NiLu Peoplez: Brooke Finister

Our friend Brooke is from Northern California and now lives in NYC getting her Master’s in Fine Art at Columbia. This will give her the option to work in a lot of areas like journalism and research. Brooke says she really wants to eventually work in the art market though - buying art for rich people on their dime!

Where were you born and raised?  
I was born and raised in Northern California and spent a lot of my childhood traveling around the Bay Area and Central Valley- I proudly have a 209 area code.
What does it mean to get an MFA?
A Master's in fine art means that you are beyond instructional classes. The Bachelor’s says that you specialize in printmaking, painting, sculpture, a craft, and so on and have the authority to use the medium to create a body of work that is your style….you have technique. Your Master's is when you have your extensive exhibition that features your style or practice, art material, and a focus that thematically connects each piece to one concept. You learn to argue your work is fine art through your time in formal education. 
What Masters Program are you in at Columbia?
My program, MODA: Modern Art, curatorial and critical studies, is the theoretical application of art. How we talk about art and the vocabulary, assemble projects for exhibitions in a gallery, or write about it in a book. I’m in a MA or master's in the arts, and it sets me up for journalism, curating, research, or art market things such as auction houses (Christie's or Sotheby's being examples). I can also receive my Doctorate and teach at the College level, stay tuned on that because I would also love to buy art for rich people on their dime.
What are your young milestone accomplishments? (school play, sports, art, etc.)
I did my church play, played soccer, softball, volleyball, basketball, swimming, crew, martial arts…learned the alto saxophone and picked up the baritone later. Joined a California ambassadorship to aid in student support systems across the state.
How did art or creativity play into your life?
My dad was an artistic parent. He was in floorcovering and did a lot of DIY construction projects when we weren’t dancing, rollerskating, and creating music. So, as you can imagine, I had the support I needed to take up art in high school- at the expense of my other classes, if you ask my mom. But, I found my footing in the investigative work, which translated to a Bachelor’s in art history and a minor in journalism, and now my grad program at Columbia University of the City of New York.
Why did you move to NYC?
Since I was about 12, I set my sights on New York. The fashion and art scene alone was fascinating. Still, now, in a post-covid world, I wanted to have my education go hand in hand with the conferences, panels, and gallery openings I am reading about in all of my art subscriptions services I follow in NYC. 
What is your most treasured possession?
My mom made a quilt of my father's clothes; the team shirts of sports I played on while he coached me in softball, soccer, swimming, and shirts I just have as memories in church or going out on vacations as a family. It’s the blanket that sits on my bed and never gets used, marking the fifth anniversary of my father passing away from pancreatic cancer in 2015 during my senior year of High school. My three siblings and I each have specially curated ones that feature our sports teams or the aspects of our personalities. Thanks, mom, it’s the best gift I’ve gotten. (This answer shouldn’t be touched, or shortened.)
What would your superpower be?
To read books by just touching them, my library has been both in NYC and California since I moved here in August.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
An artist, actress, florist, playwright, director, and then I found art history and have been working in several aspects of museum work since but curating is the goal, and art handling was the most fun.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
My three or so months working at a cafe. Never had food, music was loud, the drama around every corner with people in charge, it was wild. But, the coffee was delicious, and the food was good when we had it in stock.
How do you self-care?
I walk through art galleries with my music on shuffle, and I turn my brain off. When I’m not in school, at dinner with friends, traveling, live music, theater, or fairs I’m probably in a gallery just existing.
What good trouble have you got into so far in NYC?
I have so many people to have coffee with and not enough time or social energy on my calendar to make the time. A ton of side projects and hustles have come from saying hi to people, and I’m wondering when I’ll get to it. The summer should be exciting, though!
Isley Brothers or Earth Wind and Fire?
Earth wind and fire, but because I recognize the name, I googled the Isley Brothers to see if I knew them…and I do; my dad sang their songs all the time. My music index starts with Motown and Soul train but please don't ever ask me to list the artists or songs. I know lyrics and dances exclusively, probably have roller-skated to most.
Favorite Artist Black or other?
Jennifer Packer is an artist I'd collect work from someday. She's an oil painter and friends with another great artist, Jordan Casteel. Both work in portraiture and use their platform as artists to highlight black life and vulnerability in their separate ways.
In one word…..New York is


We’re glad we found Brooke and get to work with her now at Nilu. Her future is bright.

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