Amy Sadao | 2014 New Leadership Awardee

Appointed as Director in September 2012, Amy Sadao has increased the Institute of Contemporary Art at UPenn’s staffing, forged connections with institutions across the city, overseen the most ambitious exhibition ICA has ever presented (Jason Rhoades, Four Roads, 2013), and shepherded the launch of a totally reconceived website. She has also actively represented ICA across Philadelphia and beyond, jurying shows and delivering lectures at Moore College of Art, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), and elsewhere, and been an advocate for the arts in interviews with The Philadelphia InquirerThe Pennsylvania Gazette, and WXPN.

Before assuming the directorship of ICA, Sadao served for ten years as Executive Director of Visual AIDS in New York City. She greatly expanded that organization’s resources and public awareness of its mission, utilizing contemporary art to provoke dialogue about HIV/AIDS and supporting HIV-positive artists. She eliminated the organization’s deficit and established a cash reserve, quadrupled the budget, initiated the 23-year-old organization’s first strategic plan, and produced exhibitions, events, and arts commissions with a rotating array of writers, visual artists, performers, and curators. Under her tenure, Visual AIDS established an annual exhibition program in collaboration with La MaMa La Galleria; commissioned over 40 artist editions focused on HIV; produced “AIDS/Art/Work,” a conference combining international activists, academics, and artists; and distributed over $140,000 in grants to HIV-positive artists.

She has published catalogues and exhibition brochures including: Undetectable, curated by Nathan Lee with Rachel Cook (2012); ReMixed Messages, curated by John Chaich (2012); Mixed Messages, curated by John Chaich (2011); The Sword of Damocles, curated by Patrick O’Connell (2011); Untitled Resource Guide (2011); To Believe, curated by Jeffrey Walkowiak (2010); Tainted Love, curated by Steven Lam and Virginia Solomon (2009); You Make Me Feel [Mighty Real]: The Work of Robert Blanchon, curated by Sasha Archibald, Tania Duvergne, and Bethany Martin-Breen (2009); SIDE X SIDE, curated by Dean Daderko (2008); and Share Your Vision (2003). She is the co-editor of Robert Blanchon (2006), and she selected and interviewed the artists for Oakazine, V. 4 (2009). Sadao began her arts career as a curatorial intern at the Whitney Museum of American Art and then as gallery coordinator for the Downtown Arts Festival. She earned an MA in comparative ethnic studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art.

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