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Studio Magazine

Studio Check In With Ketter Weissman

Ilk Yasha

Ketter, thank you for taking the time to speak with us! Could you please start by telling the readers about your role at the institution​?

I am the Assistant Director of Strategic Projects at the Studio Museum, which means a whole host of things from fundraising for our new building designed by Sir David Adjaye to analyzing critical paths forward, and most recently launching and sustaining the Museum’s new online store.

What are you most looking forward to experiencing when the new building opens up?

Standing in the lobby after an amazing walkthrough of the galleries, the education workshops, and the spectacular roof with city-scape views, and celebrating with my incredible colleagues. Every single team member at the Studio Museum has been and will continue to be instrumental to realizing this project and to anchoring Black art in Harlem; I can’t wait for the collective toast.

You’ve been supporting the launch of our first e-commerce site. What was that experience like?

It was an incredible lift made possible because of a cross-departmental cohort. We had dynamic meetings with Curatorial to ideate around product development and help secure artwork rights. We worked with Communications to design and build the store site. We researched fabricators and Black-led and designed brands to support and carry on the site. The launch marked a new beginning that built on the brilliant brick and mortar store my colleagues and predecessors created at 144 West 125th Street. I can’t wait for the store’s ongoing growth and future chapters.

We have a wonderful selection of jewelry on the online store . Is there one piece that you’re particularly drawn to? 

I want everything in the store, but I am a little biased. Top of the list is the Aziza Handcrafted Edan Studs. They come in gold and silver and feature a dollar sign—the fundraiser in me wants every member of the Development team to have them. I loved seeing the Museum’s Membership and Annual Fund Associate Paloma Hutton wear them as a staff model for our photo shoot.

Our brand new Njideka Akunyili Crosby bag and cosmetic bag features Nwantinti (2012) a work the artist made while an artist in residence at the Studio Museum. The set is gorgeous and I love how deeply it’s connected to our mission and work because it’s in our collection and created by a program alumna. 

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Nwantinti, bag 15.7 x 18.5 in. and cosmetic bag 6.7 x 8.5 in. sold separately 

The online store has a lot of intention in it. Is there an item that you feel has a beautiful story you’d like to share, something that excites you about the Museum’s mission? 

Since 2009 we have carried an umbrella that features original drawings by Wardell Milan of Harlem, its streetscapes,  religious spaces, iconic avenues and more. It's one of my favorite items because it speaks to our institution being in Harlem and addresses the ecosystem of the store—supporting our work with an unwavering commitment to our mission. This is also what makes the prints and posters available on the site so exciting, that you can now live with a reproduced work from our permanent collection and join us in championing and showcasing art made by artists of African descent. 

I think that the Studio Museum staff is pretty stylish, but then again, maybe I am biased. What is the most meaningful or storied item of clothing or accessory that you personally own?

I’m floored. I have so many things and objects that I love. It's nearly impossible to pick just one. I have to say, a ring of my father’s that was given to him by his sister for his bar mitzvah. It’s a flat slat with two charms popped in—a cursive “D” on the bottom right and a tiny gemstone on the top left.

I want everything in the store, but I am a little biased. Top of the list is the Aziza Handcrafted Edan Studs. They come in gold and silver and feature a dollar sign.

Everyone has a unique path for discovering their love of art. What made you specifically want to work in the arts?

I have known that I was going to work in the arts since I was a child. I distinctly remember driving down Wilshire Boulevard passing LACMA, being enamored by Chris Burden’s Urban Lights, and being awakened to the fact that museums have staff, too. It totally changed my relationship to the ever-asked question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” More than a decade later, I was lucky enough to land my first-ever museum internship at LACMA.

I knew Los Angeles would come up. You are originally from L.A., but you’ve lived in New York for almost a decade. Have you been following this recent “nice” versus “kind” debate playing out on social media? 

New York grit and kindness all the way. I mean, listen—I grew up in L.A., outside of a few years in Israel as a child, but my dad is a Queens cat, through and through. It runs in my blood, but I am certainly kind before I am nice.

How do you take your coffee?

Black. I will say, and you can probably tell this by my personality, but if I have more than three sips of coffee, I am over-wired, so more often than not, I opt for tea.

Since the pandemic, we’ve all had to make adjustments to our lives. What is an adjustment that you are hoping to keep with you, even after the pandemic ends? 

Well, a big adjustment is that I moved, and shortly after moving, I adopted a puppy that I met and picked up at 6:30 am in Hudson Yards through Pupstarz. I’m excited to see him grow.

What was the process like of adopting a dog?

Rewarding work! I opted to foster with the option to adopt and ended up asking to adopt the very first dog I met. I knew I was going to within five minutes of picking him up.

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