The George Washington University announced Tuesday that longtime arts advocate and educator Sanjit Sethi will lead the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design as its inaugural director.
Mr. Sethi brings extensive experience to his new role after serving as a director, artist and educator the past decade. For the last two years, he held the position of director of the Santa Fe Art Institute. He will join the Corcoran School on Oct. 1.
"Sanjit Sethi is an accomplished artist and administrator, skilled in facilitating partnerships and managing an arts organization and recognized for his commitment to interdisciplinary work and creative problem solving," said Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ben Vinson. "In the course of his career, he has displayed a rare sensitivity to connecting with communities and promoting art for the greater good. He is a visionary and a leader who will add richly to GW and to D.C. and be integral to Corcoran's growth."
Mr. Sethi’s time at Santa Fe Art Institute was marked by a passion for collaboration. He created several initiatives, like the institute’s six-week summer community design intensive called Design Workshop, SFAI 140 and Project 8 programs. His own artistic work includes the Building Nomads Project, a collaborative focused on migrant construction works that he completed as a Fulbright Scholar in Bangalore, India. His other pieces include Richmond Voting Stories, a project that examined voting as a civic activity, and Kuni Wada Bakery Remembrance, an olfactory-based counter-memorial honoring a Japanese-owned bakery in Memphis, Tenn., that was shut down days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He plans to bring his interest in community to his role at GW.
“I’m excited to see how work that we do at the Corcoran can transform the way we use creativity as a major driver for understanding communities and working to address pressing critical issues that we see around us,” he said. “The Corcoran can help transform the culture of GW and help create the next generation of global citizens.”
At Santa Fe Art Institute, Mr. Sethi also led a fundraising campaign to renovate the institute, was responsible for budgets and secured funding from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and the Andy Warhol Foundation. He directed outreach and collaboration with local, national and international arts and humanitarian organizations.
He previously served as director of the Center for Art and Public Life at the California College of the Arts, where he spearheaded initiatives that addressed critical social issues through art. He was also the Barclay Simpson Chair of Community Arts and assistant professor at the institution.
Additionally, Mr. Sethi was on the board of directors at Intersection for the Arts and Richmond Art Center in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has been a visiting professor of art at the Saint Mary’s College in Indiana, an artist in residence at the Bannff Centre for the Arts in Canada and a lecturer in MIT’s visual arts program. He has also been a consultant on community engagement and how creativity can drive social change to scholars and cultural organizations in New Mexico, California, Canada, Japan, India and New Zealand.
Mr. Sethi said he believes the Corcoran will add cultural vibrancy to the broader university and sees his new position as an opportunity to integrate the arts at GW.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of a legacy institution like the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at the George Washington University,” he said. “I look forward to working with students, faculty, staff and administrators across the Corcoran and GW to educate the next generation of creative problem-solvers.”
Mr. Sethi holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art and a Master of Science in advanced visual studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Sanjit’s unique ability to identify ways that art can impact social change were impressive to me in the time that I worked alongside him at the California College of the Arts,” said Mr. Sethi’s former colleague Liz Ogbu, founder and principal of Studio O. “His extensive experience working with students and creating opportunities for them to participate in that change will make him an asset to GW and the Corcoran.”