How We Work

Over three decades, the Joan Mitchell Foundation has grown from one artist’s legacy to an organization that employs around 30 individuals and engages with thousands of artists, scholars, curators, and other community members through our programs and initiatives. We have defined a set of guiding principles for our work, encompassing both programmatic approaches and our organizational work culture.

A group of 12 people of various age and dress stand on the steps of the porch of the Joan Mitchell Center
Joan Mitchell Fellows and speakers at the 2022 Fellowship Convening at the Joan Mitchell Center. Photo by Melissa Dean.

Equity and Belonging

  • We strive to maintain a welcoming and inclusive environment built on cultural appreciation and respect for different experiences, perspectives, and beliefs.

  • We invest in robust research, outreach, and recruitment to ensure that the identities and lived experiences of our staff, vendors, and program participants reflect the broad diversity of the United States.

  • We are committed to ensuring the accessibility of our physical and virtual sites, programming, and employment opportunities, and welcome feedback on any barriers to participation.

  • We maintain a learning culture to advance the awareness and understanding of individuals in our multiple, intersectional communities.

Two women talk as they lean over photos in folders.
Director of Archives and Research Laura Morris with research intern Sinclair Spratley in the Joan Mitchell Foundation Archives office, New York. Photo by Melissa Dean.

Open and Respectful Communication

  • Within our community, we encourage respect and clarity in communicating needs, boundaries, perspectives, and opinions, while also being mindful to understand and respect those of others.
  • We relate to each other with the assumption of best intentions and are as proactive as possible in addressing issues that arise, drawing on restorative approaches to conflict resolution whenever possible and appropriate.
  • The Foundation’s anti-harassment policy spells out behavior and speech that are not tolerated within our community.
Artists-in-Residence, staff, and guests in the studio of Juan Carlos Quintana at the Joan Mitchell Center, 2022. Photo by Kendra C. Thompson.

Flexibility and Risk-Taking

  • Just as we value process and practice in our programs for artists, the Foundation encourages our staff to try new things, stay curious, and be iterative.

  • As an organization, we are willing to work outside the box and commit to innovative solutions when they are consistent with our goals and our values.

  • We find creative ways to work within the available resources.

At a group of three round tables with white tablecloths, a group of about 16 people of various ages, dress, and skin tones look towards the front of the room, where two speakers stand: Noor Jones-Bey, a Black woman with medium-dark skin tone, clear glasses, and curly brown and blond hair, and Tiffany Lenoi-Jones, a Black woman with medium-light skin tone, bright green glasses, and black and gray curly hair.
Tiffany Lenoi-Jones and Noor Jones-Bey leading a discussion at the 2023 Fellowship Convening at the Joan Mitchell Foundation in New York. Photo by Melissa Dean.

Long-Term Engagement

  • We recognize the importance of staff having a sense of fulfillment and learning that comes with deep engagement with their work, and aim to support them in extended, focused time with their projects.

  • We ask both staff and program participants to engage fully with our offerings, as active participants in a community of peers invested in long relationships.

  • We strive to sustain the Foundation for generations to come, as an enduring resource for artists and researchers and a continuation of Joan Mitchell’s legacy.

Joan Mitchell reclines in a white hammock in the woods, a black poodle stands near
Joan Mitchell and Georges du Soleil in Springs, New York, ca. 1953. Photo by Barney Rosset.

Balance and Sustainability

  • We strive to create a culture of care, centering the needs of the people in our community beyond their work.
  • We value balancing responsiveness to current work with building resilience for opportunities and challenges yet to come.
  • We commit to regularly assessing our work and its impact so that we can invest deeply in what is most important and determine what we need to let go of or extend over time. This is all with an eye on sustainability of the Foundation’s resources—both financial and human.

We welcome feedback from our community on how we can better align our work with these commitments. Please write to the Foundation at [email protected].