Director of the Art Institute of Chicago James Rondeau announced today that Sarah Kelly Oehler has been appointed the new chair and curator of American art. She succeeds Judith Barter, who stepped down from the position in December 2016.
Oehler joined the institute in 2002 as assistant curator of American painting and sculpture. She most recently served as the curator of American art, focusing on the modern collection. Her current projects include “Whistler’s Mother: An American Icon Returns to Chicago” (on view until May 21) and “Charles White: A Retrospective” (opening June 2018), the first major retrospective of the African American artist’s work in several decades.
“Our national search to fill this position confirmed my intuition—that we had the absolute best candidate for the position in Sarah,” Rondeau said. “Time and time again, when we approached respected colleagues in the field for recommendations, she topped their list. The art institute is incredibly fortunate to count Sarah among our talented curators since 2002, and I am excited to see new aspirations for the department take shape under her thoughtful leadership.”