Fogo Island Inn © Alex Fradkin © Alex Fradkin


Goethe-Institut New York

Rural areas around the globe are search­ing for ways to survive in a changing world. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the collapse of the 400-year-old cod fishing industry has threatened the economic and cultural viability of most rural commu­nities. Since 2008, Fogo Island Arts has been bringing international attention to the area by organizing residencies and projects involving leading artists, filmmak­ers, writers, musicians, curators, designers, and scholars working at the intersections of art, heritage, and social enterprise. Program founder Zita Cobb and Nicolaus Schafhausen, director of Kunsthalle Wien and a strategic advisor of Fogo Island Arts, talk with Andria Hickey, curator at New York City’s Public Art Fund, about the possibilities and challenges of art in rural communities.

Zita Cobb grew up on Fogo Island and went on to a career as a senior finance professional in the high technology industry. She was the chief financial officer of JDS Fitel and senior vice president of strategy for fiber optics manufacturer JDS Uniphase. In 2001, Cobb left the industry to pursue her personal goals and to dedicate her energies to philanthropic work. She founded the Shorefast Foundation, which operates Fogo Island Arts among other programs, and is now actively involved in projects to contribute to a resilient and vibrant future for Fogo Island and Change Islands.
Nicolaus Schafhausen has been the artistic director of Kunsthalle Wien since 2012. He previously served as director of Frankfurter Kunstverein and founding director of European Kunsthalle, as curator at the Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art (NIFCA) in Helsinki, and headed the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, from 2006 to 2012. Schafhausen was commissioned to curate the German Pavilion for the 52nd and the 53rd Venice Biennales. He lectures at the Higher Institute for Fine Arts in Ghent and is the author and editor of numerous publications on contemporary art. In his work with Fogo Island Arts, Schafhausen leads the vision of the artist residency program, engaging artists in dialogue on the role of contemporary art in creating alternative solutions for the revitalization of rural communities prone to emigration.
Andria Hickey has been curator at the Public Art Fund in New York since 2011, where she has organized exhibitions in the public realm. Prior to this she was a curator at Art in General, a non-profit gallery in Lower Manhattan. From 2007 to 2010, she was a curatorial fellow in the department of Visual Arts at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Hickey earned her MA in art history at Concordia University in Montreal, where she also served as a researcher for the university's national think tank, the New Rural Economy Project. She has worked in a number of cultural organizations in her hometown of St. John's, Newfoundland, and​ contributed a province-wide artist survey to aid in the development of Newfoundland's new ​cultural policy for the visual arts sector​. Hickey's group exhibition Image Objects is currently on view at City Hall Park in Downtown Manhattan until November 20.