Felicia Lee profiles Dietch Projects director, Nicola Vassel for the New York Times’s series on breaking into the arts:
“Even as a newbie, I knew the center couldn’t hold,” Ms. Vassell said in retrospect of the exuberant market. “I think I represent the future of contemporary art and the synthesis of so many worlds that include contemporary art, like fashion. We can try taking it into the wider reaches of our culture in general, making it more accessible.”
Still, Ms. Vassell said she was aware that the downturn had a grim side: sales will slow, prices will fall, jobs and galleries may vanish. She does not foresee herself going anywhere, she said, but believes she has options. She ticked off work in museums, as an art adviser, or for an arts lobbying group.
“I’ve never been in a recession market in this country before,” Ms. Vassell continued. “But I am from Jamaica, where the banks collapsed when there was a recession. So many things temper my reaction to what happens in this country. I am a survivor.” [ . . . ]
In her 10 years in the fashion world Ms. Vassell appeared in major women’s magazines, landed a contract with Cover Girl makeup and walked the runway for Calvin Klein. She made “a lot more money” than she does working for the gallery, Ms. Vassell said. But “I wanted to do more with my life,” she explained.
In 2002 she entered New York University to pursue a double major in art history and business. “I just had a passion for learning about art and business,” said Ms. Vassell, who is single, dates an artist and lives in a SoHo loft.
“Art was a synthesis of the things I loved,” she said. “I could write, I could sell, I could think, I could criticize.”
In 2004 she happened to run into Mr. Deitch at the Armory Show on the Hudson piers, which she was attending with fellow students. “I heard someone call his name,” Ms. Vassell recalled. ‘We had studied him in school.”
A Shaper of Talent for a Changing Art World (New York Times)