After 10 fantastic years, EFA bids farewell to Michelle Levy.
Michelle joined The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in 2008, tasked with the creation of a new program. Starting from scratch, she approached the challenge from her perspective as an artist — seeking out programming that supports the enrichment of ideas, encourages empowerment and growth, creates connections and conversations, and strengthens bonds among artists and cultural producers. She created EFA Project Space, a collaborative, cross-disciplinary art venue aimed at bridging a gap in the New York art community and serving as a public face for EFA.
Ten years on, the program has developed into a flexible, evolving platform that creates dialogue between disciplines through the work of invited guest curators, including writers, arts activists, designers, cultural organizers, and collectives. From the start, openness and integrity have been the guiding principles behind the program, which offers a welcoming space for marginalized perspectives, risk taking, and live exchange from the political to the playful, often pushing the limits of what a gallery can be. In addition to its history of ambitious formal exhibitions, the Project Space has shape-shifted into a movie house, a musical theater, a library, a punk rock club, a movement laboratory, a community space for activists, a pop-up daycare center, and more. Under Michelle’s generous and visionary leadership, EFA Project Space has presented fifty exhibitions supporting the work of over 600 local and international artists, including the most recent exhibition, which brought nine New York City artists to Eastern Europe to create work in dialogue with a group of artists in Prague.
Michelle has also been instrumental in guiding the creation of an exciting initiative of EFA Project Space, the SHIFT Residency. Originally the Residency for Arts Workers as Artists in 2010, SHIFT is aimed at supporting the many artists in New York City who work jobs at arts organizations—providing space, time, and peer support to help these artists gain a new perspective on their individual artistic practice, while finding balance with the work they do for the art community. SHIFT has since grown into a full-year program hosting seven artists each year from organizations across New York City. We have witnessed SHIFT become a catalytic experience for many of its participating artists, changing outlooks and life paths. As she has put such care into this residency supporting dozens of artists in similar positions to her own, Michelle receives our heartfelt blessings as she makes her own necessary shift after ten years of impeccable leadership at EFA Project Space.
Parallel to her role at EFA, Michelle has continued to expand her own interdisciplinary artistic practice, and we are proud to watch her enter this next chapter as she takes time and space to dedicate to this valuable work.
Michelle’s unique achievements have been possible only through her unfailing creativity, outreach, flexibility, and dedication. Her hard work has made a constructive difference in the lives of many, and we are thrilled that she will remain an advisor to the program.