There is something unmistakably exciting in the air when the leading regional art institution in the area announces a new leader. It marks a time for new beginnings and typically a new vision of what an art museum can be for its community. So when the Academy Art Museum released the news that Sarah Jesse had been appointed as its new Director, the Spy noticed a few clues.
The fact that Jesse has spent most of her career in art education might give you a hint of what the AAM trustees were thinking when they hired her. But when we talked to Sarah last Saturday as she and her family prepare the move from Orange County to the Eastern Shore, the institutional priority on access for all to art is a major driving force for her on the vision front.
The child of blue-collar parents in a very rural part of Michigan, Sarah’s decision to have a career in art demonstrates how a chance encounter with fine arts can open an entirely new world for a young person. After a high school aptitude test suggested she might consider a career as a curator as well as a class trip to the Detroit Institute of Art, she quickly took that option when deciding her major at Oberlin College.
What followed has been 17 years of experience with positions at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art; Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and most recently, the interim Director of the highly-regarded Orange County Museum of Art.
In between house hunting and preparing for a six-hour AAM live event where she would be meeting museum members throughout the day, Sarah sat down with us to talk about her background and the importance of access to the arts.
This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the Academy Art Museum please go here.