100 Women We Love: Class Of 2019

Jane M. Saks 

Photo by Philip Thomas

Cultural alchemist, arts advocate, creative collaborator, writer, artist and educator Jane M. Saks is hard to pin down, for she’s queerly everywhere at once. She works to challenge and champion issues of gender, sexuality, human rights, race and power within the worlds of arts and culture, politics and civil rights, academia and philanthropy. She’s the founding president and artistic director of Project&, an arts organization that focuses on producing social impact-oriented cultural works, which has collaborated with numerous MacArthur fellows and Pulitzer Prize winners, such as photojournalist Lynsey Addario, playwright Lynn Nottage, and painter Kerry James Marshall, to name just a few. For Saks, her life and her work are an embodiment of queer space. “I can’t talk about my work, life, my life philosophy or the most rewarding aspects of my life without speaking about the rich gift and necessary practice of creating Queer Space and occupying it fully—it is truly a queer life,” she says. Saks has done a lot of everything, from serving on the boards of OTV Open Television and the South African Constitutional Court Artworks and Architecture Committee, to being a judge on the regional panel for the White House Fellows program during the Obama Administration, to lecturing at Yale, Orleans Parish Prisons, and the Whitney Museum of Art. “The most radical and most difficult thing we can do, is to be fully and authentically ourselves—round and round the clock,” she says. “Full Stop. Don’t ever stop” She lives in Chicago with her partner, Emma, and their daughter, Esmé. —AE

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