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Gaëtane Verna, Executive Director
Jan 11, 2023
Let me be the first to wish you a Happy New Year on behalf of the entire team at the Wexner Center for the Arts. I hope that the end-of-year holidays have been a peaceful and restful time with family and friends. As we move into 2023, I am enthusiastic at the thought of discovering—alongside you—all the Wexner Center has to offer.
I started at the Wex on November 28, and I chose to spend this first month meeting with the center’s dedicated team while beginning to meet colleagues and members of the vibrant Columbus arts community. Within my first few weeks, I was delighted to be invited to take part in a trip to New York with staff, trustees, and members to meet artists with whom we will soon be working and to visit exhibitions featuring many artists who have crossed paths with the Wex over the years and some who may be appearing in our spaces soon. Having the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking conversations with artists is always such a deeply meaningful and memorable part our work and our shared artistic journeys.
I recently sat down with the Columbus Dispatch and in that conversation, which can be found on dispatch.com, I candidly speak of my enthusiasm about being here in Columbus and at the Wexner Center and the many possibilities that 2023 will bring. This January, we’ll engage with a series of critical questions and topics, such as the end-of-life issues explored in our Resting Places film series and panel discussion or the threat of climate change evoked in the powerful theatrical production Are we not drawn onward to new erA. The films, performances, educational programs, and visual arts programs that we present at Wexner Center aim to not only deliver aesthetic experiences, but also tackle pressing societal issues in new and exhilarating ways.
The work you’ll encounter here is an invitation to think and reflect on the current important issues of our world. From event to event, exhibition to exhibition, we offer you an invitation to engage with topics, to investigate the culture from new angles, and to participate in dialogues that disrupt, challenge, and always enlighten your spirit and your mind. It’s an invitation that I take pride in extending.
I hope to see you in our galleries or at a film or performance very soon.
After my whirlwind first week in Columbus I am thrilled to write to you as the Wexner Center for the Arts’ new executive director. I am humbled and awed to be part of this great institution.
On behalf of the Wexner Center and its friends, please join me in thanking Kelly Stevelt and Megan Cavanaugh for their steadfast leadership during the interim phase and my transition into this role. They’ve worked tirelessly as co-interim executive directors, and I am grateful to them and the entire Wex staff for their commitment during this period.
I am honored to be part of one of the leading contemporary arts institutions in the world. To work alongside this dedicated team, to build on the center’s remarkable past, and to shape its bright future together is a gift. To me, an institution is—first and foremost—its people: the staff, the artists we support, the individuals who support us in turn, and the patrons who walk through our doors. At its best, an institution brings together all these voices into harmony—a choir of different voices chiming together, yet each beautiful in its own way.
Art has the power to articulate the challenging questions of our society and to provide meaningful insights about how we might approach our lives. Art, artists, and institutions can imagine, disrupt, and lead when it comes to encouraging change and movement toward a more just society. I believe there are no borders between artistic practices, and the multidisciplinary mission to which the Wexner Center is so committed ensures we can connect our audiences with uniquely broad perspectives—local, national, and global. My goal is to see the Wex continue this work and to invite you to engage in these dialogues and experiences that so enrich our lives.
As a supporter of the Wex, you are foundational to it all, and I’m so grateful that you have chosen to join us on a journey that nurtures these engagements.