The Foundation Staff
Christa Blatchford, Chief Executive Officer for the Joan Mitchell Foundation, directs the vision of the Foundation with the Board of Directors, and oversees the programming, administration and operations of the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s two New York City locations as well as the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, LA. Christa previously served as the Foundation’s Artist Support Director, and then Deputy Director, overseeing national programs including the inaugural years of the CALL Program.
A visual artist herself, Christa has been dedicated to the support of visual artists throughout her career. Before joining the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Christa spent three years as a Program Officer at the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), working to provide a variety of professional development opportunities for artists. She has also worked with a range of non-profit visual arts organizations including Minetta Brook and Eyebeam. At Minetta Brook she worked on critically acclaimed programs such as Robert Smithson’s Floating Island to Travel Around Manhattan Island. Christa Blatchford received her Masters degree in Fine Arts from Hunter College in 2005, taught at Hunter’s Undergraduate Art Department, and has shown her artwork throughout New England. Christa resides in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two children.
As Senior Director of Facilities, Derrick Biney-Amissah coordinates technology deployment and ensures that the Foundation's various facilities are able to support its programs, functions and mission. He studied philosophy and fine art at Georgetown University and received an MFA in painting from Pratt Institute. Working in academic administration and on various capital projects for more than a decade at Pratt Institute's Media Arts Department and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, he developed a strong interest in organizational design, applied technology, and the power of creative collaborations to affect institutions and society. He has served on the Church Council at the Riverside Church in New York, where he has been a longtime member, and is a mentor with the Moriah Institute. While it amuses him to write about himself in the third person, he would like it to be known that, among many other things, he enjoys cycling, soccer, art, design and his colleagues.
As the Senior Director of Programs, Travis Laughlin is responsible for the oversight of the Foundation’s various artist support programs, and is a member of the senior management team. In his previous role as the Art Education Director for the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Travis Laughlin served as the visionary and implementer of all Foundation art education initiatives, including spearheading the Senior Art Program in 2012. Prior to his role as Art Education Director, he worked with the Foundation as the Professional Development Program Coordinator. Travis began his career in education by teaching United States history at an alternative high school in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has also worked with the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House as a Program Coordinator for their afterschool pregnancy prevention program and acted as the liaison for all their art programming. A North Carolina native, Travis earned his BA in Secondary Social Studies Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his MS in Education from Bank Street College in New York City, where he currently resides.
Aimee Solomon is the Senior Director of Finance of the Joan Mitchell Foundation and a member of the senior management team. Aimee is accountable for the financial, and risk management operations of the Foundation, which includes the development of a financial and operational strategy, metrics tied to that strategy, and the ongoing development and monitoring of control systems designed to preserve company assets and report accurate financial results.
Before joining the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Aimee spent 5 years as an auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP in the Entertainment division. Aimee then left PwC to work as the Accounting Manager and then Director of Accounting and Financial Reporting at Sonar Entertainment. Additionally, Aimee then spent 2 years working exclusively with nonprofit organizations fulfilling financial needs at various clients as their part-time Controller. Aimee received her Bachelors of Science, Accounting degree from Monmouth University in New Jersey, where she currently resides.
A graphic designer and artist, Melissa began her work for the Foundation as a consultant, and came on as staff in 2012, managing the Foundation’s website, graphic design and communication projects. Melissa holds a BA in Photography from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a MFA in Printmedia from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and is proud to count Joan Mitchell as a fellow alumna.
Melissa also works part-time for a political messaging agency focused on progressive causes such as ACLU, Amnesty International, MoveOn.org, and Planned Parenthood. Melissa has additionally worked as an arts educator, and has taught graphic arts, printmaking, and photography to high school, college and adult students.
Eve Perry combines a background in museum collections and exhibitions with her experience as a digital media manager and information specialist. She started out at the William Benton Museum of Art at the University of Connecticut where she acted as registrar for collections and exhibitions. Subsequently, she worked as Assistant Registrar at the Museum for African Art in New York where she helped organize and install traveling exhibitions at venues including The Museum of Contemporary Art Houston, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and The Museum of the African Diaspora. As a freelance developer, she has worked on projects for The National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress and The Association for Recorded Sound Collections. She is currently pursuing a Masters in the School of Information and Library Science at the Pratt Institute.
Janice Teran is the Administrative Associate at the Joan Mitchell Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was a full-time student at Rutgers University where she earned a BA in Art History. As the Operations Associate, Janice oversees the maintenance and use of the Foundation's Education & Research Center, in addition to performing various administrative and office support activities for multiple departments, and provides direct administrative support to the senior management team.
Artist Support Department
Shervone Neckles-Ortiz manages the New York City and national programs for both the Creating a Living Legacy (CALL) Program and Professional Development Program. Before joining the Foundation, Neckles-Ortiz worked as an Art Education consultant and Adjunct Professor for Pratt Institute and other leading NYC art institutions and organizations. For several years, Neckles-Ortiz served her Brooklyn community as a high school teacher in the NYC Department of Education before moving into roles as a Department Chair and contributor to the Arts Achieve: Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant Program.
