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Celebrate diversity, with Olsen Gruin Gallery

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UNSW alumni based in New York came together to celebrate diversity, art and education at the Olsen Gruin Gallery. On Thursday 11 April, 80 UNSW graduates living and working in New York City gathered at the Olsen Gruin Art Gallery for a special alumni cocktail reception.

UNSW alumni based in New York came together to celebrate diversity, art and education at the Olsen Gruin Gallery.

On Thursday 11 April, 80 UNSW graduates living and working in New York City gathered at the Olsen Gruin Art Gallery for a special alumni cocktail reception.

The event was hosted by Tim Olsen (BEdArt’82), UNSW alumnus, premier contemporary Art Gallerist, co-founder of the Olsen Gruin and UNSW Foundation Board member. Mr Olsen thanked his fellow alumni for joining him to celebrate their connection through UNSW, and the university’s values around diversity and inclusivity.

“It’s a great pleasure to have you all here this evening. The university is certainly something that changed my life,” said the former student of the College of Fine Arts (now UNSW Art & Design). Speaking with the backdrop of his gallery, Mr Olsen discussed how his family considers art to be a window into another person’s life and experience, which he credited for his passion for diversity and showing humility.

“My mother told me, before she died, that one of the greatest acts of humility is to be interested in what other people think,” he said. “Art really is an adventure into how other people feel, see and experience their time here on earth.”

The evening was a great opportunity for alumni to reconnect with the university over cocktails and canapes, as well as network with fellow graduates based in New York and surrounds. Many art fans and professionals expressed excitement at the chance to mingle with Mr Olsen, while enjoying the vibrant new works of Indigenous Australian artists, Yaritji Young and Tjala Arts.

Mr Olsen explained that what inspired him most about studying Art Education at UNSW is the insight he gained from the diversity of his fellow students.

“I was sharing my experience with students from all around the world; there were some from South East Asia, the UK and even from South America, and we also had Indigenous students,” said Mr Olsen. “What really makes a university is the cross pollination of ideas, and particularly in a creative world where there are lots of creative differences, it really did inspire all of us.”

Co-hosting the event alongside Mr Olsen were Jon Paparsenos, UNSW Philanthropy Vice-President, and Jane Miller, Senior Director Alumni & Engagement, who shared some of the exciting developments taking place at UNSW, including work to drive more access to education through scholarship programs and new learning facilities. Mr Olsen also welcomed UNSW's US Foundation Board Directors in attendance, including Karl Chong, Josh Young, and Board Chair Charlie Grant.

“It’s our great pleasure to see so many of you here tonight, sharing your passion for UNSW and the education you’ve received,” said Ms Miller. “We are very proud of the achievements and the diversity of our 300,000 strong alumni community, and it is always wonderful to reconnect with our graduates overseas and learn of the impact they are having around the world.”

Mr Olsen encouraged those in attendance to reflect on their time at UNSW with gratitude, as he acknowledged the large number of intelligent and capable individuals who are not able to afford a university education.

“It’s important for me to give back to the university… to be involved in helping to raise money for scholarships, improve buildings or whatever it may be, to make a university education more accessible for those people,” he said. “It’s a great pleasure to have you here and see by your attendance that you have a passion and interest in doing what you can also in gratitude for the education you’ve had.”

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