"It’s not a surprise that the director of a prominent, important gallery is black or is young or is a woman,” said Arnold Lehman, director of the Brooklyn Museum, which has showed two of Ms. Vassell’s artists. “But when you run the three together, it sends a very important signal."
Deitch Projects director Nicola Vassell is the subject of an article in The Times, A Shaper of Talent for a Changing Art World. The piece is the fourth in the paper's "Breaking In," series, which explores the ups and downs of trying to begin a career in the arts. Previous subjects were a dancer, a musician, and a music promoter.
30 year-old Vassell (whose face you may recognize; she was an oft-booked model in a previous life) joined the Deitch empire as an intern three and a half years ago. She moved through the ranks, impressed owner Jeffrey Deitch with "an artistic vision that is embedded in her personality," and became a director in 2007. Needless to say, the landscape has shifted a bit since Vassell began her new post. The Kingston, Jamaica native credits having survived her country's recession with her unshakable poise and verve in today's dwindling market. "Even as a newbie," she says, "I knew the center couldn't hold."
Vassell represents Kehinde Wiley, who'll be designing a collection of clothing and accessories for Puma, for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Wiley says of Vassell, "In the last few years, it’s like somebody who abides with you. She’s got a nose for really great art. She comes by the studio, and we talk, and I can paint. It’s a conversation that turns into an ability to communicate to the public what I’m trying to do."