The American Folk Art Museum’s New Director Has a Plan to Raise the Profile of Self-Taught Art

Self-taught art is "genuine, immediate, and candid," says the museum's new director, Jason T. Busch.

Jason T. Busch. Photo courtesy of the American Folk Art Museum.

Last week, the American Folk Art Museum announced Jason T. Busch as its new executive director, replacing Anne-Imelda Radice, who retired in March after leading the museum for six years and steering it from the precipice of bankruptcy.

Busch hopes to raise the profile of folk art in the US by collaborating with other institutions and highlighting in particular the unique rewards of work by self-taught artists. Folk art “celebrates the accomplishments of self-taught artists, whose inspiration and creativity come from within and are often the result of their personal experiences, rather than through what is learned in formal training,” Busch told artnet News in an email. “It’s genuine, immediate, and candid expression that is also accessible to levels of understanding.”

Busch was previously director of the Jason Jacques Gallery, which specializes in design and ceramics. Throughout his 20-year career, Busch has hopped across the commercial and institutional divide several times. Prior to joining Jason Jacques, he served as deputy director of the Saint Louis Art Museum and as curator of folk art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. His résumé also includes stints at Sotheby’s, the Wadsworth Atheneum, and the Carnegie Museum of Art.

His experience in the museum world could help him generate institutional collaborations that contextualize folk art within contemporary discourse. “Partnerships and collaborations with museums and other nonprofits, both within New York City and nationally, have the potential of providing diverse audiences with greater exposure to self-taught across time and place,” he said. “I also see further opportunities to inspire living artists to engage with the museum’s collections through contemporary interpretations.”

Busch will begin at the Folk Art Museum in September.

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