Student Spotlight: Adriana Cordova C’21

Adriana Cordova C’21

What attracted you to Drew?

I was born in Indiana and my family moved to Texas when I was 8 years old.  I knew about Drew because my dad is an alum but when I first visited Drew, I loved that Drew was a small, tight-knit community where I wouldn’t be just a number.  I loved all the opportunities they offered, like the NYC Semesters and internships working in museums and galleries in NYC.

Did you know what you wanted to major in when you started at Drew?

During my first visit to Drew in high school I met with Art History Professor Dr. Kimberly Rhodes from the Art History Department and she helped me realize that I wanted to major in Art History.  I also knew I wanted to major or minor in Spanish because I’ve always had a big interest in focusing on Latin American culture.

What excites you about art history?

I come from a big science family where my parents are chemists and my brother is a bio-chemist but my parents have always promoted the arts.  We went to many art museums and they gave me art books growing up. When I took an art history class in high school, I really fell in love with studying art.  You can learn a lot about a person or a moment in history through a piece of art work. Once I started studying at Drew, I decided I wanted to do research on Latin American Modern and Contemporary art.  It’s something I relate to personally through my own culture but I also find that these artists portray powerful messages with their artwork.

 Have you done any internships?

I interned at the Elkon Gallery in New York City my sophomore year in fall of 2019. I would go into the gallery twice a week and I worked on a collective exhibition on Francoise Gilot’s artwork: “Francoise Gilot RED: Paintings from the 1950’s to the present”. My main project was preparing for the Exhibition Opening, prepping the artwork and sending out exhibition invitations.  I also worked on organizing the gallery’s art book library and had the opportunity to work with clients, helping the gallery director pull and show art work. There were only three of us working together, the owner, director and myself so it was a very interactive environment.  It was a great experience because I had an opportunity to work intimately with artwork in a small gallery setting.

In NYC before the opening of “Francoise Gilot RED: Paintings from the 1950’s to the present” at the Elkon Gallery.

 Do you have any mentors at Drew? 

The two most influential mentors are my advisors Art History Professor Dr. Kimberly Rhodes and Spanish Professor Dr. Raul Rosales. They have both pushed me to pursue what I’m interested in and guided me in the right direction.  Dr. Rhodes has been super supportive of me wanting to pursue research for grad school, specifically focused in Latin American Modern and Contemporary art.  She’s the one who inspired me to pursue a career in Art History and has recommended internships along the way and helped me determine which path to take for grad school.

Have you studied abroad? nycTRECs?

My sophomore year in the fall of 2019 I participated in the NY Semester on Contemporary Art, which was one of the most amazing experiences. Getting to go into the city and meet with artists and art professionals, gave me a better glimpse into what I want to do.  I hope to work in the industry in some form of art administration, so this gave me a better idea of what these professionals are doing on a day to day basis.

NY Semester on Contemporary Art – Fall 2019

Spring of 2020 I participated in a semester abroad in Barcelona through IES Abroad.  I was supposed to be there from January until the end of April, but because of Covid-19 my trip was shortened to 2 months. It was still a wonderful experience, as I had a chance to experience the art that I was interested in firsthand. I was also able to travel to Madrid where I went to El Prado and the Reina Sofia museums. One of my favorite memories was at the end of the trip when my Dad came to visit and helped me get back home.  We did a sightseeing tour and we took photos in front of iconic landmarks.  The city was empty at the time, so it was amazing to experience that architecture with less people.

In front of La Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, Spain


















At the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Girona, Spain outside of Barcelona with my dad.

How has your Latinx identity played a role in your life?

As a college student my Latinx heritage has become very important to me. I went to a high school that didn’t have very many Latinx identifying students, so I didn’t have a group of students that I could relate with. Coming to Drew, I found that group through ARIEL and I’ve had professors that have been super supportive of me pursuing my identity through my studies. I have a diverse background within the Latino community.  My father is Cuban and my mother is Costa Rican, and I have Spanish heritage from both sides.  I love having such a rich cultural background.  Having a group of people you can relate to through food and music is powerful and has brought me together with others in ARIEL, even if they are from other countries, because we share so many similar cultural aspects. My dad and I say that the best Cuban restaurants have the best croquetas. It’s a big staple. In our opinion the best Cuban food is this area is a restaurant called 1958 in Westfield, NJ.

What are a few highlights of Drew?  

My favorite memories have been with ARIEL.  I’ve made some of my best friends through this club. ARIEL strives to promote diversity and inclusion on campus. It is so true that it is a big “familia” and a great place to meet people whether you identify as Latinx or not. Two of my best friends, Maria Rosero, our President and Fernando Ochoa, our Events Coordinator, are amazing people I’ve met through ARIEL. My favorite event that we’ve held was the Fiesta Del Barrio we hosted in Tolley Brown Circle last Spring.  We ordered Latinx foods from different locally owned businesses, we played Latinx music and everyone came to take part and have a great time.

What advice would you give students who are just starting out?

It’s really important not to compare yourself to others.   When you want to follow your own path don’t compare yourself to others successes whether it’s family or peers.  Look at yourself and figure out what you want to do for yourself.

What issue in the world means the most to you?

I think it is really important to give Latin American artists more exposure in the industry. Unfortunately, Latin American Modern and Contemporary art is under researched and under published and it’s unfortunate because Latin American art is one of the most culturally rich genres, whether it’s indigenous art or Chicano art, etc.  As a Latina and as an art historian, I’m passionate about researching these artists and giving them the recognition that they deserve. I did my Senior Capstone in Art History on the Venezuelan collector Patricia Phelps de Cisneros. She’s a collector of Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art and is a big advocate for Latin American representation in the arts.

What are your career goals? Where do you hope to be in 5 years?

I’m currently applying to grad school for art history.  My plan is to get a Master’s and maybe a Ph.D. My ultimate goal is to work in arts administration in a museum or gallery, but I haven’t ruled out being an art history professor.  I’m excited to see what the future holds!

Any fun facts you would like to share?

  1. I am a big reader.  One of my recent favorites is Where the Crawdads Sing
  2. I enjoy doing Sudoku puzzles.
  3. I love sloths! I recently symbolically adopted a sloth at The Sloth Institute in Costa Rica called L’il Sebastian.

Emilio Cordova C’90 and Adriana Cordova C’21 in front of Mead Hall, Drew University

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