New co-directors of Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art named for 2019

Artists Byron Kim and Lisa Sigal (Photo by Adeline Kim)
Artists Byron Kim ’83 and Lisa Sigal M.F.A. ’90

Artists Byron Kim ’83 and Lisa Sigal M.F.A. ’90 have been appointed co-directors of the Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art for summer of 2019.

Established in 1948, the Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art is considered the preeminent undergraduate summer art residency in the United States. Taking place at the bucolic Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate in Norfolk, Conn., the program brings together 26 rising seniors enrolled as undergraduate art students and juried from nominations by deans and directors from over 200 institutions across the United States and abroad. The Yale Norfolk Summer School has a long legacy with celebrated past alumni including Eva Hesse, Sheila Hicks, Robert Mangold, Brice Marden, Sarah Oppenheimer, Sarah Sze, and Mickalene Thomas.

Kim and Sigal assume the directorship for the Yale Norfolk Summer School from Samuel Messer, adjunct professor at Yale School of Art and former associate dean, who directed the summer program at Norfolk for 20 years. Yale School of Art Dean Marta Kuzma notes: “For 20 years, Samuel Messer has steadfastly preserved the legacy of a summer school that has served as an important place for teaching young artists. The Yale School of Art pays tribute to these dynamic efforts and to his long-standing commitment. We seek to continue to foster the Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art in forging an early professional community — one that alumni may refer to throughout their careers as artists for advice and friendship. Both Byron Kim and Lisa Sigal are committed to respecting the legacy of the Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art while also building a public program that links issues explored within the Yale School of Art, further connecting to the art and creative community of the region.”

Kim and Sigal plan to preserve and develop the Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art as a sustainable summer residency art program for undergraduate rising seniors. In reflecting on the vision of Kuzma for the Yale School of Art, Kim and Sigal have developed a theme for the summer program in 2019 titled “The Ethics of Color,” presenting a series of lectures covering divergent potential topics such as the colors industry has produced, the colors of bodies, color as a material witness to disaster, and the colors of art itself. 

Developing the program over the next year, Kim and Sigal will seek new ways for audiences to interact with “The Ethics of Color” lectures and presenters. The Norfolk art students will have opportunities to respond that go beyond the typical question-and-answer session following a talk. The roster of speakers will influence the students’ summer dialogue in a structured way, culminating in a digital archive of these interactions. 

Kim and Sigal hope to engage with the town of Norfolk to help position the area as a regional art center, while emphasizing interdisciplinary public programming and fostering an evolving leadership approach within the program. In keeping with the vision of Kuzma, they hope to build the Norfolk summer residency as an extension of the Yale School of Art with enhanced opportunities for Yale M.F.A. graduates.

Both accomplished artists with vigorous studio practices, Kim and Sigal possess long-standing experience in teaching, learning, and administration within a summer arts residency program, having been involved since 1986 with the Skowhegan summer residency program for emerging artists. At Skowhegan, Kim and Sigal have both served in the capacities of student, staff, faculty, and are currently on the program’s Board of Governors. Both co-directors have participated in the Whitney Biennial — Kim in 1993 and Sigal in 2008 — and their works have found audiences worldwide. Sigal is a founder of Open Sessions, a program for artists at The Drawing Center in New York City that provides opportunities to find new approaches for contextualizing and exhibiting their work. Sigal is also a founding artist/activist of Blights Out, a coalition in New Orleans generating art, dialog, and action in support of housing as a human right. Kim joined the faculty of the department of Painting and Printmaking at Yale School of Art in 2001, and is currently a senior critic. Kim has also served for more than a decade on the Public Design Commission of the City of New York.