In August of 2023, Regents Professor and Guggenheim Fellow Sama Alshaibi became the new director of the Racial Justice Studio. In this role, Alshaibi will build strategic relationships with artists and academics to advance the study of anti-racism in and through the arts.
School of Art Professors Dr. Amelia Kraehe and gloria j. wilson co-founded the studio with Chelsea Farrar, curator of community engagement at the University of Arizona Museum of Art in 2021.
“After serving as an inaugural RJS Fellow in 2022-23, Sama Alshaibi is the right person to help lead the Studio from its initial ideation and development phase into the next period of growth,” said Kraehe, associate vice president for equity in the arts. “She is an engaged artist and intellectual who understands the critical role the arts play in local and global movements for racial justice. She brings decades of experience in project management and an expansive creative vision. We have much to look forward to in the years ahead!”
Professor Alshaibi has taught in the School of Art’s Photography, Video and Imaging program since 2006. She recently received the 2023 Betty Parsons Fellowship, supporting a women or female-identified artist, from the Arts Matter Foundation. In 2021, Alshaibi received the Guggenheim Fellowship in photography.
Her experience as an international artist spans museums, galleries, and theaters. Her body of work will be influential in furthering the studio’s mission of creative knowledge generation that illuminates interlocking systems of racialization, including anti-blackness, settler colonialism, and ethnonationalism.
“I am honored to accept this role,” Alshaibi said. “Building on the vital work of the co-founders, RJS endeavors to grow from its aspirational identity towards a platform that champions inclusion, diversity, equity, and arts advocacy within and beyond higher education.”
One of Alshaibi’s first tasks was to oversee the launch of the podcast, Race/Remix.
“Race/Remix directs the power of conversation by joining the voices of creatives and scholars in a dynamic, intimate, and necessary forum,” she said. “Grounded in the spirit of a research university, in which ingenuity and experimentation serve our greater purpose, we challenge ourselves to develop programming and initiatives that lift under-represented voices while understanding everyone has a place in making the arts and academia accessible for all.”
Co-founder Farrar has resumed her full-time work of directing Mapping Q and other community-engagement programs at the University of Arizona Museum of Art. Farrar is confident in the next phase of RJS leadership.
“I am honored to have had the chance to work alongside incredible educators like Drs. gloria wilson and Amy Kraehe. And I am excited for the contributions and critical perspectives that Sama Alshaibi will make and look forward to continuing a close partnership with Racial Justice Studio.”