As an interdisciplinary artist Neckles-Ortiz has held residencies at the Youlou Arts Foundation, the Elizabeth Foundation SHIFT Program, the Center for Book Arts, The Fabric Workshop & Museum, and The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Previous awards include grants from Queens Arts Fund, The Puffin Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, as well as fellowships from Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop and Manhattan Graphic Center. Her work has been shown worldwide in both solo and group exhibitions. Her practice also has included curatorial projects with Pratt Center for Community Development and Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, and at the Ice Box Gallery in Philadelphia. She’s earned an M.A. from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, MFA from Queens College and BFA from the College of New Rochelle. Her work can be seen at www.shervoneneckles.com.
As the Artist Programs Manager focused on Young Artist Initiatives, José Ortiz runs a mentorship and portfolio development program for participants age 12 to 25. He holds a BFA from the School of Visual Arts, NYC, and is a painter, multi-media artist and arts educator, committed to connecting art with our everyday world. In addition to exhibiting his work both regionally and internationally, he has curated visual art shows, designed sets for dance performances and was a key collaborator on several large-scale multi-media installation projects at the Bronx Museum of the Arts and The Point, CDC. As an art educator, José has worked for The Children’s Art Carnival, Henry Street Settlement, Romare Bearden Foundation, The Anyone Can Fly Foundation and other national and international arts organizations.
As the Artist Programs Associate, Lilia serves as the first point of contact for artists around all artist programs, supports the Artist Program department, and oversees the logistics of the Foundation's grant programs. Prior to joining the Foundation, Lilia spent three years as a Program Officer at a private family foundation focused on child welfare, where she managed that foundation’s grant programs, including programs in many art disciplines. She holds a BA in Art History and Anthropology from New York University and while she is not a skilled artist herself, in her free time she enjoys knitting, baking, traveling, and reading, and is always looking for new and exciting experiences. She is also a passionate supporter of animal rescue shelters, and dreams of one day owning a farm so she can rescue all the dogs.
As the Archives Project Assistant, Courtney Lynch processes archival collections and oversees copyright permissions for Mitchell’s artwork. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2017, Courtney held positions at Burlington City Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Additionally, she has worked on projects at the Museum of the City of New York and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
Courtney holds a Master's degree in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU, where she authored a Master's thesis on the anomalous WWI-era sculptures of Paul Klee. Courtney is currently pursuing a Master's in Information and Library Science at Pratt Institute. Her interests include the study and creation of works on paper, organizing things, and telling dogs how good they are.
As Archivist, Laura Morris manages the Foundation’s archival collections and facilitates access to these research materials for scholars, curators, students, and others with an interest in Mitchell’s life and work. She answers reference questions regarding individual works’ exhibition and publication histories. Laura also oversees copyright permissions for Mitchell’s artwork and provides research and logistical support to exhibitions, publications, and educational projects internationally. A Tennessee native, Laura earned a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar. She spent a year abroad in France as an undergraduate, and later returned to Aix-en-Provence to live and paint. Laura holds a master’s degree in Library Science, with an Archives Management concentration, as well as an M.A. in History, from Simmons College. Her master's thesis concerned the use of photography in 19th century French medical practice. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2012, Laura worked as an Archivist for the Harvard Art Museums, the Harvard Business School Historical Collections, the Harvard University Archives, and the New York Public Library / Manuscripts Division. In her creative life, Laura paints, binds books, marbles paper, knits, and bakes.
Joan Mitchell Catalogue Raisonné
As the Project Director for the Joan Mitchell Catalogue Raisonné, Suzi is responsible for overseeing the Catalogue Raisonné project, identifying necessary areas of research, overseeing the team of researchers, developing a timeline and budget for the project, and will manage the eventual production and publication of the multi-volume book. Prior to beginning her research on Mitchell, Suzi was the Editor and Project Manager for the Hans Hofmann Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, and has served as the Director of Membership for the Catalogue Raisonné Scholars Association since 2013. She has also worked with contemporary artists, including painter Terry Winters, at Matthew Marks Gallery in New York, and at the intaglio etching studio Paulson Press in California. She received a BA in art history from Northwestern University and MA from New York University. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two sons, and cat.
At the Joan Mitchell Catalogue Raisonné, Alexandra Tagami performs research focused on exhibitions and bibliographic materials pertaining to Mitchell’s work. Prior to joining the Catalogue Raisonné, Alex worked at Driscoll Babcock Galleries (established 1852) in Chelsea, where she led the gallery's research program for five years. During her time at Driscoll Babcock, Alex researched the exhibitions and publications record of John Frederick Kensett for the gallery's forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné on the artist. Alex has served as lead researcher on several gallery and museum publications, including Charting New Waters: Redefining Marine Painting, Masterworks from the Burrichter/Kierlin Collection (Minnesota Marine Art Museum, 2013), which was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2014 American Alliance of Museums Publications Competition. Previously, Alex worked in the art department of The Atlantic, where she researched and commissioned editorial photographers and illustrators for the magazine. Alex received a BA in art history from the University of Virginia, where she graduated with distinction for her thesis on the paintings of Ad Reinhardt.
