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May 2014

Local Seen:
Creative Power
Written By: 
Robin Howard
Photography By: 
Mac Kilduff

Tiffany Reed Silverman leads an artistic renaissance as director of The Citadel’s fledging fine arts program


T hough “art” and “The Citadel” have not often been said in the same sentence, Tiffany Reed Silverman is changing the conversation. In 2013, the Beaufort-born “military brat” became the director of The Citadel’s fine arts program—the first full-time fine arts faculty member in the school’s history. A former College of Charleston adjunct professor and Gibbes Museum director of education, she launched a fine arts minor, club, and website. Today, cadets are armed with cameras and paintbrushes, hooked on downtown art walks, and interning with cultural organizations around the city.

CM: How would you say art and the military are compatible?
TRS
: In any kind of leadership, you need to pay attention to the details, remain open to other perspectives, and be able to express intangible ideas. Art can serve as a teaching method for exploring all these goals. Also, an aesthetic pursuit rounds out the military experience to create what I call a “Renaissance cadet”—able with equal ease to handle a rifle and discuss a Picasso.

CM: How do cadets like the new offerings?
TRS:
  Once they get how intrinsic art is to their lives, they’re hooked. We offer art appreciation, music, film, painting, drawing, photography, creative writing, even drama classes—and they fill immediately. The cadets are curious and willing to try whatever I throw at them.

CM: What’s been your coolest experience as director of the fine arts program?
TRS:
  I love the “light bulb moment” —that transformative instant when a once-skeptical cadet gets how art is relevant to his or her own life. Eyes that are opened will never be closed again.

CM: You have three young boys at home. What does your family do for fun?
TRS: 
My house is covered with the family’s artwork, soccer gear, and wet beach towels! This summer we are going on a 10-state road trip as part of our quest to visit every state in the country. Our family also runs I Heart Hungry Kids, a nonprofit my sons started to empower kids to fight childhood hunger. We’ve raised nearly $15,000 and fed more than two thousand children in our first year.

CM: What's been your coolest experience as director of the fine arts program?
TRS: 
I love the “light bulb moment” —that transformative instant when a once-skeptical cadet gets how art is relevant to his or her own life. Eyes that are opened will never be closed again.   
 


Lives: James Island

Family: Husband Josh and sons Jackson, nine, and twins Gabriel and Riley, seven

Favorite food: “Charleston Receipts’ breakfast shrimp with my pimiento cheese grits”

Favorite artwork: “Anything by my sons or my cadets”

Education: Art history degrees from College of William & Mary in Virginia and Williams College in Massachusetts; current MFA candidate at SCAD

 




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