Sol LeWitt’s Curator Janet Passehl Interviewed by AIM Higher, Inc.

Janet Passehl

Love Letter 7, 2022, handwoven cotton, aluminum, string

Love Letter 7, 2022, handwoven cotton, aluminum, string

First Book of Gravity, 2022, watercolor and tempera on paper, collaged text, butcher's string, cloth, conservation weights (brass, lead shot); paper

First Book of Gravity, 2022, watercolor and tempera on paper, collaged text, butcher’s string, cloth, conservation weights (brass, lead shot); paper

Visual Artist & Poet Janet Passehl Talks About Her Job, Work, and Life

It’s a colossal job, a body of over twelve-thousand works of art made by or collected by Sol LeWitt. If we were a museum, I’d be all the departments!”

— Janet Passehl

WEST HURLEY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES, June 29, 2023/ — AIM Higher is pleased to announce the publication of an interview with Janet Passehl, a visual artist, author, and Sol Lewitt’s long-time curator. Ms. Passehl’s work has been exhibited at museums and galleries in Europe, Australia, New York, and New England. She was Sol LeWitt’s Curator for seventeen years during his lifetime and remains the curator of his private art collection.

Passehl explained, “It’s a colossal job, a body of over twelve-thousand works of art made by or collected by Sol LeWitt. If we were a museum, I’d be all the departments! It was an almost unfathomable privilege to witness up close the practice of such a brilliant and successful artist and get to know his work so intimately. The job has also given me some important friendships, and directly and indirectly led to exhibition opportunities for my work.”

Ms. Passehl’s work is presently focused on hand-woven plain cloth works that she describes as “collaborations among material, light, space, gravity, time, duration, nuance, and attentiveness. Thread entanglements, breakages, variances in tension, the vagaries of my second-hand loom, and my own body and mind are reflected in the form, surface, and posture of the final pieces.” In addition, Passehl creates hand-made single poem books that merge visual art and language and is the author of a full-length poetry collection “Clutching Lambs,” published by Negative Capability Press.

Passehl’s cloth works were recently featured in “Allegro/Adagio,” a two-person installation at Tibaldi Arte Contemporanea in Rome, and as part of Salon Zürcher’s Women of Spirit series in Manhattan. The latter, curated by Gwenolee Zurcher, takes as inspiration the 18th-century French term “Femmes d’esprit,” which referred to female painters, writers, and intellectuals, routinely under-recognized by their male contemporaries and the public.

Passehl states, “Early on I felt that being female, I was released from having to hew closely to received forms and strategies espoused in a male-dominated field. I instinctively perceived my practice as aligned with that of women working in the 1960’s, ’70’s, and early ’80’s whose work was highly original and self-determined.” She prefers to be called an artist rather than a woman artist, however, because the latter “implies that male artists are the norm and the default. Women are a sub-group. Until women can just be referred to as artists, we won’t have equality. Language is powerful.”

AIM Higher Inc. recently widened its mission to include serving artists of all genders, rather than solely women artists. Executive Director Lissa Kiernan states “Though women have historically been denied the opportunities male artists have enjoyed, we ultimately did not wish to exclude anyone who could benefit from our services. It felt more radical to us to move forward and to be more inclusive, rather than look back in an attempt to settle the score or flip the script. It was synchronous that Ms. Passehl unwittingly provided validation of the revised scope of our mission just as we had decided upon it.”

Passehl’s job as Lewitt’s curator still involves the storage, maintenance, and conservation oversight of the twelve-thousand objects, as well as facilitating loans to museum and gallery exhibitions, research by visiting curators and art historians, overseeing photography, scanning and interpreting thousands of pieces of archival material, and responding to myriad outside inquiries. She also consults on the restoration of LeWitt’s works in collections around the world and gives lectures, interviews, and gallery talks.

Despite the scope of her job and her success as an artist, she says, “What’s different about my definition of ambition now is that it’s both more determined and mellower than when I was younger. Funny to think about now but when I was young I thought I might become an art star, which was a thing in the 80’s and 90’s. Now I realize that there are as many ways to have an art career as there are artists and that my career would develop through a network of warm and respectful personal relationships. I’m no longer looking for stardom so much as solid recognition. And I’ve learned to trust the process, both in terms of developing the work itself and in terms of career.”

To read the full interview, please visit

About AIM Higher, Inc.

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