One of the most important aspects of the GFAA program is the connection within the art community. As we continuously strive to develop close ties around the globe, we dedicate much of our time to research and communicate with prospective, current and past Nominees.
We are enthusiastic about forging partnerships with other organizations who share our mission, vision and values. If you are interested in learning more, please email Matt Blong, Committee Chair
GFAA Museum and Gallery Relations Committee
Matthew Blong, Global Chair
Carolyn Cruz, Europe
Renee Farina, Latin America and Europe
Patricia Lannes, Latin America
Cornelia Lauf, Europe and North America
Ekaterina Luki, Europe
Salwa Mikdadi, Middle East
Deborah Najar, Middle East and Europe
Marta Nowakowski, Europe
Stefano Rabolli Pansera, Europe and Africa
Matthew Blong, GFAA Museum and Gallery Relations Chair
Matthew Blong, a native of Washington, D.C., is an international businessman and former diplomat who currently resides between New York and Marco Island, Florida. Having originally trained as a fine arts photographer and photojournalist, he subsequently spent more than a decade working abroad, first as a Foreign Service Officer with the United States Department of State in Central Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and later for several large multinational corporations. Throughout his travels to over 100 countries, Mr. Blong has cultivated his strong passion for the arts.
Mr. Blong is a 2018 graduate of the Master of Arts in Contemporary Art program at Sotheby’s Institute of Art – New York and was the commencement speaker of his class. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from Yale University and a Master of Business Administration from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Phoenix, Arizona. Among the foreign languages he speaks are Russian, French, German, Latvian and Arabic.
Carolyn Cruz, Europe
Carolyn Cruz is an integrated marketing professional with over 20 years of experience managing global corporate brands for industry leaders including Gap, Apple, Bank of America and Sun Microsystems.
Her background in advertising and brand marketing includes both client and agency-side roles. She has extensive expertise in developing and producing national and global on-line and print advertising campaigns, in store materials, as well as managing global events. Carolyn has much experience managing both creative and media agencies.
Her career has taken her from San Francisco to NYC, and she now lives in London where she pursues her passion of arts and culture.
Carolyn speaks Spanish fluently and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Communication Studies and Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Renee Farina holds a Master’s degree in History of Art and History of the Art Market; Modern and Contemporary Art from Christie’s.
She received her BA in History of Art focusing on Roman History and Italian Medieval and Renaissance Art from Indiana University, Bloomington. Ms. Farina presented her Thesis on Botticelli’s Mystic Nativity and competed for an academic scholarship (Menz Award).
In Christie’s Wine Department, she was involved in sales, warehouse inventory, photography for catalogues, phone bidding, and wine connoisseurship. She completed three major projects: South and Central American Market Research, International Price Analysis, Proposal for Sales. Ms. Farina also worked in Christie’s Old Masters Department, where she worked on cataloguing, condition reports, research, photography, catalogue essay writing and inventory.
She is trilingual: Italian, Spanish and English. While at Christie’s, she translated manuscripts, served as a translator with Italian and Spanish speaker clients, translated simultaneously during meetings, and assisted with multi-lingual phone calls during auctions.
Patricia Lannes has worked in the fields of visual literacy and museum education for over 20 years. She is the Founder and Project Director of CALTA21 (Cultures and Literacies through Art for the 21st Century), a model initiative funded by a National Leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. As Project Director, she leads all aspects of the initiative from conception to completion. CALTA21 invites adult immigrants and their families to use works of art and museums to break language barriers and build academic, social, and cultural capital.
Prior to her work as Project Director of CALTA21, she was Director of Education at the Nassau County Museum of Art, and worked as an independent consultant to museums, NY school districts, institutions of higher education, and private arts organizations.
A native of Uruguay, she is the Chairperson of the Latino Network, a professional interest committee of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).
Cornelia Lauf is an art historian and curator based in Rome, Italy. She earned her Ph.D. at Columbia University, and holds a B.A. from Oberlin College.
Throughout her career, Dr. Lauf has curated many exhibitions including Artist/Author, Contemporary Artist’s Books, (American Federation of Arts, New York), Konstantin Gricic (Casa di Goethe, Rome; Harvard University, Cambridge; Klassik Stiftung, Weimar) Wall to Wall: Carpets by Artists, (Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland); Indeed: Certificates of Authenticity (with Susan Hapgood).
Dr. Lauf was formerly the editor-in-chief at Imschoot, Uitgevers, in Belgium; she co-founded Three Star Books, Paris (2005-2015), and has produced many publications with contemporary artists. She has lectured at Centre Pompidou; Dia Center for the Arts; Getty Center for the Arts and Humanities; Tate; Museum of Modern Art; and Musei Civici, Venice, among others, and has taught at LUISS; IUAV, Venice, and is currently Visiting Professor at John Cabot University, Rome.
Her specialty is commissioned projects involving the artist, client, fabricators, and institution. For these projects, she has managed the production and installation of many unique, and often functional, works of art.
