The Board of Trustees of the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) has announced the election of four new members: KAWS (the artist Brian Donnelly), Dr. Sabiha Al Khemir, Jane A. Shallat, and Joanne Siegmund. The election took place at the December 10 meeting of the board and was announced by Elizabeth V. Warren, the museum’s board president. All four will serve as elective trustees.
“It gives me great pleasure to welcome to our board four notable individuals,” said Warren. “In addition to their wide-ranging and diverse interests, they each cherish the American Folk Art Museum and its mission. I know they will contribute to a lasting and successful future for the museum.”
Director Jason T. Busch commented, “As we approach the sixtieth anniversary of AFAM in 2021, I am looking forward to working with our new board members on the many exciting projects we have planned. Each of these individuals will bring a unique perspective to the museum as we continue to provide diverse audiences with greater exposure to self-taught art across time and place.”
KAWS gained notoriety for his advertising interventions and has since built a successful career with work that consistently shows his formal agility as an artist. Recent solo exhibitions include KAWS: COMPANIONSHIP IN THE AGE OF LONELINESS, The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia (2019); KAWS: HE EATS ALONE, Fire Station, Qatar Museums, Doha, Qatar (2019); and KAWS: ALONE AGAIN, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit, MI (2019). KAWS is a long-time collector of Outsider Art and has amassed a wide collection, including works by Martín Ramírez, Henry Darger, Joe Coleman, and William Edmondson. He earned a BFA from The School of Visual Arts. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, artist Julia Chiang, and their two daughters.
Dr. Sabiha Al Khemir
Dr. Sabiha Al Khemir is a professor, novelist, and artist. She has worked as a curator and consultant for a variety of institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Louvre. Dr. Al Khemir’s illustrations have been featured on multiple book covers and in publications throughout the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. She also has two published novels. Dr. Al Khemir received her PhD from London University and was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Tunis and an MA in Islamic Art and Archaeology from London University. Dr. Al Khemir lives in New York City.
Jane A. Shallat
Jane A. Shallat is an active philanthropist. Her generosity has been shared with a variety of organizations focused on the arts and Jewish causes. Over the course of her career, she has served on the board of the American Friends of Museums in Israel and the Heckscher Museum in Huntington, New York. She is a member of the acquisitions committee at The Jewish Museum. Originally from New York, Shallat attended the American School of Ballet and later danced at Jacob’s Pillow and the Cameri Theater of Tel Aviv. She earned her BA at Sarah Lawrence College and completed her MSW at Yeshiva University in Israel. Shallat splits her time between Huntington and Miami.
Joanne Siegmund is an attorney and was formerly an assistant district attorney at the New York County District Attorney’s Office. She and her late husband Frederick have a significant collection of mostly eighteenth and nineteenth century New England painted furniture, painted boxes, fireboards, weathervanes, portraits, landscape paintings, and Amish crib quilts. Siegmund has been an active member of AFAM’s Collections Committee and Education Committee, and has been a member of the museum since 1979. She received a BA at Smith College, an MA at New York University, and a JD at New York Law School. Siegmund lives in New York City.