Joan Mitchell Center on Bayou Road, New Orleans, LA
Gia M. Hamilton joined the Joan Mitchell Center in 2011 as a consultant and was appointed Director in July 2013. She comes to the Joan Mitchell Center with a broad perspective of visual art, operational functions and community development where she acts as a conductor of information between the New York and New Orleans communities as well as a catalyst for change in contemporary art through designing innovative models for artistic and cultural exchanges and expansive public programming in the global arts and creative community. Hamilton is currently on the board of Alliance for Artist Communities and a member of Res Artis, ArtTable, The American Anthropological Association, and a Dr. Norman Francis Leadership Institute 2014 Fellow.
Hamilton, a native of New Orleans, received her Bachelor’s in cultural anthropology with a minor in visual art from New York University and her Master’s in applied anthropology from City University of New York. For 15 years in New York City, Hamilton worked with non-profit organizations as a Serial Entrepreneur, Program Development Consultant, Community Engagement Organizer and Curator. Gia spent 6 years working in the corporate sector as a researcher and organizational design consultant with Downey Associates International, supporting financial firms and non-profit organizations like Citigroup, Hearst-Argyle and TIAA-CREF in their restructuring process. In 2009, Hamilton founded Gris Gris Lab, as a place based incubator and cultural exchange space to ensure that emerging thought-leaders could actualize their interdisciplinary projects through an innovative live-work model in Central City, New Orleans. Later, Gris Gris Lab built a team of social scientists who began cultural consulting to further support and strengthen the local economies of non-profits and small businesses in New Orleans, Seattle, Haiti, Washington D.C., Detroit and New York City.
Silvia Chamale is the Joan Mitchell Center’s Housekeeper and Hospitality Associate. Born in Guatemala, she has lived in New Orleans for 15 years. Silvia is the mother of three and has been working as a housekeeper for 10 years. She’s worked in restaurants as a waitress and making desserts. Silvia used to work at the House on Bayou Road Bed & Breakfast and has been with the Center since February of 2013.
Frank Gleber brings a wide range of experience to his position as the Joan Mitchell Center’s Hospitality Manager. Over the past 8 years, he worked first as a travelling Inn-Sitter and then as an Innkeeper in bed and breakfasts both in Florida and Louisiana. As a boy, Frank often worked in the kitchen with his French mother preparing the family meals so it is little wonder that he has been either head cook, owner/operator, manager, or some combination of those roles for several Louisiana restaurants and is known among the staff and residency artists at the Center for his delicious home-style cooking. If that were not enough, Frank has likewise been a floral arranger, the owner/operator of a daylily nursery, a wedding cake catering service, and a dairy farmer for 28 years, first in his family’s business and then on his own.
As Operations Manager, Danielle oversees and manages the day-to-day operations, ongoing maintenance, and upkeep of the property, grounds and facilities at the Joan Mitchell Center, along with financial coordination and technology oversight. An alumna of the University of New Orleans, Danielle has years of experience as an Operations Manager, previously with Spectrum FX in New Orleans, and Dealer.com in California. She also brings her experiences as a senior account executive and event manager to serve the varied needs and programming at the Joan Mitchell Center.
Edward “Ted” Martin is the Joan Mitchell Center’s Property Manager. A native of Lexington, KY, Ted has a background in horticulture studies, an eye for design, and strong organizational skills. Before moving to New Orleans in August 2010, he put these many skills to use working for a number of years staging home interiors for property sales and as a landscape artist with a realty company. Ted also has worked as a floral designer, been the owner/operator of a video rental franchise and two popular gay bars in Paducah, KY as well at the manager of a successful catalog resale store. His interests include photography, horticulture, floral arranging, and collecting natural artifacts such as shells and rocks for his projects.
Sharbreon Plummer is an artist and creative practitioner with an interest in how culture and ancient practices act as influencers of personal expression, specifically within the African Diaspora + Latin America. Her practice is a combination of research, creation, and participation, and incorporates the inclusion of others as a way to build dialogue and/or visibility around contemporary issues. She received her B.A. from the University of Houston-Downtown, and an M.A. in Arts Administration from the University of New Orleans. Sharbreon’s creative experience stems from working directly with visual artists, youth groups, non-profits, and other cultural institutions across the U.S., including Texas, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Louisiana. She is also the founder of The Creative Apothecary, an experimental art & design platform that uses collaborative projects and research as tools for artistic exploration and expression.
As Program Associate for Community Engagement, she assists in supporting public programming, alongside building and managing local partnerships and reciprocal relationships with institutions and individuals within the city of New Orleans. She also supports visiting Artists-In-Residence through tailoring experiences and fostering connections to local resources, artists, and institutions.
Sandy Thornburg serves as the Joan Mitchell Center’s Weekend Property Coordinator and is here to help ensure a smooth flow of the Center’s operation from weekday through weekend. Weekdays, Sandy teaches in the primary grades at a local school. She loves being part of the Joan Mitchell Center team and is happy to help our artist residents have a successful stay at the Center.