYC Culture Club & High Line Nine), featuring works by Jessica Atieno, Prudence Chimutuwah, Angèle Etoundi Essamba, Muna Malik, Zina Saro-Wiwa, Florence Wangui, and Beatrice Wanjiku, A-FIL-IATIONS (September 2022-October 2022, Montague Contemporary), acclaimed Cameroonian photographer Angèle Etoundi Essamba’s first solo exhibition in New York, and The Art of Resilience (September 2021, High Line Nine) featuring works by Elias Mung’ora, Paul Onditi, Pie Herring, Charlie V. Rose, Anyango Mpinga, Migwa Nthiga, Dennis Muraguri, and Joel Kioko. A portion of sales from The Art of Resilience went to UNESCO world heritage site, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy’s community driven conservation efforts in Northern Kenya.