We met Mariana Salem when she was still working at El Museo del Barrio two years ago, managing their special events. She now does the same type of work for the New Museum where she is prepping for their Triennial, showcasing under-recognized artists from around the world, including artists from Mexico. She is most content and successful when combining her business savvy with her love for the arts. As a board member of the Lower Eastside Girls Club, she is an advocate for their cultural exchange program between New York City and San Cristobal, Chiapas. Each trip provides different learning objectives for the adolescent women, including photography, artisan traditions, and fair trade.
Place of Birth: Douglas, Arizona.
Parents: Mariano Salem and Patricia Salem Reyna. My dad grew up in Monterrey, while my mother is from Hermosillo, Sonora.
Occupation/Aspiration: Head of special events for the New Museum, continuing a career in arts & culture while promoting social change.
When did you move to NYC and why:
I moved here seven years ago after realizing a career in the corporate world wasn't for me. I wanted to be in an environment where I could be energized by everything around me, and to be stimulated by people that I would meet from all different walks of life.
Which neighborhood do you live in the city and why?
Lower East Side. The neighborhood has such a rich history and a really interesting cross-section of demographics. I’m close to many great music venues as well!
Name a New York moment:
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge during the snowstorm of 2010.
How do you keep it Mex in the City?
I have a photograph in my bedroom by a Mexican-American artist named Delilah Montoya that depicts numerous objects left behind from people crossing the Mexican/Arizona border. Every time I look at it I'm reminded of where I come from, and how fortunate I am to have established a life and career here in NYC.
What’s your drink of choice?
Cucumber margarita with mezcal.
Name your favorite brand.
Toms Shoes. It's social entrepreneurship at its finest.
Name your favorite past time:
Perusing outdoor markets, vintage stores, bookstores, and rock & roll karaoke.
Tell us your favorite Mexican expression.
"No hay mal que por bien no venga."
Describe a fun or interesting fact about you:
Most people think I have a Middle-Eastern background due to my last name, but in actuality my original last name is "Salerno." My great-grandfather changed it when he moved from Sicily to Mexico.