Amy Sadao

Amy Sadao, Daniel W. Dietrich, II Director: Appointed as Director in September 2012, Amy Sadao has increased ICA’s staffing and attendance, forged connections with institutions across the city, overseen ICA’s ambitious 50th Anniversary Season and recent presentations of Nicole Eisenman, Ruanne Abbas and Basel Abou-Rahme, Jayson Musson and Alex Da Corte, Moyra Davey, and Barbara Kasten and shepherded the launch of a reconceived website and new visual identity. She recently announced the largest gift in the museum’s history: a $10 million endowment extending the ICA’s curatorial research and exploration alongside artists. She is a respected contemporary art writer, juror and lecturer and has worked most recently with the Tacoma Museum of Art, Slought Foundation, Vox Populi, CAM St. Louis, Moore College of Art, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Leeway Foundation, and the Cambridge Art Association. Sadao advocates for art and culture’s essential role in civil society, and has been featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Pennsylvania Gazette, and on the BBC,, Channel 4, CBC, NY1, 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 arts editor for Oakazine, V. 4 (2009).

Sadao has been the recipient of several awards for her work notably the 2014 ArtTable New Leadership Award, named a Women in the Arts Leader by Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council, and knighted by the Imperial Court of New York, the city’s oldest drag house for her work as an AIDS and art activist. She serves on the board of directors of Denniston Hill, an artist residency program and is a Director Emeritus of Visual AIDS.

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.