THE WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART announced the appointment of Rujeko Hockley as assistant curator. For the past four years she has been at the Brooklyn Museum where she is assistant curator of contemporary art. Hockley starts at The Whitney on March 6.

“I am thrilled to be transitioning from one incredible world-class institution to another. I am looking forward to working with a fantastic team of colleagues and an unparalleled permanent collection, advancing The Whitney’s vital mission at this exciting moment in its history,” Hockley said in the announcement.

“I am looking forward to working with a fantastic team of colleagues and an unparalleled permanent collection, advancing The Whitney’s vital mission at this exciting moment in its history.” — Curator Rujeko Hockley

WITH A FOCUS ON modern and contemporary art, her interests span conceptual and other avant-garde practices, social movements, and the African diaspora. During her tenure at the Brooklyn Museum, Hockley has worked on many exhibitions and related programming, including solo shows featuring LaToya Ruby Frazier, Kehinde Wiley, and Tom Sachs. In 2014, she co-curated “Crossing Brooklyn: Art from Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond,” and organized the installation of “African Boy Attendant Curio (Bananas)” by Kara Walker in 2015.

She is co-curating an important forthcoming exhibition, “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85,” which opens in April. In a recent interview with Essence magazine, Hockley described the exhibition.

“It looks at Black and brown women artists in relationship to second-wave feminism, and narratives not only around art production but also political action and social movements,” she said. “We’re also reproducing original texts from the period that we feel are either just incredibly influential to this conversation or haven’t been seen very often. One of them is this conversation that Audre Lorde and James Baldwin had in a 1984 issue of Essence in which they talk about Black men and women and their differences and similarities.”

Hockley has worked with the Brooklyn Museum’s collection and been involved with the Contemporary Art Acquisitions Committee. She has also moderated public discussions with artists, and contributed to exhibition catalogs and art publications. She serves on the boards of Art Matters and Recess. She began her career as a curatorial assistant at the Studio Museum in Harlem and has also worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego.

Born in Zimbabwe, Hockley grew up in Washington, D.C., from the age of two. When it was time to attend college, she headed to New York where she earned a B.A. in art history from Columbia University. She is a Ph.D. candidate in art history, theory and criticism at the University of California, San Diego.

A course at Columbia introduced her to art history and helped crystallize a career path that merged her interests. “We talked about manifest destiny, slavery, genocide of native populations—and we talked about all of this in relation to American art in the 18th and 19th centuries,” Hockley told Essence. “That was a really profound moment for me, because I’ve always been interested in issues of race, gender and equity.”

“We talked about manifest destiny, slavery, genocide of native populations—and we talked about all of this in relation to American art in the 18th and 19th centuries. That was a really profound moment for me, because I’ve always been interested in issues of race, gender and equity.”
— Curator Rujeko Hockley told Essence

In 2015, Hockley made artnet News’s global list of 25 Women Curators Shaking Things Up and she was among Cultured magazine’s 10 Young Curators to Watch in 2016. Her departure from the Brooklyn Museum comes one week after news that another young curator, Connie H. Choi, is leaving the institution. Choi has accepted an associate curator position at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

At The Whitney, Hockley’s hiring was announced in conjunction with Marcela Guerrero, who is also joining the museum as an assistant curator. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Guerrero is currently a curatorial fellow at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Scott Rothkopf, deputy director for programs and chief curator at The Whitney noted that both Hockley and Guerrero would be great assets to the museum: “They add a wide range of knowledge and new field-specific expertise to the Whitney’s curatorial team. Their scholarly acumen is matched by a frontline commitment to emerging artists, and I have no doubt their contributions to the Whitney’s program and collection will help broaden and reshape our narratives of the art of the United States, both past and present.” CT

 

TOP IMAGE: Curator Rujeko Hockley. | Photo by by Jonathan Dorado, Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art

 

The 2017 Whitney Biennial opens March 17, with Lyle Ashton Harris, Deana Lawson, Pope.L, Cauleen Smith, and Henry Taylor featured among the 63 participants. Currently on view through Feb. 12, “Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection” presents more than 300 works from the museum’s holdings by artists including Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Dawoud Bey, Barkley L. Hendricks, Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, and Alison Saar, among many, many others.