Originally from Odessa in the Ukraine, Ekaterina Luki currently resides in London, after living for many years in New York.
Ms. Luki studied Modern and Contemporary Art with Christies in London. She also studied Interior Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Mechnikov in Odessa.
She has a deep arts background with over fifteen years of experience of the global art market, as both program producer and curator where she creates independent projects working with artists and cultural organizations throughout Europe.
Salwa Mikdadi, Associate Professor, Practice of Art History, NYU Abu Dhabi, specializes in the history of modern and contemporary art of the Arab world. Prior to joining the NYUAD, Mikdadi worked at Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority where she established the professional development program for museum professionals including a customized executive program (2012 – 2014) and was a lecturer at the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi in the postgraduate program – History of Art and Museum Studies (2010-2014).
Mikdadi was the Executive Director of the Arts and Culture Program at the Emirates Foundation in Abu Dhabi (2009-2012). She wrote the reference guide on the history of the twentieth-century art of West Asia, North Africa and Egypt for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Timeline web pages and is the editor and co-editors of several publications on the subject. She conducted research in Jordan, the West Bank, UAE, Syria and Lebanon on the governance and management of museums and art institutions. Mikdadi curated several exhibitions including the first Palestinian collateral exhibition at the Venice Biennial in 2009.
She was the co-founder and director of the Cultural & Visual Arts Resource/ICWA, a non-for-profit organization dedicated to the study and exhibit of art of the Arab world in the United States (1988-2006). Mikdadi is a founding board member of the Association of Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab world, Iran and Turkey. She received her B.A. from the American University of Beirut; and M.A. from J. F. Kennedy University.
Deborah is the Founder of the JPNF (Jean-Paul Najar Foundation), a museum for Contemporary Art located in Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue. Among the first non-profits in the UAE, the JPNF came about as a partnership with Alserkal Avenue, from a desire to offer a diverse artistic experience, with strong emphasis on patronage, archives and western abstraction. Two years and eight exhibitions later, Deborah and her team pride themselves in curating a mixture of solo and group shows, publishing catalogues and hosting rich public programs for all audiences. Prior to this, she was the Middle East Representative for Bonhams, and the General Manager of De Beers Middle East. Deborah sits on the board of the Gstaad New Year’s Music Festival and heads up the Global Private Museum Network. She arrived in Dubai in 2004, is a graduate of the London School of Economics, and speaks four languages.
Marta Nowakowski was born in Poland and raised in Germany. She is an attorney at BMW, responsible for Trademarks, Design and Legal Issues related to Intellectual Property Law. Previously, Ms. Nowakowski worked for an international London-based law firm focused on Intellectual Property. She clerked in Berlin with several internships in public broadcasting, art law and publishing.
Passionate about art, she travels to many international locations to attend exhibitions, biennials and fairs. She loves Penguins and her first collected artwork, was a penguin photograph, by a Japanese artist. She is an active supporter of Munich-based artists, and a member of PIN Young Circle’s Collectors group.
A passionate fencer, in earlier years she was a Member of the German National Fencing Team. Ms. Nowakowski is fluent in five languages-German, Polish, English, French, Spanish.
Ms. Nowakowski completed her studies in Würzburg, Germany and Seville, Spain.
Stefano Rabolli Pansera, GFAA Executive Committee and Art Liaison Committee
Stefano Rabolli Pansera is an Italian architect and curator. He studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, graduating with Honours in 2005.
Mr. Rabolli Pansera is a Director at Hauser & Wirth in London.
After working at Herzog & de Meuron between 2005 and 2007, Rabolli Pansera returned to the Architectural Association to teach. He has lectured in Cagliari, Cambridge, Naples, Wuhan, Seoul, Rejkyavik and Madrid.
In 2010, Rabolli Pansera founded Beyond Entropy Ltd., a London-based not-for-profit company operating internationally at the threshold of art, architecture and geopolitics. In 2012 and 2013, he directed the Museum of Contemporary Art of Calasetta and initiated, designed and directed the Mangiabarche Gallery in Sardinia.
Beyond Entropy Africa produced “Ilha de Sao Jorge”, an itinerant video exhibition that has shown in Venice (Fondazione Giorgio Cini), Lisbon (Hangar), Milan (Hangar Bicocca) and London (ICA). It is also developing “From Hands to Mind”, a research on the new forms of Design in Portuguese speaking countries in Africa, commissioned by Experimenta in Lisbon and exhibited in XXI Triennale in Milan.
Alongside Paula Nascimento, Rabolli Pansera curated the first Angola Pavilion at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, and the Angola Pavilion at the 55th International Arts Exposition – La Biennale di Venezia, a project that won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation.
With Jonida Turani, Rabolli Pansera curated “Potential Monuments of Unrealized Futures”, the Albanian Pavilion at the 56th International Art Exposition – La Biennale di Venezia in 2014 and the Architectural Association in London in 2015.
An Aspen Junior Fellow since 2011, Rabolli Pansera is also an official member of The Council for the United States and Italy.