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Photo by Jacolby Satterwhite

Mitchell-Innes & Nash has promoted Courtney Willis Blair, a director at the New York gallery, to partner, The Art Newspaperreports. According to the gallery, Willis Blair, who joined the organization as an artist liaison in 2016, is one of the first of just a handful of Black partners at white-run galleries across the country and likely one of the few to ever hold a stake in a white-owned blue-chip Chelsea gallery.

“I feel really excited for this step in my career,” said Willis Blair, a founder of the Black art dealers’ and advisers’ collective Entre Nous, who previously worked at Mary Ryan Gallery and the Studio Museum in Harlem, both in New York. “I’ve invested a lot in the gallery and me and Lucy [Mitchell-Innes] work incredibly well together.”

Named a director in 2017, Willis Blair brought Ghanian mixed-media artist Gideon Appah and American conceptual artist Jacolby Satterwhite into the gallery’s programming, citing their compatibility with Mitchell-Innes & Nash’s focus on political and conceptual art. Willis-Blair plans to expand the gallery’s roster of international artists, citing a particular interest in “South and Central America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.” Gallery co-owner Lucy Mitchell-Innes noted Willis Blair’s talent for discovering new artists and assisting them in staging “complicated projects in far-flung locations.”

Speaking on the dearth of BIPOC in positions of power in the art world and the resounding calls for change in this regard that have issued forth over the past year, Willis Blair was optimistic. “There are a lot of things that need to be fixed, and we’re beginning to see where some of those cracks are, particularly with institutions. They are asking themselves really big questions with complicated answers,” she said. Willis Blair emphasized that galleries are in a position to remedy the problem owing to their “flexibility and nimbleness” as compared to that of large museums.