Elizabeth Glassman


Elizabeth Glassman

For her efforts to increase French appreciation for American art, Elizabeth Glassman, MBA ’89, was recently awarded the French Medal of Honor and named Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, an honor bestowed by the French government in recognition of “eminent artists and writers, and people who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world.”

With this recognition, Glassman, president and CEO of Terra Foundation for American Art, joins distinguished company. Other American recipients of the medal including jazz artist and composer Ornette Coleman, architect Richard Meier, and actors Robert Redford and Meryl Streep.

Glassman uses art as a way to raise the discussion about various aspects of other societies’ cultural traditions and practices.

“Terra is dedicated to showing how American artists are active around the world, and this sign of recognition is one that speaks to how much the French value our efforts,” Glassman said.

Glassman’s Work Fosters Appreciation of the Visual Arts

The Terra Foundation is “dedicated to fostering the exploration, understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States” and takes American art all over the globe.

“We look at art as an opportunity to create a dialogue,” Glassman said. “We use that as a jumping off point to reach audiences about the nature of their own national culture.”

Glassman considers the world as her perspective audience and does business globally. The foundation awarded about $45 million for roughly 450 exhibitions and scholarly programs in more than 30 countries since she began working there in 2001. Glassman has led the foundation to be the largest grant-making organization for American art in the world.

Her accomplishments in France include opening the Terra Foundation’s Paris Center, which is the first of its kind in Europe. The center’s Terra Foundation Library of American Art focuses on 19th and 20th century art and contains more than 9,000 English-language titles on painting, sculpture, graphic arts, photography and decorative arts. It is Europe’s only research library specifically dedicated to visual arts of the United States, and all materials are available online.

St. Thomas’ Multicultural Impact on Glassman

Glassman achieved her UST Master of Business Administration with a concentration in marketing and finance in 1989 while maintaining a full-time job as a partner at Glassman & Lorenzo Cultural Planners. She also was adjunct curator of the Menil Collection for eight years. Glassman chose to pursue her master’s at UST because she wanted to study in a diverse setting.

“After college, I returned to my home, the city I loved: Houston,” Glassman said. “I liked that St. Thomas had an international student body and several of my colleagues in class were in the workforce. The mix of people and disciplines was wonderful. The rich variety of students made classroom discussions invigorating.”

Glassman was influenced by former UST Assistant Professor of Marketing Marie Bergeron and said she still quotes her today.

“She was a fantastic teacher,” Glassman said. “The marketing part of business was one of my main interests, and the art world is a place where you need to think about your audience.”

Glassman’s next significant project with the foundation is the launch of the exhibit, “American Encounters: Genre Painting and Everyday Life,” the second installment of a four-year collaboration between the Louvre and Terra Foundation; it opened at the museum Jan. 23, 2013.

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