Students learn the value of investment art through a hands-on experience

By Kelly Montoya

Students learn the value of investment art through a hands-on experience

By Kelly Montoya
The Miami Herbert Business School announced that a student-led committee will commission artwork for a high-trafficked location within the school.

The walls located inside the lobby of the Aresty Graduate building at the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School are slated for a unique artsy makeover—one curated by a group of business savvy students—in the fall of 2020. 

The conversation about reimagining the look of the space started around the same time an anonymous donor approached John A. Quelch, dean of the business school, about making a gift of art to the school. 

“The donor had the idea of giving the gift in the form of an art piece to be commissioned for the Miami Herbert Business School,” explained Claudia Townsend, associate professor of marketing at the school. “The donor’s desire is to identify an investment piece with the hope its value will increase over time. At the same time, the piece should deliver a meaningful message that students and visitors to Miami Herbert Business School will enjoy.” 

Most importantly, the project is to serve as an “experiential education opportunity for a group of Miami Herbert Business School students to learn about the art world and art as an investment,” she said. 

With these goals in mind, Townsend was asked to lead the creation of the “MHBS Undergraduate Art Selection Committee” by inviting a select group of students in the business school with outstanding GPAs and an academic interest in art, architecture, or other related areas to identify an up-and-coming artist. 

As Townsend notes, the objective of the student committee is to select a local artist and help them achieve success and greater recognition through the installation. 

Michael Coleman, a sophomore majoring in real estate, is one of the seven students that make up the selection committee and is working diligently to ensure the installation leaves a lasting positive impact on visitors for years to come. 

“Through this process we hope to showcase Miami Business Herbert School on a bigger scale and really materialize our vision as a business school of the 21st century,” he said. “A school that cares about the planet, its people, and making cross-cultural and international connections to improve the lives of our communities. That is what business is all about. It’s more than just maximizing revenues and minimizing costs.” 

Coleman believes that art and aesthetics are critical to the value of a space. 

“The right art can make someone feel a connection to a place and, consequently, spur economic activity that leads to frequenting café visits, shopping at stores, meeting friends for lunch, and so on. So,” he added, “when students select a college, the same principals apply. They visit campuses and, often, go with their gut.” 

In making their selection, the idea is to highlight what speaks to them the most, he noted. “That is often how they will choose to spend the next four years of their lives,” said Coleman. “By committing to the improvement of the physical aesthetics of our campus, we hope even more students will want to make the University of Miami and Miami Business Herbert School their home.” 

Despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19, the group continues to move the project forward by meeting virtually on a weekly basis. So far, the students have made strides in identifying criteria for artist selection, disseminating a call to action for artists applications, and developing a list of themes for the artists to consider when designing their piece. 

Townsend said the students identified the themes of globalization/international unity, sustainability/environmentalism, work hard/play hard, and leadership/scholarship and provided a brief description of each. 

“They have been actively contacting media outlets, artist representatives, galleries, brokers, contacts within the University,” she added.   

“Once the students, along with the dean and the donor, have identified their top pick, the students will work with the donor to contact the artist and negotiate the specs of the project and the price. It is possible there may be an opportunity for students to have input in the design process as well,” Townsend said. 

Coleman is grateful for this one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience because it’s preparing him for what’s to come in his career once he graduates. 

“I have a dream of one day being a real estate developer and can undoubtedly see the skills learned through this project as being very much relevant to those needed in that field: long-term planning, strategic marketing, financing, and negotiation. I am so grateful to have been selected for this project,” he said. 

The student committee will accept artist applications until June 1. Entry is open to South Florida residents from Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties, along with University of Miami students. The selected artist should work remotely and be available to complete the project by August 2020 for installation at the Miami Herbert Business School. 

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