The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in New York, which focuses on exhibiting and supporting work by LGBTQIA+ artists, has expanded its 12-person board to include five new members. They are Kat Bishop, Giselle Byrd, Gonzalo Casals, Chella Man, and Raquel Willis.
Willis, currently the president of the Solutions Not Punishments Collaborative’s executive board, is a writer, activist, and media strategist known for her work focused on Black trans liberation. She previously served as the director of communications for Ms. Foundation for Women and executive editor of Out magazine, where she launched the Trans Obituaries Project, which won a GLAAD Media Award. In 2020, she was named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list and in 2018, she was an Open Society Foundations Soros Equality Fellow. Her writing was included in the groundbreaking Black Futures volume, edited by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham, and her memoir I Believe in Our Power is slated to be published by St. Martin’s Press next year.
Man is an artist and author whose work focuses on the “continuums of disability, race, gender, and sexuality” and encapsulates his identities as Deaf, trans, Jewish, and Chinese, according to a release. A mentor and resident at Silver Arts Project, he has exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum and Mana Contemporary. He is well known for documenting his gender transition on his YouTube channel and in his book Continuum (Penguin), as well as for his role in the DC Universe television show Titans.
Casals is a former director of the Leslie-Lohman as well as a former commissioner of cultural affairs for New York City; he is currently a senior research and policy fellow focusing on arts and culture at the Mellon Foundation.
Bishop is the founder of the cultural consulting agency Campfire Miami and had previously worked at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for 24 years, ultimately rising to the position of senior deputy director of external affairs. Byrd is a talent manager at the Katz Company and an activist focused on educating people about the experiences of Black Trans people living in the U.S.
“The possibilities for what a museum like Leslie-Lohman can offer are boundless, and we are evolving quickly,” Alyssa Nitchun, the Leslie-Lohman’s executive director, told ARTnews in an email. “As an explicitly queer museum we’re invoking the expansive, experimental power of queer artistry to playfully reimagine and reconfigure the world around us. This is radical, often joyous, and deeply collective work. This new cohort of Board members is critical to the vision of what my Board, team, and I are undertaking. They are equally as intent on co-creating a fresh, people-centered, revelatory museum for the 21st century.”
The cohort’s appointment comes shortly after the untimely passing of the museum’s vice chair, Margaret Rose Vendryes, who died in March and had served on the museum’s board since 2014. Vendryes will be honored at the museum’s gala on November 7.
“Margaret championed Leslie-Lohman’s expansion into the future and her vision for the Museum was always for it to grow, to match the world around us and our community’s needs,” Michael Manganiello, the museum’s board chair, said in a statement. “With this new cohort of Board members, we can confidently say Margaret’s vision is being realized and the Museum will continue to be a space where artistic exploration is a conduit for LGBTQIA+ joy, affirmation, and expression.”