Meet the Art Curator Behind NYC's Coolest Shows
Brittany Natale is the ultimate multi-tasker: she’s a curator, producer, consultant, writer, and researcher (oh, and did we mention that she’s also incredibly nice?). The New York native has been the creative genius behind exhibits inspired by Bernie Sanders, gender dynamics, and even teenage girls. Her 2016 show, “Teen Dream,” not only featured works from young women; it also provided a space for both artists and art-lovers to connect with each other. See how Brittany turned all her passions into a legit career—one that she’s redefining everyday!—below.
What were you like as a teen?
I grew up in Queens, NYC and was raised by my maternal grandmother. My father always had a substance abuse problem and my mother was out of the picture—something that has ultimately shaped me into who I am today. As a teenager I worked two jobs; during the summers I worked doubles. I was a cake decorator during the day at the local ice cream shop, then at 4 p.m., I’d change my clothes and run across the street to work my waitressing job until midnight.
I was never into drinking or smoking, so when I wasn’t working, I explored downtown or spent time at home watercoloring to Mazzy Star or The Cure. When I turned 19, I crossed the bridge and moved to Chelsea. I was always running around, always on the internet, and always trying to keep busy.
As an adult, what do you wish you could tell your teenage self now?
During my high school years I silently struggled a lot with anxiety and depression, even though I thought myself to be a generally "happy" person. I was on the cheerleading and dance team, did a ton of volunteer work and mentored younger students, yet no one knew that I cried everyday before and after school. I felt everything to the umpteenth power. I wish I could go back and tell myself that I was not, and still am not, the only one who feels this way. Also, feeling this much does not make you weak.
How exactly did you get to where you are now, professionally?
By taking on a ton of random work. I have interned at fashion PR houses, and worked retail, hospitality, in galleries, for production companies, as an extra on movie sets. I’ve also volunteered. Taking on a broad set of responsibilities in a range of different fields really helped me figure out what I enjoy.
As for curating, it actually started with an administrative internship at a gallery in Brooklyn. I had always wanted to curate shows but didn’t know how to go about it. One day the founder asked me if I wanted to put a group show together, and of course I said yes. The only caveat was that I had a little under three weeks, and every responsibility (from the art handling, to the installation, to the promotion) was mine. It definitely was an intimidating experience. This eventually grew into a full-time job, and I took on a lot of responsibilities beyond curating.
After another job as Director of Exhibitions at a different gallery, I now focus full-time on independent curating, writing and producing. I am innately curious and want to do a bit of everything (something that I figured out about myself at a young age). Writing is similar to curating in that it gives you an opportunity to really connect with people. I think that’s so important.
What's one thing you wish you had known then that you know now about having a career?
That career paths may not be linear and that careers may not be finite. When I was still in school, I kept thinking that after college everything would magically fall into place and I would be happy and content forever going forward. What I have learned is that there are tons of ebbs and flows, highs and lows, related to career and work in general. One day you may feel like you have it all figured out, and the next you feel like starting back at square one. It is definitely a learning process.