The Joan Mitchell Foundation (JMF) is based in New York City and has an artist retreat center in New Orleans. I am proud to have partnered with the JMF team on a strategic review process and have continued to keep up with their incredible work. I know the history of how the JMF was founded, but I gained a new perspective a few weeks ago when I excitedly went to visit the recently opened Joan Mitchell exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA). I was immediately struck by the short video that introduces visitors to Joan and her story. The first portion is dedicated to Joan figuring out how she would become an artist. The video then transitions to her later life at her home in France with her dogs and showcases her well-honed art process.
I thought about how Joan’s early story stands proxy for many of us. The early years are about exploring in an attempt to discern what we should do, where we fit in, and how to thread it together. Walking through the exhibit, I was struck by the sheer size and breathtaking beauty of Joan’s work. It is one thing to admire it encased in my various art books and catalogs but another to stand in front of it feeling enveloped. What is more amazing is that Joan became an artist during an era when it was particularly difficult for a woman. She stood firm in her belief that she could and should find her artistic voice and held true to produce some of the most incredible work to be found. If this wasn’t bold enough, in her final days, she made the decision to endow a foundation to support future artists of diverse backgrounds.
Joan’s leadership has made a difference in thousands of lives (artists and the communities in which they live and serve) in the 30 years since she died. We can all learn from Joan’s dedication, confidence, and generosity. My company Looking Forward Lab lives within the larger company Tammy Dowley-Blackman Group, LLC and is dedicated to galvanizing and impacting 1,000,000 leaders over the next decade. We are currently laser-focused on Generation Z, the educational institutions teaching and training them, and the employers beginning to welcome them into the workforce. We know Gen Zers are talented, but like Joan, they need space, early mentoring, and resources to help them grow into their craft. We are excited by our partners who have asked us to create substantive learning solutions for their newest entrants into the workforce while also helping established team members consider how they can be most supportive. We are excited by what they are learning with—and from—one another.
Tammy Dowley-Blackman Group, LLC is a certified National Supplier Development Council Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Small Business Administration (SBA) Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB), and Women’s Business Enterprise Network Council (WBENC) woman-owned company. The company is comprised of a suite of brands, including TDB Group Strategic Advisory, a management consulting firm, as well as Looking Forward Lab, which offers a full-service learning engagement model focused on Gen Z workplace development and support for their managers.