Speed Art Museum creates new positions to address equity and inclusion and increase academic engagement

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Speed Art Museum creates new positions to address equity and inclusion and increase academic engagement
Toya Northington. Photo: Courtesy of the Speed Art Museum.

LOUISVILLE, KY.- The Speed Art Museum announced today the establishment of two key roles that will guide the Speed’s ongoing commitment to building connections with community members, local organizations, and peer institutions in Louisville while also expanding its engagement with students and scholars. Toya Northington has been appointed to the newly created role of Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging where she will build on her previous work as the Speed’s Community Engagement Strategist to center equity, inclusion, and access across the institution while ensuring it remains responsive to its local community. Dr. fari nzinga, a respected curator and educator, has been appointed the Speed’s inaugural Curator of Academic Engagement and Special Projects to expand the Speed’s robust program of exhibitions, publications, and learning opportunities.

“Both of these positions are absolutely vital to the Speed’s mission to welcome the community and create long-lasting opportunities for meaningful engagement,” said Speed Art Museum Director Raphaela Platow. “Toya has been instrumental in launching thoughtful and impactful programming and forging relationships with organizations around Louisville so we can broaden our reach and make authentic connections within the community spaces the Speed occupies. As a highly experienced curator and teacher, fari is uniquely positioned to expand the Museum’s academic partnerships, and lead new curatorial initiatives through refreshed gallery displays and interpretation strategies designed to strengthen the Museum’s connection to its visitors and the communities we serve."

Northington, who has been at the Speed since 2019 and currently serves as Interim Director of Education in addition to her community engagement role, has worked tirelessly to deepen the Museum’s connections to the Louisville community. In response to the 2020 racial reckoning and unjust killing of Breonna Taylor, Northington was crucial in helping to spearhead the Speed’s Promise, Witness, and Remembrance exhibition (2021), including forming a local steering committee comprised of BIPOC Louisville community members, expanding the committee to become a permanent advisory body for the institution, and overseeing vital programs and partnerships that have resulted. In this newly created role, Northington will ensure that Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, Inclusion (DEAI) and Belonging are centered in policies and practices across departments at the Museum and throughout its work with the community, serving as a key member of the Speed’s Senior Leadership Team.

“I look forward to building upon my work to center historically marginalized communities and continue to advocate, listen, and create exhibitions and programming that speak to the community to spark institutional and systemic change,” said Northington. “It is especially exciting that in this new role, and in collaboration with my colleagues across the Museum, we can continue to harness the power of art to create restorative spaces that promote inclusion and belonging.”

nzinga, who assumed her role at the Speed on June 9, was most recently a visiting professor and scholar in residence at the bell hooks center at Berea College. She brings experience as a curator, educator, and cofounder of the Color BLOC, an information-sharing network for emerging artists of color. As the Curator of Academic Engagement and Special Projects, nzinga will strengthen the Museum’s scholarly role in the community by creating partnerships, programs, and events that connect academic faculty and students with the Museum’s permanent collection and temporary loan exhibitions. At the same time, nzinga has been tasked with reinterpreting the displays of the Native American and African art collections, bringing them in line with DEAI initiatives and expanding connections to the Museum’s collections, exhibitions, and programs. She has previously held positions at the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and Kalamazoo College, and received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University.

“I appreciate the Speed’s commitment to timely and responsive exhibitions addressing the issues that most deeply impact Louisville’s diverse communities,” nzinga said. “I am especially excited to work with Toya and support the work that she’s already been doing at the Speed. Likewise, I am excited to work within the curatorial department to facilitate the Speed’s engagement with academic partners, produce scholarship, and create meaningful exhibitions and programming that expand the Museum’s reach.”

“We want everyone to see themselves reflected in the Museum,” said Roger Cude, Chair of the Speed’s Board of Trustees. “The Speed and its Boards have made a strong commitment to the diversity, equity and inclusion required to strengthen every aspect of our community. We congratulate these new leaders in joining the team at the Speed to advance our mission of inviting everyone to celebrate art forever.”

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