Drawn to Art

Emily Hoerdemann ’08 hung one of 300 limited-edition prints of The Current by renowned performance artist Marina Abramović for display at Untitled, an art fair benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Marina Abramović Institute. Photo courtesy Emily Drori / Livet Reichard Company

August 15, 2014

By Clara Miles, MA '05

“It was a tiny little closet where we had the prints locked up. I was in the back, leaning down to look through prints, and I felt someone else in the room. When I stood up, it was Marina. She asked, ‘Can we just stand here quietly for a moment?’ I had this intimate moment with her, this profound performance artist. It was a highlight, interacting with her even without saying anything.” 

That “intimate moment” between Emily Hoerdemann ’08 and Marina Abramovic´, often described as the “grandmother of performance art” and one of Time’s 2014 “100 Most Influential People in the World,” occurred when Hoerdemann traveled to Miami for Untitled, the first art fair she worked. While there, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Marina Abramovic´ Institute unveiled a new joint fundraiser: the sale of a limited-edition photo print by Abramovic´. As holder of the key to the locked-up prints — 300 valued at $1,000 apiece — Hoerdemann delivered the correct edition to each buyer after locating it in that “tiny little closet.”

Meeting Abramovic´ was just one of many memorable moments from Hoerdemann’s time at Livet Reichard Company, an events planning firm that specializes in art-related projects involving benefit auctions. Having been hired as an assistant, she moved up quickly: “They realized I’m really good at organizing and I know my art, so I excelled. I became an auction manager within five months of starting.”

In January, Hoerdemann was promoted to a project director and registrar who coordinates auctions by working with galleries, soliciting donations from artists, speaking with buyers, and tracking everything that happens. The role not only brought her in contact with beautiful works of art and the people who create them but also opened the door to a new opportunity: She recently accepted a position as studio manager for the internationally renowned conceptual artist Roxy Paine, starting in June. However, the art world is nothing new to her.

While preparing for her first Storefront Art and Architecture benefit in 2013, Hoerdemann found herself emailing her favorite architect, Charles Renfro (center). A year later, the two worked together at the event: “He was helping push bids, and I was holding the work. It was another one of those moments, thinking, ‘Wow, this is the first art auction I did last year, and I’m here again running around with Charles Refro.’” Photo courtesy Julian Mackler / Storefront for Art and Architecture.

“I grew up in an artistic household,” she explained, adding her mother, Karen A. Pauli ’92, studied graphic design on the Hilltop. “After graduating, Mom taught graphic design for non-art majors at Bradley. Every day after school, I was dropped off on campus to spend time with her. I was given markers and other art tools to keep myself occupied.” Those activities led her in a direction she would follow for the rest of her life. 

“I don’t know how I would not be in art … some sort of art,” she said of her career path, which included earning her master’s degree at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York. “I think I was meant to be in the fine arts and surrounded by it.”

Fate definitely may have played a part when Hoerdemann made a direct connection between her Bradley Experience and her position at Livet Reichard. While working an auction at Guild Hall in East Hampton, New York, she corresponded with Cindy Sherman, one of her favorite photographers, who donated a piece to and attended the event. During their communications, Hoerdemann realized she wrote a paper on Sherman in her studio lighting class. “It was heartwarming to me that I was able to speak with her and remember all those years ago I wrote about her for school,” she remarked. “I had no idea I’d be casually emailing her one day.”

Although Hoerdemann graduated from Bradley with an art degree, she started as a music major, switching in her first semester. However, she didn’t give up music entirely. “I stayed in Jazz Ensemble,” she noted. “It was one of the most rewarding activities I was involved in at Bradley.” A saxophone player, she toured with the ensemble in Europe and played four solos on the group’s 2007 album, Swing Swing Swing.

Saying she truly enjoys working with nonprofits “because that’s where my heart is,” Hoerdemann one day would love a job with one of New York’s museums. Thankfully, she already has the opportunity to spend every day following her passion: “Being part of the art world is really important to me, not only being physically around artwork but also asking artists to donate, meeting them, viewing their works, and speaking about how they sold, as well as speaking with the buyers.