From Wall Street to Visual Art
Three heads—simple, generic profiles—stand 30 feet high and span 100 feet across the outer wall of the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv, the home of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. As they preside over Habima Square—Tel Aviv's answer to Lincoln Center—they seem to be waiting for a conversation to begin.
That is the hope of Sigal Bussel (MBA 2003), the artist behind the installation, who notes that Habima Square, one of Tel Aviv's most important public spaces, has an added significance as it faces the boulevard where protests over social and economic inequality began last year.
"The dialogue, or lack thereof, created among the heads points to a need for a conversation around the world today, a need for us to reach out to one another as nations, as humans," says Bussel. Her variations of the "everyperson" profile have been featured in several major museum exhibitions and more than a dozen public art installations around the world over the last decade.
From home bases in Tel Aviv and Los Angeles, Bussel creates the heads in materials that inspire her: steel, aluminum, plaster, or wood, dressed with nautical ropes or chains, hung beneath window screens or on top of old bed springs. Her work has been acclaimed as a new voice in modern art inspired by Cubism and the Bauhaus, and her pieces appear in both private and public collections worldwide.
It's not a bad start for the former investment banker who, while in her early 20s, was working at Goldman Sachs where a set of paintings she admired gave her the urge to paint. She began to explore painting, but remained in the business world. "After Goldman, I went to HBS, started a computer-accessories company, and helped with my family's fine wine-and-spirits business," Bussel says.
But in 2006, when a close friend died unexpectedly, Bussel had an epiphany. "His death made me realize that if I wanted to do something in life, this was the time to do it," she says. "I wanted to contribute to the betterment of society. I felt that I could make a difference through art, so that became my focus."
Bussel may have transitioned to the art world, but she's taken her formidable business skills and HBS experience with her, deploying them to orchestrate large-scale installations of her work in, for example, the Beijing World Art Museum and the National Gallery for Foreign Art in Bulgaria.
"My MBA experience equipped me with the skills to work in these different contexts and to manage the unexpected," she says. "And, wherever I am around the world, I feel support from the HBS community—from alumni who show up at my exhibitions, to professors who have guided me along the way. I feel I have an extended family and I am humbled and thankful for that support."
View a gallery of Bussel's artwork at http://www.sigalbussel.com/sigalbussel/Home_Pg_NS.html