$1.25 million grant for Chinati Foundation will support restoration projects, job training for West Texas women

A #StartSmall grant of $1.25 million to Chinati Foundation will fund crucial restorations — and strive to train young West Texas Women in grassland and adobe conservation.

Courtesy of Chinati Foundation

MARFA – The Chinati Foundation this week announced multiple new restoration initiatives that will focus on the Chamberlain Building, its exposed adobe walls and the native grasslands that surround Chinati Foundation’s property. Much of the restoration work will be completed with the help of a $1,250,000 grant from #StartSmall, which will also support a living wage of $15 an hour for Chinati interns and promote the recruitment and education of young Far West Texas women into adobe and land conservation practices.

#StartSmall is a philanthropic initiative by Jack Dorsey, the CEO of the social media site Twitter. Last year, the CEO donated $1 billion of his wealth to fund global COVID-19 relief, girls health and education, and efforts towards universal basic income. The grant awarded to Chinati Foundation will support priority projects identified in Chinati’s 2017 master plan, with a focus on restoration projects and job training for local women.

This week, Chinati announced a massive restoration project on the Chamberlain Building, the home of the foundation’s first ever exhibition, which opened in 1983. One year earlier Donald Judd wrote, “Permanent installations and careful maintenance are crucial to the autonomy and integrity of art, to its defense, especially now when so many people want to use it for something else.”

With nearly 40 years of wear since, its restoration is now underway and is expected to finish in Spring 2022. Alongside those fixes, the #StartSmall grant will be used to tackle a related project, the restoration of Judd’s distinctive exposed adobe walls.

The exposed adobe walls Judd put up on the northwest of the Chamberlain Building are notable for their use of adobe bricks and concrete mortar. Over the decades since their construction, those have deteriorated in the desert weather, and as Chinati works to restore them, they will also begin a concerted effort to bring in and train young Far West Texas women in the practice of adobe restoration, with a particular focus on developing specialized skills to restore Judd’s unique use of adobe and concrete.

The third restoration effort on the foundation’s slate is that of the grasslands and riparian corridor that border Chinati’s grounds, along with preservation of the extensive plantings Judd established at Chinati. As envisioned by Judd, Chinati’s environment was an integral context for the art and architecture sited on the grounds, while also providing an essential habitat for local and migrating wildlife. With support from #StartSmall, Chinati’s project to preserve and protect the land will become a hands-on initiative to train young women from the region in grassland conservation, range ecology and land management.

In addition to restoration projects, #StartSmall will be giving a boost to those who are early in their careers on the Chinati grounds. Chinati’s internship program, which began in 1990, has long offered stipends and housing for those who arrive to learn and experience working in the art world. Now with the help of the grant, Chinati will provide interns a $15 hourly wage, in addition to housing and full benefits. Particular outreach for interns will also focus on recruiting young women of color to the program, who have historically been underrepresented in the field of arts administration.

“#StartSmall’s grant is transformational support for our mission to preserve and present what Judd created at Chinati, an institution integral to Marfa and Far West Texas,” said Chinati Director Jenny Moore. “It enables us to approach crucial restoration projects in a way that builds partnerships and opportunities, particularly for young women in our local Marfa and broader art communities.”


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