The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), North Miami has been through highs and lows since opening as the Center of Contemporary Art in 1981, but, after some tumultuous times in recent years, things are now looking up—and focused—with the recent appointment of Chana Budgazad Sheldon as the institution’s new executive director. The former Locust Projects leader brings a passion for innovation and a commitment to community—most recently on display in her role as the Miami director of nonprofit ProjectArt—to MOCA, which rocketed to international attention under the tenure of Bonnie Clearwater, now at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale.
Since joining the institution earlier this year, Sheldon has been settling in with staff and talking with community stakeholders, including those at neighboring institutions. “My immediate priority at this moment is listening,” she says. “I want to hear from the community about what brings people into a public museum. I have found that ideas and programs with staying power are born from these kinds of conversations.”
MOCA’s spring season opened with Obscura, the first solo museum exhibition in the United States by South African artist Lionel Smit, and Sheldon is excited about the fall’s solo exhibition with Miami’s Mira Lehr, Tracing the Red Thread, opening Sept. 6. “With Mira’s show, we are reinforcing MOCA’s commitment to supporting local artists,” she says. “MOCA is known for its provocative and innovative exhibitions, and for seeking a fresh approach. That is our strength and opportunity.”
With her new role in the heart of North Miami, Sheldon hopes to reflect the interest of the immediate community while speaking to contemporary art globally. “I believe that art matters, that it can change people’s perspectives about themselves and the world around them,” she says. “Such engagement, particularly through art, can be transformational for those involved, and that’s why I do what I do.” 770 NE 125th St., North Miami, 305.893.6211
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