Juana Williams named Associate Curator of African American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts

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Juana Williams named Associate Curator of African American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts
Williams most recently worked at Library Street Collective as the Director of Exhibitions and Wayne State University as Adjunct Faculty in Art History.



DETROIT, MICH.- Juana Williams has been named Associate Curator of African American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

Williams most recently worked at Library Street Collective as the Director of Exhibitions and Wayne State University as Adjunct Faculty in Art History. She previously served as the Exhibitions Curator at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Prior to joining UICA, Williams held multiple positions at various art institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the Wayne State University Art Department Gallery, and the Elaine L. Jacob Gallery. She was also the 2021 Art Mile + Independent Curators International Inaugural Curatorial Fellow and is a current fellow of Black Embodiments Studio. She holds a BA in Art and an MA in Art History, both from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

Williams previously worked at the DIA as a research assistant, working with curator Valerie Mercer in support of the 2017 exhibition Art of Rebellion: Black Art of the Civil Rights Movement, which won the Michigan Museum Association’s Peninsula Award in partnership with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Detroit Historical Museum. She joined the DIA on Monday, May 2.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Juana back to the DIA,” said Valerie Mercer, head of the DIA’s Center for African American Art. “Her connections to Detroit, expansive curatorial experience and deep understanding of contemporary African American art will be vital to building and stewarding our extraordinary collection.”

Williams has curated exhibitions at several galleries and museums, presenting a roster of artists at various stages of their careers including Wangechi Mutu, Firelei Báez, Allie McGhee, Devan Shimoyama, Mavis Pusey, and Elizabeth Catlett, to name a few. She recently guest-curated at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, the Detroit Artists Market, and the Grand Rapids Art Museum. She has presented lectures at numerous venues such as Carnegie Mellon University, Central Michigan University, and the Westmoreland Museum of Art. She has also contributed to multiple exhibition catalogs. Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the Wege Foundation, and the Frye Foundation.

Her curatorial practice predominantly focuses on deconstructing cultural and social issues, transgressing traditional boundaries of art criticism and curation, and countering anti-Blackness within the arts. Williams is passionate about engaging communities, elevating diverse voices, and giving a platform to artists for innovative expression. She also persistently advocates for supporting artists and preserving art-centered spaces.

The Center for African American Art at the DIA was established in 2000 as the first curatorial department in the country at an encyclopedic art museum dedicated to the collecting and scholarship of African American artwork. The DIA’s collection includes more than 600 works by African American artists such as Robert Duncanson, Kehinde Wiley, Elizabeth Catlett and Mickalene Thomas.










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