HARVARD ART MUSEUMS announced the appointment of Horace D. Ballard, who will serve as Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. Associate Curator of American Art. Ballard arrives from the Williams College Museum of Art, where he is curator of American art. His Harvard appointment is effective Sept. 1.

“Horace’s scholarship and curatorial vision, combined with his experience in engagement and teaching at academic museums, make him an ideal addition to our team at a critical moment,” Harvard Art Museums Director Martha Tedeschi said in a statement.

“My colleagues and I are excited to welcome him and look forward to working together closely on the ongoing rethinking and reframing of our galleries and collections, with the goal of presenting new perspectives on the definition of American art for the 21st century.”

 


Curator Horace D. Ballard specializes in the art and visual cultures of the United States as well as 17th- and 18th-century art of the British, Portuguese, and Spanish colonies in the Americas. His research interests include the history of photography, 18th- and 19th-century portraiture of the Atlantic World, artists Thomas Eakins and Benjamin West, and the material and visual cultures of religion. | Photo by Jeneene Chatowsky

 

BALLARD JOINED the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA), in Williamstown, Mass., as assistant curator (2017-19) and rose to curator of American art. He also teaches, serving as affiliate faculty of the joint graduate program in the history of art at Williams and Clark Art Institute, which is nearby.

During his tenure at WCMA, Ballard has curated six exhibitions including “Landmarks” (2020), a survey that considered “how human beings have used photo processes to orient and define themselves in relation to the natural and built environment”; “James Van Der Zee: Collecting History” (2019); “possible selves: queer foto vernaculars” (2018–19); and “Sam Gilliam In Dialogue” (2018).

Forthcoming projects include “To Shape a Moon from Bone” (2022), a posthumous survey of sculptor Mary Ann Unger (1945-1998), and The Emancipation Project (1863–2023), which Ballard is co-organizing with Maggie Adler at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas.

Previously, Ballard held positions at the historic site Monticello/Thomas Jefferson Foundation; as curator of education at the Birmingham Museum of Art; educator at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum;
at Yale University Art Gallery; and the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia.

“My colleagues and I are excited to welcome (Horace Ballard) and look forward to working together closely on the ongoing rethinking and reframing of our galleries and collections, with the goal of presenting new perspectives on the definition of American art for the 21st century.”
— Harvard Art Museums Director Martha Tedeschi

BALLARD BRINGS a unique academic background to his curatorial practice. He received dual B.A.s in English literature and American studies from the University of Virginia (2006); an M.A.R. in religion and visual culture from the Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School (2010), and also holds M.A. (2012) and Ph.D. (2017), degrees in American studies and American visual culture from Brown University.

The Harvard Art Museums is a collective of three museums and four research centers whose holdings together number about 250,000 objects across mediums; span ancient times through the Middle Ages and the modern era to the present; and represent American, European, Asian, Mediterranean, Near Eastern, Islamic, and later Indian art.

A curator, professor, and theologian, Ballard is joining the Harvard Art Museums Division of European and American Art, where he will oversee the collection of pre-20th-century American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts and work with colleagues across the museums on exhibitions and acquisitions. He will also identify collaborative opportunities with other Harvard entities, including academic programs in American and African American studies and the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology.

“I believe in the capacious potential of academic museums to refine the ethics of our attention,” Ballard said in a statement.

“The Harvard Art Museums have long been a laboratory for innovative, multidisciplinary approaches to the material and visual cultures of human civilization. I spent time in the collections as a graduate student, and I experienced firsthand the power of art to incite empathy, wonder, and sociopolitical change. The field of American art is in a period of reckoning and reflection; I am thrilled to be joining the Harvard Art Museums at such an exciting moment.” CT

 

FIND MORE Horace D. Ballard was recently in conversation with curator Antwaun Sargent at the American Folk Art Museum in New York. Watch here

 

BOOKSHELF
To learn more about Harvard’s museums and related curriculum, consider “The Art of Curating: Paul J. Sachs and the Museum Course at Harvard” and “Harvard’s Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting.” From Harvard University Press, “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration” by Nicole R. Fleetwood, was recently published.

 

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