Dear Friends of the KMA,
By the time this edition of Canvas appears in your inbox, I’ll already be adjusting to my new status as the former executive director of the KMA. What an honor and privilege it’s been to be part of such a great organization! I’m looking forward to doing new things in retirement, but will dearly miss a job I love and the staff, volunteers, trustees, and extended KMA family who have come to mean so much to me.
I feel good about leaving knowing that the KMA is in such solid shape. The new, greatly expanded installation of Higher Ground that just opened represents a strong statement of the KMA’s mission and identity as an organization--deeply rooted in, but not confined to, East Tennessee--that resonates powerfully with our stakeholders and audiences. The growth and development of Higher Ground has contributed greatly to an ongoing community-wide effort to unearth stories that had been lost or buried. The KMA is today a more inclusive institution, in which more segments of our community can see themselves represented, but there’s still a long way to go. A broad base of donors, including generous and committed members like you, and auxiliary groups like the Guild, Art House, and Collectors Circle, will sustain and build on the KMA’s progress. It’s particularly exciting at this critical juncture in the KMA’s history to receive Ann & Steve Bailey’s transformational $3 million gift to endow the executive director’s position. The future looks bright indeed.
I also feel good about my successor. Steven Matijcio, who currently serves as director and chief curator at the Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston, begins his tenure as KMA executive director in early March. Stephen comes to the KMA with a wealth of curatorial and administrative experience and a solid track record of engagement with contemporary art and artists at a global level. Prior to coming to the Blaffer, Steven served as curator at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio (2013-2019) and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (2008-2013), and previously held positions in a number of important galleries and museums including the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg; Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto; Art Gallery of Ontario; and National Gallery of Canada. He holds a master’s degree from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, New York and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto. Steven is very much looking forward to coming to Knoxville with his wife Anita and new baby Maija Rose. I know you will welcome them warmly.
I want to thank each of you, if I haven’t been able to do so one-on-one, for your support, encouragement, and engagement over these many years. I have gotten a ton of credit and praise for what the KMA has achieved, but none of it would have happened without you. I am very grateful!
Have a wonderful New Year, and enjoy the great exhibitions, programs, and activities planned for this season at the KMA.