SASKIA WILSON-BROWN – The Institute for Art and Olfaction

SWB_300x400Founder and Executive Director

French by upbringing, Cuban and English by blood and American by birth, Saskia Wilson-Brown obtained her BA at UC Berkeley, and her MA (Fine Art) at Central Saint Martins College in London.

She started her career in music video art department – from PA to production designer – for people like Madonna, Marilyn Manson and Master P. She went on to join the board and eventually serve as festival co-director for Los Angeles’ seminal Silver Lake Film Festival, launching the festival’s visionary new media arm in 2005 (MP4Fest) in addition to curating many of its film, art and music events. In 2007 Saskia was hired at Al Gore’s Current TV to head the newly formed filmmaker outreach & development department. There, she and her team conceived of and spearheaded projects designed to gain new short format documentary content for the network from international filmmakers, while initiating content partnerships on a global scale. She also participated in the production of Emmy-nominated shows like ‘TV Free Burning Man‘.

She went on to work as an independent producer and a film distribution strategist, while producing events around new models in the arts, educational initiatives and screenings (including the Open Video Alliance Filmmaker Summit, several of Lance Weiler’s DIY Days events, and the TEDActive Innovation Lab with Sarah Shewey’s Pink Cloud). She also curated and produced programs such as the bienial art/film extravaganza ‘Ultra Fabulous Beyond Drag’ (2007, 2009), and ‘Cuban Revolutionary Film’ (for Casa Del Tunel in Tijuana, 2010). Further projects and pursuits included programming feature documentaries and serving as a shorts juror for Slamdance Film Festival; advising start-up events such as the Los Angeles Music Video Festival; serving as film juror, advisor and/or panelist for organizations ranging from Gen Art to IFP; and overseeing Transmedia and Distribution for films such as Stephen Gyllenhaal’s Grassroots.

A committed advocate of open information and education in the arts, her writing on the media has appeared in WorkBook Project, Filmmaker Magazine and Hi-Fructose Magazine, and she’s been invited to speak at a number of conferences and festivals (Sundance, DIY Days, Open Video Conference, Power to the Pixel, as an industry mentor at SxSW, amongst others). Her film work has been shown at TED Conference (2010) and at dOCUMENTA (2012), and her visual art work has been shown at institutions such as Dom Omladine in Belgrade and the Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires.

In 2009 she conceived of and started a guerilla screening series called Cinema Speakeasy, which she oversaw with her former Current TV colleague Georgi Goldman. One of the first of its kind, it served as an inspiration for a number of other micro-cinemas & curated screening series in California and beyond. In 2010, the series expanded to San Francisco under the directorial vision of Kate Sullivan Green, Allison Davis and Fhay Arceo. In 2011, CS had a year-long residency in Palm Springs in partnership with the Ace Hotel.

In 2012, her interest in experimental transmedia practices led her to form The Institute for Art and Olfaction, a 501(c)3 non-profit arts organization devoted to experimentation, access and cross-media projects with a focus on scent. As head of the IAO, she has forged relationships with institutions including Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, Getty Center, Getty Villa, SxSW, Goethe Institut, Hammer Museum, Natural History Museum, Huntington Library, Wallace Collection, Otis College, Watts Gallery and many more. In 2013 – with the help of a team of advisors and friends and drawing from her experience with film festivals – she created and launched one of the IAO’s flagship programs: The Art and Olfaction Awards, an international, blindly-judged awards mechanism for independent and artisan perfumers, and experimental practitioners with scent.

Currently spending the majority of her time in her role as Executive Director of the IAO, Saskia nonetheless continues her deep involvement in film and media by consulting for IB5K and serving as (consulting) Director of Operations for the New Zealand-based tech/film distribution company In what spare time she has, Saskia practices her violin (badly), learns songs on her ukelele, travels, and hangs out with her friends as much as possible. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband Micah, her two cats Coco and Kachina, and often (but not often enough) her cool-kid step-daughter, Robyn.

You can contact Saskia at saskia [at]