Message from the Director

Sofía Córdova in SJMA’s first digital artist commission, SOBRE/ON. 

Happy 2021!

We send you greetings from SJMA for a safe and healthy New Year.

We are so grateful to you, our members, for staying engaged with us during our closures. Your patience and support while our staff worked cross-departmentally to create rich content online, and your participation last fall in the new exhibitions South East North West and Barring Freedom, co-organized with the UC Santa Cruz Institute of Arts and Sciences is deeply appreciated. We are thrilled to re-open Friday March 12th ​for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, so we will see you at the Museum. We are ready!

We ended 2020 in so many positive ways, including Almost Human: Digital Art from the Permanent Collection being chosen as one of Square Cylinder’s Best of 2020! The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded us a major grant with other small museums that show “long and strong connections to community engagement and a focus on social justice,” and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced a three-year grant to SJMA to expand digital strategies, launched with the commission of Sofía Córdova’s SOBRE/ON.

We have been hard at work investing in a better SJMA for a stronger post-pandemic Museum. We welcomed new Board President Glenda Dorchak, who brings business acumen and a talent for organizational growth to her work with us, along with new Trustees Mr. Cole Harrell, Claudia Worthington Hess, and Tammy Kiely. Most importantly, we continue internal work to become an anti-racist museum with all-day trainings on building racial equity that tie into our strategic goal to discuss issues, choice points, and places for change.

As we look optimistically toward increased vaccination and a renewed interest to support the arts and the sciences—we know that culture is a critical component of the solution to today’s challenges. As Jason Farago said in The New York Times: “The function of art, Aristotle told us, is catharsis.”* This release of emotions enabled by catharsis helps us understand tragedy and the sublime. It provides us with a deep clarity of what it means to be human, reminding us we are not alone. Making and experiencing art allows us to express and process the world around us, to delve into emotions otherwise too difficult and ambiguous to articulate. Inspired by art and by artists, we face the future with determination.

S. Sayre Batton
Oshman Executive Director

*Jason Farago, “The Arts Are in Crisis.” The New York Times, Jan 13, 2021.