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KAWS joins board of American Folk Art Museum

The contemporary artist is among four new trustees elected

KAWS is a long-time collector of Outsider art Portrait by Nils Mueller

The American Folk Art Museum in New York has elected four new trustees to its board: the contemporary artist KAWS (Brian Donnelly), Sabiha Al Khemir, Jane Shallat, and Joanne Siegmund. “In addition to their wide-ranging and diverse interests, they each cherish the American Folk Art Museum and its mission,” says the board’s president Elizabeth V. Warren. “I know they will contribute to a lasting and successful future for the museum.”

KAWS, known for his early cartoon influenced street art that has growing into a booming art practice of painting, sculpture and other media, is a long-time collector of Outsider art, a focus of the museum, and owns works by Martín Ramírez, Henry Darger, Joe Coleman, and William Edmondson. Although he did not grow up with art at home, “unless you count paintings of the woods”, he told us earlier this year, “collecting was ever present, if not conscious”.

Siegmund was formerly an assistant district attorney for New York City and with her late husband Frederick built a collection of 18th- and 19th-century New England painted furniture, decorative objects, paintings, and quilts. She has been an active member of the folk art museum’s collections and education committees, and has been a member since 1979.

Al Khemir is a professor, novelist, and artist, who has a Masters in Islamic Art and Archaeology and has worked as a curator and consultant for institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Louvre in Paris.

Shallat is a philanthropist who focuses her giving on the arts and Jewish causes, and she has served on the board of the American Friends of Museums in Israel and is a member of the acquisitions committee at The Jewish Museum in New York.

“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,” says the museums director Jason Busch.