New director at Institute of American Indian Arts

SANTA FE, N.M. – The Institute of American Indian Arts Museum has announced the appointment of Patsy Phillips as director, effective Aug. 11.

Phillips, a member of the Cherokee Nation, joins IAIA from the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., where she spent more than eight years heading up the museum’s contemporary art initiative as director and developing a strategic plan which was launched earlier this year.

“I received a call from Robert Martin [president of IAIA] when I was in a transition phase at NMAI,” she said. “I was trying to figure out if I was going to implement the strategic plan I had worked so hard on, or if I wanted a new challenge. That was a major initiative that I undertook and completed for NMAI.”

Her first goal as museum director is to create and implement a strategic plan complementing the work she and her staff at NMAI put together. “The two institutions have a memorandum of understanding and it would be great if the team at NMAI and IAIA work together to advance the dialogue of contemporary Native arts. I would also very much like to see IAIA partner with other organizations that are working in that area as well.”

Phillips graduated in December 2007 with a Master of Arts degree in nonfiction writing from Johns Hopkins University and also holds a graduate certificate in museum administration from Harvard University. “I was asked to write an article about six years ago for NMAI, and I discovered there are a lot of American Indian women who make significant contributions to their communities and there are very few stories written about them. It has become an interest of mine,” she said.

Phillips said she likes to work collaboratively and hear what other people would like to see the IAIA museum accomplish. “There is so much that has not even been tapped in the area of contemporary Native arts. I am excited; it will be a good challenge.”

The IAIA Museum houses the National Collection of Contemporary Indian Arts, with more than 7,000 objects created by some of the best-known names in American Indian and Alaska Native fine arts. In addition to showcasing the work, the museum creates a living connection with indigenous artists and IAIA art students by providing hands-on experience in art and museum studies.

IAIA is active in promoting exhibitions, performances, lectures, demonstrations and residencies, which help empower creativity and leadership in Native arts. IAIA is the only museum in the United States solely devoted to exhibiting contemporary American Indian art forms.

“There is so much work we can do that will be really effective nationally at IAIA. There are a lot of individuals in the Santa Fe area and around the world that support the institution. I also believe some of our best artists are alumni from IAIA,” Phillips said.

For more information about the museum or IAIA, visit www.iaia.edu or call (505) 424-2351.