Art Can Break Through Anesthetization, Says Molly Gochman

Molly Gochman is a new WDN member in New York.  She is originally from Texas, but married a New Yorker and lives there now.

Molly is an artist who wants her work to be accessible to everyone, so she works more with experiences than with objects, with the goal of getting people to ask questions and engage with ideas they do not normally engage with.

Often, this will happen while she is working on her installations, for example her Red Sand project.  The project is intended to bring contemporary slavery into the conversation.

As she (and other participants) put red sand into sidewalk cracks, people stop and ask what they are doing, which creates the opportunity to discuss with people the vulnerabilities that lead to people being trafficked, and allows them to ‘fall through the cracks.’

“I want people to feel things.  We are so anesthetized,” said Molly.  “At first, I thought of art as my guilty pleasure, but over time I found it to be more effective in getting people to ask questions and change their minds.  Art can spark curiosity, and allows the other person to start the discussion.”

Molly’s art is also more participatory.  The Red Sand project has a Twitter feed where people can post images of their work.  Another project was spurred by her interest in immigration issues, a project in Houston called Border: US/MX.

Her hope is that the work will bring attention to immigrant communities and start a conversation about discrimination.

“I want the site to be a place for community building and learning opportunities,” said Molly.  It is at the corner of Dennis and Caroline streets in Houston.

Molly did not know about philanthropy as a child.  Her father founded a company that was more successful than anyone in the family had anticipated.  He was a product of the Depression and disliked extravagance and even the idea of being wealthy, so the resources were not discussed much as Molly was growing up.

Molly has learned about philanthropy through her donor advised fund.  Her biggest philanthropic investment is in the Freedom Fund, which brings financial resources and strategic focus to the fight against modern day slavery.  She likes the collaboration between donors and the ongoing thoughtfulness about whether her ideas are being imposed inappropriately on other cultures.

For fun, Molly is a yoga enthusiast and loves to eat and entertain.  She says her husband is a great cook.  She also loves learning and cultural events.

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