Roxane Gay Named Chair of Performance Space New York’s Board of Directors –

Leaders on the boards of arts institutions tend to be deep-pocketed collectors and well-known philanthropists. But Performance Space New York, a beloved alternative space in the East Village, went in a different direction when it named bestselling author Roxane Gay as chair of its board of directors on Thursday.

Gay is an outspoken commentator who has addressed issues of identity and privilege. His collection of essays from 2014 bad feminist do it New York Times list of bestsellers, and his book 2017 Hunger: memory of (my) body was widely acclaimed.

Although Gay is not usually associated with the art world, she has recently made inroads as a collector. In one Artnet News interview last April, she revealed she had works by Mickalene Thomas, Jenny Holzer, Julie Mehretu, Kahlil Robert Irving and many more in her collections. “I started exploring and acquiring pieces,” she said. “And now it’s out of control.” For Art in AmericaGay also spoke with painter Jenny Saville about obesity and feminism.

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Gay was also involved with Performance Space for a while, serving on its board for a year and a half. She was first linked to the organization through his wife Debbie Millman, who is also a board member.

In a statement, Gay said that as chair of the board, she intended to “continue to support great experimental art”, ensuring that “a diversity of aesthetics is brought to PerformanceSpace”. Gay also said she’s committed to diversifying Performance Space’s supporters and “making sure we continue to make sure it’s not just the people with the money who can sit on the board. of directors and make decisions, because it does not reflect our current community”.

Jenny Schlenzka, executive art director of Performance Space New York, called Gay “someone who would rather make change than talk about change all the time.” Adding: “Her opinions are realistic and solid: she wants a more equitable and accessible culture and sees how we can participate in the creation of this culture”.

While appointing Gay to the top job is unconventional in most arts spaces, it’s not a wholly unusual move for Performance Space, which has a history of involving artists behind the scenes in an effort to to reconfigure what an artistic organization can look like. In 2020, Performance Space New York handed over the keys to a group of artists, allowing them full control of funding and programming.

Performance Space New York has also pushed to add more artists to its board. Nicole Eisenman, Jonathan González and Jackson Polys were among the artists who joined the board in 2020. Schlenzka said she ultimately wants at least 50% of Performance Space New York’s board to be artists .

Gay replaces Suzanne Geiss, who will serve as vice-president. After the transition, Geiss will continue to chair the Board Development Committee.