THE CHRYSLER MUSEUM OF ART in Norfolk, Va., announced the appointment of Kimberli Gant as curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. She joins a succession of young black women who have accepted prestigious curatorial appointments at important institutions across the country this year.
“With her bold vision, international perspective, scholarship, and verve, Kimberli Gant will be a valuable addition to the Chrysler Museum’s outstanding curatorial team. She brings strong academic credentials and a breadth of professional experience,” said Erik Neil, director of the Chrysler Museum, in a statement.
Gant is completing her Ph.D. in art history at the University of Texas at Austin and currently serves as the Mellon Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Arts of Global Africa at the Newark Museum, in Newark, N.J. Her tenure at the Chrysler Museum begins in mid-January, after her fellowship concludes.
“I love that Chrysler is a part of a growing visual arts community in Norfolk and Hampton Roads,” Gant said in a statement. “I’m really looking forward to bringing a new perspective to these objects and producing some exciting exhibitions.”
“I love that Chrysler is a part of a growing visual arts community in Norfolk and Hampton Roads. I’m really looking forward to bringing a new perspective to these objects and producing some exciting exhibitions.”
— Curator Kimberli Gant
Gant has a healthy exhibition portfolio, lectures regularly and has contributed to a number of catalogs. Earlier this year, she co-curated “Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam Through Time & Place” at the Newark Museum. From 2005-2010, she served as curator of exhibitions and public programs at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn, N.Y. In addition to curating exhibitions, she established a high school and college internship program and graduate school curatorial fellowship at MoCADA.
After earning an undergraduate degree in art history from Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., and a master’s degree in art history from Columbia University, Gant decided to continue her academic career. She is pursuing a doctorate in art history and concluding her studies with a dissertation titled, “Eko o ni baje (May Lagos Be Indestructible): Photographic Depictions of Lagos, Nigeria.”
The appointment of Gant at the Chrysler Museum, comes on the heels of other key appointments this year. Naima J. Keith joined the California African American Museum in Los Angeles as deputy director. Jamillah James was named curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., hired Lauren Haynes as curator of contemporary art. Nicole J. Caruth is artistic director at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation in Charlotte, N.C. Camille Ann Brewer was appointed the first-ever, full-time curator of contemporary textile art at the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. Meg Onli was named assistant curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA Philadelphia).
In addition, Adrienne Edwards at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis Minn., and Isolde Brielmaier at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Spring, N.Y., have taken on curator at-large roles. Many among the new appointments have been featured on various lists of influential young curators in the art world.
A NUMBER OF CHANGES ARE AFOOT at the Chrysler Museum. In 2014, the museum reopened after undertaking a major expansion, adding to its gallery space. Neil also joined the institution that year as director and president. Earlier this year, Lloyd DeWitt was named chief curator of the museum. The Chrysler is also building on its collection of more than 30,000 objects.
Gant’s new position includes overseeing the study, care, interpretation, and presentation of the museum’s collection of modern and contemporary art. The holdings feature works by a number of African American artists Benny Andrews, Beverly Buchanan, Nick Cave, Elizabeth Catlett, Robert Colescott, Barkley L. Hendricks, Whitfield Lovell, Bob Thompson, Kehinde Wiley, and Hale Woodruff, among them. Photographers represented include Gordon Parks, Dawoud Bey, Roy DeCarava, and Ernest Withers, whose images were featured in “Women and the Civil Rights Movement,” an exhibition on view at the museum through October. Last year, the museum acquired the 1965 painting, “Portrait of James Baldwin,” by Beauford Delaney.
Neil said: “In overseeing our artworks from the mid- 20th century to today, Kimberli’s research and interpretation will only underscore the strength, depth, and quality of a remarkable collection. CT
IMAGES: Top, Curator Kimberli Gant. | Courtesy Chrysler Museum of Art. Above, left, BEAUFORD DELANEY (American, 1901–1979), “Portrait of James Baldwin,” 1965 (oil on canvas). | Museum purchase, 2015.28, Image © Estate of Beauford Delaney, used by permission. Courtesy Chrysler Museum of Art
READ a Q&A with Kimberli Gant about her doctoral studies and Mellon Foundation Fellowship