The Joan Mitchell Foundation has named Toccarra A.H. Thomas as the new director of its Joan Mitchell Center, where she will oversee a robust artist residency program, develop public programming and community engagement, and manage day-to-day operations at the New Orleans institution. Thomas most previously served as inaugural general manager of Pioneer Works in Brooklyn and as inaugural managing director of SPACE, a nonprofit art organization in Portland, Maine.Veronique Le Melle has served as interim director since January.
“In concert with my own artistic practice, I have dedicated my career to elevating the practices of fellow creatives. Serving as the director of the Joan Mitchell Center is an incredible opportunity to continue to have a positive impact on the lives and work of the many talented artists that are currently and will yet become part of the Foundation’s community,” said Thomas, who holds an undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology from Smith College and a master’s in Media Studies from The New School. “Joan Mitchell’s vision to help support the generations of artists that have come after her is a powerful legacy to stand in, and I am honored to be a part of it.”
The Joan Mitchell Foundation, which celebrates the legacy of the namesake American abstract expressionist painter, created the center in 2015 to expand its dialogue with local artists and organizations in New Orleansin in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Complementing the foundation’s grant program, the center features artist studios, venues for public programming, and on-site housing for artist residents.
“Toccarra brings an incredible range of experience and knowledge to the Center. As a media and performance artist herself, she understands deeply the needs of today’s artist community and the impact that a residency can have on a creative practice,” said Kay Takeda, senior director of artist programs at the Joan Mitchell Foundation. “At the same time, as an arts administrator, she has the vision and leadership skills needed to ensure that that the Joan Mitchell Center residency program continues to thrive as a meaningful resource for artists.”