Common Ground

Smart Contracts Aren’t, and other legal issues in blockchain and art

Featuring Erika R. Knierim, Sarah C. Odenkirk, and Charlotte Kent


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Lawyers Erika R. Knierim and Sarah C. Odenkirk join Rail Editor-at-Large Charlotte Kent for a conversation. We conclude with a reading of poems by Matthea Harvey.

In this talk

If smart contracts aren’t contracts, what are they? Why can’t you insure an NFT? What are you selling and what do you own? Is copyright applicable? Beyond the financial hype swirling around NFTs and the crypto-markets, there are practical considerations that artists and collectors need to take into account as a part of their participation. Partner and co-head of Art, Law and Emerging Technology at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard, LLC Sarah Odenkirk and Founder and Principal of Nomic Consulting Erika Knierim share their insights into the often confusing blockchain landscape with Rail Editor-at-Large Charlotte Kent, PhD.

Erika R. Knierim

A portrait of Erika R. Knierim
Founder and Principal of Nomic Consulting, Erika R. Knierim is an attorney and finance professional with 13 years experience helping artists and institutional clients move into the 21st Century. As blockchain technology matures and NFT’s become a high-growth sector of the digital asset economy, she prepares clients for the opportunities this emerging technology provides and the complex challenges it presents. She helps individual, corporate, and institutional clients understand what NFTs are and how they work, develops a customized go-to-market strategy, and connects clients with specialized teams of legal, finance, and tax professionals to make sure clients are protecting themselves and their art.

Sarah C. Odenkirk

A portrait of Sarah Conley Odenkirk
Partner and Co-Head of Art Law and NFT Practice Group at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard, LLC, Sarah C. Odenkirk is based in the firm’s Beverly Hills office. She advises clients on matters pertaining to intellectual property, business transactions and strategic planning, navigating the art market, public art policy, and blockchain and NFT projects. From 2013-2017 Sarah was the Associate Director of the Sotheby’s Institute’s Art Business and Arts Management Masters Degree Programs at Claremont Graduate University, where she also taught Legal Foundations, Public Art, International Transactions, and Cultural Property and Restitution.

Charlotte Kent

Charlotte Kent
Associate professor of visual culture at Montclair State University Charlotte Kent, PhD, has a particular interest in historical frameworks for art practices, with a research focus on contemporary digital culture and the absurd. She writes for assorted magazines and various academic journals. She is an Editor-at-Large for the Brooklyn Rail.

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have Matthea Harvey reading.

Matthea Harvey

A photo of Matthea Harvey.
Writer Matthea Harvey is the author of five books of poetry—If the Tabloids are True What Are You?, Of Lamb (an illustrated erasure with images by Amy Jean Porter), Modern Life (a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a New York Times Notable Book), Sad Little Breathing Machine and Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form. She has also published two children’s books, Cecil the Pet Glacier, illustrated by Giselle Potter and The Little General and the Giant Snowflake, illustrated by Elizabeth Zechel. She teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence and lives in Brooklyn.

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.