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Meet Our New Team Member: Brontë Mansfield

Brontë Mansfield.jpeg

At the start of the New Year, Brontë joined the DeGroot Fine Art team as a Project Assistant, focusing on marketing for new projects. Here’s how Brontë came to the art world and our company:

In 2010, Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei unveiled a new installation at Tate Modern in London. The installation, Kui Hua Zi, spread 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds over the floor of a single gallery. Each seed–every one of the hundred million–was shaped, fired, and painted by hand. It took over a thousand workers in a Chinese town more than two years to produce all of the seeds.

And there I was, 17 years old and standing in front of all of those seeds, the first time I set foot in an art museum. If I had scooped up a hundred of the porcelain seeds in my hands, I would have held more seeds than there were people in my hometown in rural Wisconsin. Another handful and that would probably be more than all of the people I had met in my life.

After years of cornfields and football, I did not know what to do with myself in a bustling foreign city. But then I found subways, coffee shops, bookstores, and–mostly importantly–all of the free art museums in the city. Even at seventeen, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life around art.

I returned to the states to go to college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a freshman, I was hired as an assistant to the Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Chazen Museum of Art. One of my first days at the museum, I was tasked with helping reframe a six-foot-long ink drawing by another famed Chinese artist, Xu Bing. I am proud to say that I didn't buckle under the high pressure and have been professionally handling art ever since.

During my time at University of Wisconsin-Madison, I specialized in Victorian art history and literature, writing my thesis on nineteenth-century paintings of mermaids and Darwinian theories of evolution–but also wrote for the school newspaper and worked as an editor at the campus magazine. In 2014, I was awarded a Beinecke Scholarship to study at the graduate school of my choice. I decided to leave academia and pursue journalism, to help share stories of art and culture to as many people as I could.

In 2017, I received my Masters in New Arts Journalism from School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). During graduate school, I worked in the school's Marketing & Communications department and was also asked to assistant teach a class on contemporary art history. Even though the art I knew best was made before the Titanic sank, I threw myself into the world of modern and contemporary art–and even started working as a studio manager for a Chicago-based artist.

During graduate school, I focused on audio production and storytelling. In addition to my work as a freelance audio producer, I have worked as a production & recording assistant for the Art Institute of Chicago and recently joined the faculty at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, teaching podcasting and video essays.

I am thrilled to be able to merge my background in both fine art and journalism in my new role as Project Assistant at DeGroot Fine Art. I look forward to sharing more stories from the world of art consulting with our clients and anyone interested in collecting, preserving, and supporting fine art.

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Art Collecting Culture

A few weeks ago I traveled to Amsterdam, the capital city of The Netherlands, to explore my heritage and a whole lot of art museums. When starting this company in 2016, I was put in a position to name our consulting firm rather quickly. After trying many options on for size, we landed on my surname which translates in Dutch to "The Great." Growing up I hoped it meant I was a decedent of royalty, but I've since learned it simply refers the stature of my ancestors. Either way, the name conveyed a sense of grandeur and was a perfect tribute to my grandmother who was herself an artist. 

After arriving at the airport I certainly found myself surrounded by those who are vertically advantaged, with a large part of the population over six feet tall. Equally great were the ways in which the Dutch lived; their iconic row houses are towering, skinny, and compact. At night I would peer into the windows as I walked along the canals and was struck by the consistent presence of original artwork on the walls. They even hung beautiful large-scale paintings in their houseboats!

Surely inspired by the multitudes of world-class art museums in their country, the line between historical and home blends seamlessly there. Many of the pieces hanging were contemporary, and it made me wonder why our culture doesn't make the leap as often. I am making a concerted effort to not only improve my own home by investing in work made by living artists but to also help others make their spaces "Great" in the finest sense of the word. DeGroot Fine Art strives to place superior, local artwork in offices, hotels, restaurants, and private collections alike.

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