In 2014, Westport Arts Center Artistic Director, Helen Klisser During, created the Artists Collective of Westport, with 5 founding members: Nina Bentley, Miggs Burroughs, Duvian Montoya, Jahmane West and Tammy Winser. Together, they developed the Collective to provide a place for artists to come together and create their own community.
In some photos, they hold toasters to symbolize their "pop-up" exhibitions.
Helen Klisser During is an art advisor, curator, and photojournalist who has championed global art projects for over 25 years. She creates, documents and fosters cultural exchange to promote understanding and address issues of social justice. An art world insider, Helen nurtures relationships among individuals and institutions to create significant cultural initiatives.
She has curated hundreds of exhibitions which have been at the forefront of the contemporary art world, for example, exhibiting Christo’s ideas for The Gates project three years before it was realized in Central Park. She was instrumental in sourcing funding and co-producing the first international iteration of Joseph Michaels' immersive art installation "Voices for the Future," which lit up the United Nations General Assembly and Secretariat buildings in NYC ahead of the UN’s Climate Action Summit and global school strikes in September, 2019. Klisser During has organized notable exhibitions and supplemental programs to promote social justice including “A Night of Nurturing Nature” a discussion with Helen Clark and featured photographer Edward Burtynsky; “On the Wire Veiled Rebellion” a conversation with Helen Clark about Lynsey Addarios photos depicting Afghan women’s lives, “Hope in Haiti,” an exhibition of photographs taken by 50 children from the Carma Foundation Orphanage in Haiti; “Champions to End Malaria,” an exhibition for which she was awarded curatorial role at the United Nations; and “Malawi with Love," a collaborative exhibition with Save the Children.
In efforts equally close to her heart (and closer to her home), Klisser During is the artistic director and co-founder with Mary Himes of #UNLOAD: Arts Trigger a Conversation, a statewide initiative in Connecticut to promote conversation through arts and education, around the divisive issue of gun violence in America. She is a gubernatorial-appointed member of The Connecticut Arts Council, chair of the art acquisitions committee for Connecticut, and artistic director emeritus of Westport Arts Center. Klisser During is also recognized by KEA as a World Class New Zealander,
Helen is an award-winning photojournalist who has taken on assignments worldwide for The United Nations in Malawi and Rwanda; AmeriCares in El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua; and Carma Foundation in Haiti. She served as the still photographer for Gaylene Preston's 2016 film "My Year with Helen: The Helen Clark Documentary," and her photographs and photo essays have been published in a wide range of national and international publications.
Helen has contributed strongly to New Zealand athletics, as was noted by Terry McLean in his essay “They Do Come Back,” which first appeared in The New Zealand Herald in 1979 and was reprinted in the 1984 book “The Best of McLean.” Klisser During was on the New Zealand ski team in 1976 representing NZ in the European Cup circuit, training with the NZ ski team in Switzerland when she broke her back during a downhill race at 80 miles per hour and spent 14 weeks in hospital. Four years later, supposedly retired from the NZ ski team, she surprised everyone by racing in the National Championships and becoming runner up. In 1980 Helen was awarded Auckland University’s Sportswoman of the Year.
Recognized by KEA as a World Class New Zealander
Award-winning Photojournalist, Society of Professional Journalists