Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price announced June 21 the appointment of Amy Sadao as Daniel Dietrich II director of the Institute of Contemporary Art.
Sadao, who has served for 10 years as the executive director of the New York-based nonprofit organization Visual AIDS, decided to apply for the executive director position after former director Claudia Gould left to direct the Jewish Museum in New York.
“The ICA’s commitment to creating platforms for dialogue as proposed by artists speaks to my own long term engagement with contemporary art,” Sadao said. “It’s what I believe and what I’ve dedicated my career to.”
Price believes Sadao will be the ideal director.
“She has exactly the right combination of creative vision and the ability to implement that vision,” Price said. “She also has a compelling vision of the role of art in a research university, especially as a way to spark dialogue about critical social issues.”
Sadao will discontinue her post at Visual AIDS on Sept. 1 to become the ICA director. Visual AIDS, a contemporary visual arts organization, offers exhibitions, programs and events that circulate around HIV and AIDS.
According to Nelson Santos, associate director of Visual AIDS and colleague to Sadao, Sadao will be missed.
“She brought strong leadership that changed the organization and brought it to the forefront,” Santos said. “She will be hard to replace.”
Sadao’s accomplishments range from organizing exhibitions of contemporary artists and curators to building a board of directors and a team of more than 100 staff members, interns and volunteers to get Visual AIDS to where it is today.
“She transformed Visual AIDS, over 10 years, into one of the most thriving and dynamic organizations of its kind,” Price said. “This included not only hundreds of art exhibitions, symposia and events, but also building and leading an organization and taking the lead in generating productive conversations across academic, artistic and policy-oriented constituencies.”
Price added that “Penn is gaining someone who will be a leader not only at ICA but also across our campus and city. [Sadao] has the potential to bring contemporary art squarely into the center of campus life.”
According to English professor and Kelly Writers House Faculty Director Al FIlreis, a member of the hiring committee, Sadao understands the role of art at a research university. “She spoke eloquently about the importance of engaging students,” he said. “I hope [she] will achieve a fuller than ever integration with the lives of students and I hope she can help us — those who care about the arts — to put arts on the map at Penn.”
Filreis added that she will be successful at Penn due to her many years of experience with collaboration with different people due to the lack of a permanent location for Visual AIDS.
“I hope to expand innovative and open-ended programming by making dialogue the centerpiece of my tenor at ICA,” Sadao said. “It’s a good time for a change and I’m just looking forward to forging new collaborations with a wide range of diverse communities.”