Sarah Umles is an arts administrator, independent curator, conceptual artist and avid collector. She earned her MA in Arts Administration and Policy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and a BA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside. As the Academic Affairs Manager at CalArts, Sarah supports academic leadership, facilitates faculty professional development, and manages grant programs that fund the creative endeavors of CalArts faculty and students. She is actively involved in Staff Council and the Equity & Diversity Committee.
Prior to joining the Office of the Provost at CalArts, Sarah served as the Administrative Director of the Department of Contemporary Practices at SAIC, supporting an innovative interdisciplinary curriculum. From 2011 until 2015, Sarah worked as one half of Casa Duno, a curatorial collaboration whose practice focused on highlighting the work of emerging local artists through temporary exhibitions in alternative spaces around Chicago. In 2018, Sarah founded the Residency Project @ 880 with programs aimed at fostering the research of early and mid-career artists.
As an interstitial artist, Sarah situates her practice in the spaces between curatorial practice, interactive installation, and relational aesthetics. Themes of continued interest include how we assign meaning to objects, how objects serve as mediators in our interactions with others, and how, through our relationships with spaces and things, we begin to understand ourselves and the world around us. Her work has been shown in the context of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, UCR/California Museum of Photography, 2nd Floor Rear, BoldPas, and California Institute of the Arts.