Art Mogul: Marla Wasser, President of Pursuits


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Exploring the intersection of culture and art through the lens of luxury jewellery brand, Carrera y Carrera.

Written by Jordana Colomby
Photography by Francisco Gracia
On Marla: Ruedo Collection De Luces pendant and earrings; Bestiary Collection Tiger ring.

In the late 1970’s, Manuel Carrera, great-grandson of Carrera y Carrera founder Saturio Esteban Carrera, created an internationally recognized style for the brand. The focus would be inspired by sculpture, represented through sizable, artistic pieces that would eventually become the pinnacle of jewellery making and craftsmanship. For Carrera, the world was art, and jewellery was the world. Wearing a Carrera y Carrera piece was, and continues to be, a direct translation of his ethos.

By the same token, Marla Wasser, founder and Chief Creative Officer of Pursuits Inc., an art-consulting company based out of Toronto, believes art offers a unique perspective that reflects our culture’s many important conversations.

Collecting art is about more than just décor, it’s about stepping into an artist’s world and exploring their history, passion, and journey. Wasser has always been passionate about all forms of art, but it wasn’t until she started making personal connections with artists, galleries, dealers and collectors that she realized it could be a career. After 30 years of experience in collecting, Wasser took a leap of faith and started her own business.

The most precious thing about art, Wasser says, are the endless ways in which it can be interpreted; the way a piece catches one’s eye, while the meaning behind it remains a mystery. “It allows for a collector like me to start my own artistic journey,” she says.

Part of Wasser’s personal artistic journey includes the marriage of art and fashion. “With art being such a natural progression as part of our history, it only makes sense that designers are going to incorporate art in their fabrications, construction, and collections.” Art and fashion are all around us. Think: the 2017-2018 Dior exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum or Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination-themed MET Gala. “Jewellery is incredibly personal, like fashion it becomes an extension of your persona when you wear it. I am drawn to the beautiful way Carrera y Carrera is able to translate art and nature into their original collections. Staying true to the purity of their history and brand, their jewellery embodies passion, creativity, and originality — everything I value in a work of art, to wear and to admire.” 

Art also sparks conversation about real-world issues. Some of Wasser’s recent favourites include Ai Wei Wei’s documentary, Human Flow, which brings light to the current global refugee crisis, and Douglas Coupland’s Tsunami exhibition in Toronto, where he created pieces out of debris that’d washed up on Canadian shorelines after the devastating 2011 Tsunami in Japan. “I believe art is one of the few places left in the world that maintains a level of purity and truth that is incredibly rewarding, enriching and stimulating,” Wasser explains.

When she launched Pursuits in 2007, her goal was to bring international artists to Canadian clientele. She started researching international galleries to see what kind of relationships they had within Canada, but was shocked to find they had none. Wasser believed global connections would enhance the Canadian art scene, so she decided to do it herself. “Through the artist’s lens, we can be connected to people around the world to hear and understand their stories,” Wasser says.