Jessica O’Hearn
BAC Executive Director

How did you arrive at the Brookline Arts Center? What made you interested in joining the BAC as Executive Director?
My family and I moved back to the Boston area in the fall to be closer to family after a very hectic year! As we were getting settled, I was excited to discover the opportunity to work at the BAC. I knew that the Brookline Arts Center would be a great fit because the focus on family, community, and education, aligns perfectly with the focus of my career. It is clear that the BAC is well loved by the greater Boston community, I am so excited to join the team here and lead us through this next chapter.

Tell us about your background. How did you become interested in art?
I have had an interest in art since I was a child. I was always drawing and had very supportive parents who encouraged me to take art classes growing up. This eventually led me to enroll as a fine arts major at the Art Institute of Boston (now LUCAD). I pursued a career as a collaborative printmaker, attending the Tamarind Institute and managing print studios, while maintaining my own studio practice. I was working at the Segura Arts Studio as a collaborative printer when I realized I was more excited about promoting the community-focused mission of the organization than I was about printing or pursuing my personal artistic practice. That’s when my career pivoted more towards arts administration and pursuing a leadership role. In my position as Artistic Director and Curator at the Juliet Art Museum, I loved seeing children, families and artists engage with our art programs and exhibits.

What passions do you bring to the BAC community?
I love collaborating with people! It’s rewarding to work with a team to develop classes, programs, or exhibits that serve the needs of your community and can have lasting impact on their lives and careers. I know how impactful my art experiences were when I was growing up, and I am thrilled that I can be part of a team that strives to do the same thing for families and artists in our community.

What do you enjoy most about the BAC? What are you most looking forward to in this role?
As we find ways to gather safely, I am looking forward to seeing the center filled with students and artists. We have incredible faculty at the BAC and I can’t wait for them to get back to serving their students in-person, and seeing students thrive in a supportive learning environment. I am also excited about the direction of our gallery spaces and am looking forward to future collaborations with curators and artists in greater Boston.

What was your favorite childhood art project?
When I was a teenager, I commuted from my home in New Jersey to Cooper Union in New York City every Saturday to take classes. One of my assignments there was to document a day in my life, so I made a series of drawings documenting every step of my commute. I loved the independence of going into the city to take the class as much as I loved the class itself.

Who are some of your art heroes?
There are so many artists that I admire! But most of my favorite artists are those who have used their work as a tool to connect to and educate their community. I was fortunate to work with Sue Coe and Claudia Bernardi during my work as a collaborative printer. Coe is an activist for animal and human rights, and Bernardi is also a human rights activist who does a lot of work engaging local communities. I also really admire Yinka Shonibare’s work, which made an incredible impact on me when I saw it in person. It was one of my earliest experiences seeing art as a tool for activism by bringing to light issues of historical accuracy and unconscious bias.

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