Queer|Art is pleased to announce curator and former Managing Director Travis Chamberlain as its new Executive Director. Chamberlain replaces Ira Sachs as the organization’s first full-time Executive Director. Sachs, an independent filmmaker who founded the non-profit in 2009, will become the organization’s Founding Director, and will also remain on as a member of its Board of Directors. Chamberlain assumes the role of Executive Director following more than two years of service as the organization’s Managing Director, during which time he has worked closely with Sachs to develop a vision for the organization’s future that will distinguish Queer|Art as the international leader in creative and professional development for LGBTQ+ artists.
Sachs, whose film FRANKIE (starring Isabelle Huppert) was recently purchased by Sony Classics for distribution in advance of its premiere at Cannes Film Festival, reflected on the shift in the organization’s leadership: “As the Board and I considered the years ahead, and in recognition of my own changing professional and personal responsibilities, we felt that it was important to acknowledge that I was no longer in position to responsibly fulfill the role of Executive Director as much as either the title, or the organization, deserves. It also has become evident to all of us that Travis, recently having completed his second year, has come fully into his own in terms of his capacities, leadership, and the vision he brings to Queer|Art as a whole.”
In his first two years working with Queer|Art, Chamberlain has overseen many important developments for the ten-year-old non-profit, including the opening of the organization’s first dedicated office, the expansion of its staff by more than half, the introduction of several new partnerships, and a marked deepening of its programs and services. His involvement in the expansion of the organization’s cornerstone program, Queer|Art|Mentorship, has placed particular emphasis on further engagement with the program’s extraordinary Alumni community of 180+ artists working in film, literature, performance, and visual art. This has included the development of the Queer|Art|Pride alumni showcase, now entering its third year this summer, and the After Mentorship series, a multidisciplinary public programming series that brings together Mentors and the alumni Fellows with whom they have worked previously to present their art in direct dialogue with each other for first time as peers. Chamberlain has also expanded the scope and scale of The Queer|Art|Mentorship Annual exhibition, which kicks off each fall with The Annual Party, Queer|Art’s biggest event of the year. In tandem with these and other programmatic developments, Chamberlain and Sachs have worked closely together to grow the organization’s board, build upon its exceptionally strong donor base, and expand and diversify its fundraising capacities in new directions. In point of fact, the organization was recently awarded its first NEA grant this spring.
Prior to his work at Queer|Art, Chamberlain had established over a decade of proven commitment to producing intergenerational collaborations that highlight queer culture, past and present. As the Associate Curator of Performance and Manager of Public Programs at the New Museum, and, previously to that, Artistic Director of Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, Chamberlain worked closely with local and international artists to produce performances, residencies, and exhibitions that reflect and reinforce a diverse and vibrant arts community. While at the New Museum, Chamberlain supported the work of significant queer artists such as Ishmael Houston-Jones, Dennis Cooper, Karen Finley, Julie Tolentino, Wu Tsang, Jennifer Monson, and others. That work, with its intergenerational focus, continues to compel his interest in the excavation of marginalized cultural histories and the advancement of emerging queer voices.
“I feel deeply connected to the principles of mentorship, tribute, and interdisciplinary exchange that guide Queer|Art’s programming," Chamberlain says. “The sense of community, cultural lineage, and creative and spiritual support Queer|Art provides to the artists it serves—emerging, established, retired, and no longer living—are needed now in a particularly urgent way. I look forward to continuing my work with Ira and our board to expand upon the success of Queer|Art’s current programming and to advance the organization’s profile in dynamic new directions."
Sachs concluded: “Queer|Art has come a long way since we began -- just a few months after Obama's first inauguration -- and I'm excited now to see how our impact will grow during this important transition, and in the year and years ahead.”