Dorsky Museum Embraces New Curator

As of Oct. 2, Anastasia James is the new curator of exhibitions and programming at the Samuel J. Dorsky Museum of Art. She takes over the position previously held by Daniel Belasco, who in August moved on to accept a job as the Executive Director of the Al Held Foundation.

Out of over 50 applicants for the position, museum director Sara Pasti said that James is an “excellent fit for the Dorsky Museum.” James received a Master’s Degree in Museum Studies from the Bard Curatorial Studies Program, a competitive visual arts curator program. In this time, she became familiar with Hudson Valley arts and culture, another sizable plus for working at the Dorsky.

“We are very excited about Anastasia’s arrival at the museum,” Pasti said. “She brings to the position a combination of excellent scholarship, a track record of exhibition and program experience, a love of working with students, a warm and friendly personality and an infectious enthusiasm for the arts.”

“Given that [the Dorsky] operates in an academic context, [it is] a space that is equally about showing art works as it is a platform to discuss how we think about art today,” James said. “I am particularly interested in exploring how the Dorsky fits into the ecosystem of the Hudson Valley and New York and what the nature of our contribution has been to that ecosystem in the past so that we can build an exciting and lively schedule of exhibitions and programs moving forward.”

James’ expertise is in photography, which Pasti notes as “a primary focus of The Dorsky’s permanent collection.” Before the Dorsky, James held a job as associate curator for The Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) in San Francisco. There, she curated exhibits and coordinated educational programming.

One of James’ most notable curated exhibits was “Cary Leibowitz: Museum Show,” a career survey of the New York-based artist who James said “for three decades has turned a critical eye on subjects of identity, modernism, the art market, queer politics and kitsch.”

“In my practice, I tend to focus my energy on producing and presenting exhibitions of overlooked artists and under recognized events that relate to our contemporary condition,” James said.

She also expressed strong knowledge and interest in “all things Warhol” and an excitement to work with art history professor Reva Wolff on Dorsky’s upcoming exhibit, “Marking Time: Andy Warhol’s Vision of Celebrations and Anniversaries,” which will open in 2018.

Along with her new position at the Dorsky, James will teach Intro to Museum Studies for the Art History Department starting in spring 2018. 

“It is my first week on the job and each day is more exciting than the last,” she said. “There is so much talent in the Hudson Valley, not to mention in nearby New York City and I look forward to working with my network to bring that talent to the museum.”