Erika Fowler-Decatur of Ithaca, N.Y., a versatile visual arts professional in the private, non-profit, academic and government sectors, recently was appointed as director of Dowd Gallery at SUNY Cortland.
She replaces Bryan Thomas, an Art and Art History Department faculty member who has overseen the gallery on a part-time, interim basis since December 2010. She has been working since mid-June although her official start date is Aug. 1.
Fowler-Decatur has 14 years of experience directing art organizations. She also has an extensive background in planning and curating exhibitions; managing staff, interns and volunteers; grant writing and fundraising; connecting artists with art collectors; designing and implementing museum education programs; and teaching at college, K-12 and pre-school levels.
“I’m looking forward to furthering the multi-layered mission of the Dowd Gallery to serve not only the students of the Art and Art History Department, but also the entire campus and the Cortland community at large,” Fowler-Decatur said.
Her immediate task is overseeing the movement of all Dowd Gallery exhibitions and programs to the third floor of Main Street SUNY Cortland while the Dowd Fine Arts Center undergoes a major renovation during the next couple years.
“The new space is beautiful, and the location at 9 Main Street offers us a remarkable opportunity to connect the campus and Cortland communities,” she said.
Fowler-Decatur previously taught ancient and Early Renaissance art history courses at SUNY Cortland as an assistant visiting faculty member from Fall 2011 to Spring 2012. While on the College’s Art and Art History Department faculty, she served on the Dowd Gallery, Beard Gallery, and Bachelor of Fine Arts committees and was a faculty advisor for undergraduates.
From August 2010 until May 2011, Fowler-Decatur ran Ithaca College’s Handwerker Gallery while its director was on leave. She curated exhibitions, oversaw installations and developed and presented special events such as the Tuesday Salon and Thursdays at the Handwerker series. She also organized receptions, artist talks and a symposium.
Fowler-Decatur was the founder and executive director from 2002 until 2010 of the Art Bar Project - Ithaca Fine Chocolates. The organization had a mission to promote contemporary artists, educate the public about contemporary art and provide an alternative channel of funding for art education. She did this through the sale of organic and fair trade certified chocolate bars that featured an art reproduction on a collectible card inside the wrapper. The Art Bars drew national media attention. Fowler-Decatur planned, curated and installed exhibitions featuring the works of 168 emerging and internationally renowned contemporary artists.
From 1999 to 2001, she was executive director of Visual Aid in San Francisco, which helps artists living with life-threatening illnesses continue their creative work through exhibitions, an art materials voucher program and other career development services.
From 1996 to 1999, Fowler-Decatur served as executive director of San Francisco’s Museo ItaloAmericano, a museum dedicated to the exhibition, preservation and collection of Italian and Italian-American art and the promotion of Italian art and culture. She oversaw the planning of exhibitions, fundraisers and all other museum events. Fowler-Decatur also coordinated adult education programs, including lectures, symposia and Italian language and culture classes.
Additionally, she has experience as an instructor with the Bay Area Discovery Museum and as an education department volunteer with the M.H. de Young Museum, both in San Francisco. Prior to that, she was an education department assistant with the Roberson Museum, Binghamton, N.Y.; a bid and vendor settlement departments assistant with Christie’s in New York City; a restoration assistant of 12th century fortress ramparts at Concordia in St. Sorlin, France; a program assistant with the National Endowment for the Arts, a volunteer with the Fillmore Arts Center and an intern with the Institute for International Education, all in Washington, D.C. As if that wasn’t enough, she also worked as a paralegal and as a secondary schoolteacher of the Italian language.
Fowler-Decatur earned a B.A. in art history from Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. As an undergraduate, she studied Italian language, culture, history and art in Rome, Italy, through the Temple University Abroad program. She has an M.A. in art history from Binghamton University.