Noelle Kadar ’02: Forging Her Own Unique Path

Noelle Kadar ’02 wants people to know there is much more to a career in the arts than being an artist. “I wish more young people knew there’s an entire business that supports creative industries,” she explained. “There’s a whole back end to the arts that is so relevant and important. The art world needs a lot of skills beyond knowing how to paint and draw.”

Although truly an artist in her own right, with a bachelor’s degree in the arts from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Kadar has forged a unique path working as an international director of art events and fairs and as a strategic consultant to clients in the profession.

It turns out that forging a unique path is Kadar’s forte. Raised in Morris County by “Jewish Buddhist hippies” (her own words), she attended Oak Knoll from grade 9 to 12. “We looked at other independent schools in the area, and, ironically, the values at Oak Knoll aligned with my parents better than any of the other technically secular schools or even religious Jewish schools in the area,” she explained.

Kadar’s parents were specialists in Eastern Medicine and founded the Acupuncture Center of New Jersey in 1987. “When I was in sixth or seventh grade, my father had a young woman come to him for some treatment,” said Kadar. “She was an Oak Knoll student, and my father was so impressed by her that he had me visit the school when I was still in middle school.”

Ultimately joining Oak Knoll for high school, Kadar found a community that welcomed her Jewish faith while immersing her in required religious classes, Catholic Social Teaching, and the Old and New Testaments.

“I’m grateful that I had those mandatory theology classes,” she related. “Whether you practice or not, it’s a language that’s helpful for you to be familiar with. I think it is actually one of the more valuable classes I had in terms of staying power.”

Kadar was also heartily encouraged in her pursue of the arts. When art teacher Will Cardell learned she was seeking that vocation, he persuaded her to enter a summer program at RISD to bolster her prospects.

“Mr. Cardell was hugely influential,” she related. “If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have known that there was a school like RISD for me to attend.”

At RISD, Kadar concentrated on fiber, textile, and weaving arts. In her senior year, she took a deep dive into studying complex woven structures.

“I pitched to the school that I take the six-week winter session and travel to India to study with master weavers there. And they agreed that I could go for some credits,” she said.

“Looking back, it seems kind of insane of me, but, you know, you make decisions,” she continued. “I was unchaperoned, but I was not unguided.” Kadar was connected to master jacquard weavers in the ancient city of Banaras (now Varanasi), famed for the beautiful motifs in Baranasi silk. A contact from a previous internship had connections to the country and set Kadar up with a place to stay. Thus, an almost two-decade journey through Indian fine art began.

Today, Kadar is herself interwoven into the fabric of the art world in India and internationally. She fell in love with the town of Jaipur, where she now resides with her husband and twin toddlers. Over the centuries, Jaipur has attracted skilled artisans, artists, and craftsmen from India and abroad who have made the city their home. Kadar enjoys that rich cultural scene and the close-knit artistic community.

Testament to her influence and respect among international artists, in 2018, she was recruited as Director of The Sculpture Park at Madhavendra Palace in Jaipur, where she served for two years. She currently runs a boutique consultancy that has assisted in planning art events and fairs in locations such as Delhi and Dubai.

Kadar acknowledges that she left Oak Knoll with many of the traits that would serve her so well as a globe-trotting art pioneer.

“Oak Knoll is the first time I stood out,” she related. “I was different, and I had to get used to that. I realized that it was totally okay. Oak Knoll gave me the confidence that I have seen very few young women come out of high school with. I left Oak Knoll super assured in who I was as a person. I felt intelligent, capable, and observant. I think that helped me get through college, and it has helped me as I made a home in India. At RISD, I learned skills, but at Oak Knoll, I learned confidence, and I don’t know if there’s anything more important than that.”