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AU News

South Carolina School of the Arts Alumna Seeking Career Fighting Art Theft

October 22, 2020
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Sydney Slacas, a 2017 graduate of the South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University, is pursuing a career fighting art and antiquities theft.

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Art has the ability to inspire nations, bridge divides and ignite passions in the hearts of others.

But for some, art is merely a valuable object to take for themselves. Fortunately, there are some who are passionate about protecting art from those who wish to steal it.

Sydney Slacas is a 2017 graduate of the South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University. She majored in painting and drawing and minored in art history, finding a passion for studying art law and antiquities theft.

“Growing up, my parents always used to tell me I would be a good attorney because I was so good at arguing with them,” Slacas said. “So law was always in the back of my mind, but I never took it seriously until I took A Survey of Non-Western Art Historywith Dr. Candace Livingston.”

Through Dr. Livingston’s class, Slacas learned about the prevalence of antiquities trafficking and art crime in non-western, developing countries. Just like that, her two interests—art and law—came together.

After graduating from Anderson University, she interned with the International Foundation for Art Research, where she learned case law surrounding art and antiquities. This prepared her for her time at Case Western Reserve University, where she is currently pursuing a dual degree in law and art history museum studies. Slacas says that this degree will set her up nicely for her future career.

“It would be awesome to work on the general counsel of a museum,” Slacas said. “But my ultimate dream is to be a member of the FBI Art Crime Team.”

As a part of the FBI Art Crime Team, Slacas would face art crimes and art thefts head-on, protecting cultural art and antiquities from around the world. Slacas says that this is incredibly important to her. Art theft goes beyond stealing a mere object.

“Art is integral to understanding each other as humans,” Slacas said. “It’s what unites us as people and cultures, and it’s how we relate to each other. So when somebody steals art, it’s not just taking a painting or an artifact. It’s robbing someone of something that is irreplaceable, their own identity.”

Slacas says that this belief was trained into her by Dr. Livingston and other professors in the Department of Art and Design. They not only taught her to be a better artist and academic, but a better person.

“They taught me that art is what happens when you combine your consciousness and your creativity and change the world with it,” Slacas said. “That’s why I believe it is worth protecting.”

(Sydney Slacas photograph courtesy of Will Crooks.)

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