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Washington Project for the Arts Names Director

Good Insight is pleased to share that the Washington Project for the Arts’ Board of Directors announced the appointment of Travis Chamberlain as its next Director. Chamberlain—a curator and director with more than 20 years of experience in museum, non-profit, and for-profit contemporary arts spaces in New York City—will begin his new role on September 1, 2023, becoming the 12th Director of one of the most influential and impactful contemporary arts organizations in the region and the U.S.

Now in its 48th year, WPA is a trailblazer among the region’s contemporary art institutions, with a dedicated project space, bookstore, and gallery. WPA’s mission supports the development of experimental projects that build community through collaborations between artists and audiences, with an emphasis on dialogue and advocacy. Artists are invited to curate and organize all of WPA’s programming as an extension of their own intellectual research, and their resulting projects may assume a variety of forms including exhibitions, publications, performances, workshops, symposia, community dinners, and more.

“We feel very fortunate to welcome Travis Chamberlain as the next Director of Washington Project for the Arts,” said Board of Directors Co-Chairs Ashley Givens, Ph.D. and Jocelyn Sigue. “His decades-long commitment to community organizing through art and his extensive experience as a curator, producer, and institutional leader working at a local, national, and international level will be a tremendous asset to WPA and the greater region.”

Chamberlain assumes the role as WPA’s principal executive leader after five years as Executive Director at Queer|Art, a community-based nonprofit with a mission to connect and empower generations of LGBTQ+ artists throughout the nation. Prior to this position, Chamberlain spent ten years as a curator of performance at the New Museum in New York City.

“Washington Project for the Arts is an incubator for new art that is unrestrained by discipline and anchored by ideas that seek to inspire positive change in the world,” Chamberlain notes. “The fact that WPA is in DC, so close to the Capitol and all that comes with it, only makes the questions we ask and the answers we explore together all the more resonant for artists and communities everywhere. I am excited to join the staff and board in furthering their commitment to facilitating collaborations between audiences and artists. Through our work together, WPA will also become a catalyst for nurturing an exchange of ideas and resource sharing among creative communities on a more global level, with DC as the hub from which all WPA collaborations will flow.”

About Travis Chamberlin

Travis Chamberlin is an experienced curator and visual arts administrator, most recently serving as Executive Director of Queer|Art in New York City. In his previous capacities as the Associate Curator of Performance and Manager of Public Programs at the New Museum (2007–2017) and Artistic Director of Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn (2004–2007), Chamberlain worked closely with local and international artists to produce performances, residencies, and exhibitions that reflect a diverse and vibrant arts community. That work, with its interdisciplinary and intergenerational focus, closely informed his work at Queer|Art (2007–2023) and continues to compel his interest in community organizing through public engagement with artists and their creative process. As a curator and arts administrator, Chamberlain has coordinated partnerships and co–presentations with The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum, Stedelijk Museum, TrouwAmsterdam, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Public Theater, Performance Space 122, Movement Research, French Institute Alliance Française, The LGBT Center in New York City, and PEN America. He has organized residencies and exhibitions across various creative fields with a wide range of artists, including choreographers Ishmael Houston-Jones and Jack Ferver, author Dennis Cooper, performance artists Karen Finley and Julie Tolentino, visual artist Wu Tsang, and theater artists Tina Satter and Young Jean Lee, among many others.

About Washington Project for the Arts

WPA was founded in 1975 by the art impresario Alice Denney, organizer of the legendary NOW Festival in 1966. Over the past four decades, WPA has presented more than 500 exhibitions; 1,000 performances; 700 lectures, workshops, and symposia; 250 screenings; and 58 public art projects. Nearly every major visual artist in the District between 1975 and today has had some connection with WPA. Many have sat on WPA’s Board of Directors, including William Christenberry, Gene Davis, Sherman Fleming, Sam Gilliam, Martha Jackson-Jarvis, and Maida Withers. Walter Hopps, the legendary curator, was also a board member.

Today WPA is a platform for collaborative and experimental artist-organized projects, dialogue, and advocacy. Artists curate and organize all of our programming—as an extension of their own intellectual research. Their projects can take many forms, from conversational dinners, exhibitions, field trips, film screenings, grass-roots organizing meetings, and installations, to lectures, performances, podcasts, publications, symposia, workshops, and more.

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