Illustration of Roger Perry-Stovall
Illustration: Joel Kimmel
Roger Perry-Stovall ’03

From Academic Dean to Artistic Visionary

by Kristin Baird Rattini
Roger Perry-Stovall ’03 had established himself as an associate dean of academic support and precollege programming at Berkeley College in the New York City area. Although his background was in math, engineering and computer science, he quit his job in 2013 and embarked on a more artistic and innovative path, one that leads to the planned December debut of his Immersive Art Space in Las Vegas. Perry-Stovall talks about his career pivot and his new twist on the immersive art concept.

Q. What made you leave academia behind?

I always had an entrepreneurial and creative itch that I just wasn’t able to fully scratch through my work in academia. Looking at my career trajectory 10 to 20 years out, I had the sense I would eventually regret not addressing it.

Q. It wasn’t a direct line from academia to Immersive Art Space. What else did you explore, and how did that prepare you for what you’re doing now?

My experience at INCubate NYC, sponsored by Google, set up the roller coaster of a ride between academia and Immersive Art Space. I won an award there for an on-demand art concept — printing an image of a customer’s choice onto any object. I expanded that idea to home-decor items — vases, coffee tables, etc. — that I sold at national conventions, including Art Basel Miami Beach. I also bartended at the largest Las Vegas pool party, worked in festival production across the country, set up as a vendor within Las Vegas Strip venues and started Professional & Reliable Bartending, a private event-staffing company.

Q: What will the Immersive Art Space look like?

The format will be similar to IKEA’s, in that the space will be broken up into multiple rooms with each vignette leading, in a fun, interactive and interesting way, to the next in a journey of the human experience. Large-scale multimedia artwork, with integrated sound, lighting and visual effects, will consume each room and feature such themes as dreams, human connection and the elements — earth, air/wind, fire and water.

Q. You majored in mathematics and electrical engineering at Bucknell. How are you drawing on that training in your new creative endeavor?

The direct correlation to those scientific subjects is the integration of technology, technical detail, and critical and design thinking. I know this may be hard to believe, but there is one social component I am very excited to integrate into Immersive Art Space that actually stems directly from a mathematical theory.

Q. You chose Kickstarter to fund your campaign. How did it go?

Very well. Achieving what is among the highest- earning campaigns in the art-installation category, easily surpassing its $100,000 goal, was an unexpected but incredibly pleasant surprise.

Q. Tell us about the educational components you’ve incorporated into this endeavor.

This career pivot has taught me how important creativity and education are to my sense of fulfillment and well-being. I have four interns from local colleges — all from diverse backgrounds — who have worked in support of the crowdfunding campaign. I also intend to use the space to host professional-development workshops and perhaps educational art experiences for kids.

Q. What have been your greatest challenges and triumphs in making this career pivot?

Entrepreneurship, particularly solopreneurship, can be a very lonely and challenging journey. My greatest triumphs — and challenges as well — have been creating revenue-generating businesses, developing and maintaining a positive mindset, managing faith and fear throughout the process, and ultimately staying the course through difficult times.