SFAI Appoints New Executive Director

Editor | - May 1, 2013

'...a dynamic leader whose experience as an artist, arts educator, administrator and collaborator is a unique fit for the Santa Fe Art Institute'

The Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI) Board of Trustees announced today the appointment of Sanjit Sethi as executive director, effective August 1, 2013.

Sethi joins the SFAI from the California College of the Arts in Oakland, California, where he is the Barclay Simpson Chair and assistant professor of Community Arts, and director of the Center for Art and Public Life. He served as directof of the MFA program at Memphis College of Art from 2004 to 2008. He has taught at numerous institutions including M.I.T.'s Visual Arts Program, the Art Institute of Chicago and Srishti School of Art, Design, and Technology in Bangalore, India. He is also a practicing artist with a background in sculpture, ceramics and advanced visual studies and has worked on projects in Canada, Ireland, Hungary, the U.K., India and the U.S.

As director of the Center for Art and Public Life, Sethi's accomplishments were many and varied. He revitalized and initiated programs to better reflect the creativity and values integral to California College of the Arts' mission and history. He created the innovative ENGAGE at CCA program and the IMPACT Social Entrepreneurship Awards. He led the expansion of CCA CONNECTS which places undergraduate and graduate students in schools, arts and cultural organizations and community groups, and created important partnerships with numerous organizations in the San Francisco Bay area. His strong commitment to community engagement has been widely recognized, as has his advocacy of diversity in the college and the larger arts community.

"Sanjit Sethi is a dynamic leader whose experience as an artist, arts educator, administrator and collaborator is a unique fit for the Santa Fe Art Institute," said Richard Martinez, president of the Board of Trustees. "His commitment to innovation with an interdisciplinary focus and diverse global perspective is at the vanguard of creative problem solving in community. He offers us an exciting opportunity to build on our organization's mission to promote art as a positive social force."

Sethi's own artistic practice has resulted in several collaborative projects including Kuni Wada Bakery Remembrance, a memorial to Japanese families in Memphis, who were confined to their homes or put in jail after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor; Urban Defibrillator, a project to encourage discourse on the relationship of the human body to the body of a community; Gypsy Bridge, a proposal for a nomadic bridge on the banks of a city in Europe to commemorate the cultural contributions of the Roma and Gypsy communities; and Richmond Voting Stories, a community-based project examining the often-overlooked yet essential civic activity of voting through a collection of interviews held between local high school students and older members of the Richmond, California A community.

Sethi holds a Master's Degree of Science in Advanced Visual Studies from M.I.T., an MFA from University of Georgia, Lamar Dodd School of Art and a BFA from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. In 2004, he was granted a Fulbright Fellowship, and traveled to India to work on the Building Nomads Project.  In 2006, he was awarded an Enrichment Travel Fellowship to travel to London, Budapest and Dublin to work on the Gypsy Bridge Project. His list of panels, publications,and presentations is extensive and includes a diversity of national and international engagements.

Sethi says of his appointment, "I'm honored to join the Santa Fe Art Institute community. SFAI is incredibly well positioned to address issues around creativity, artistic production and community engagement. Working with such an innovative institution allows me to continue to partner with organizations, cultural practitioners and a larger community to address critical issues that exist around us. I am eager to build on the successes of SFAI and cultivate generative conversations, projects and initiatives that have a local, national and international impact."

You can learn more about Sanjit Sethi at his website,

From a Santa Fe Art Institute press release...