Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago Appoints Naomi Beckwith as New Curator

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Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago Appoints Naomi Beckwith as New Curator
Naomi Beckwith is currently the Associate Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem. Photo: Paul Mpagi Sepuya.

CHICAGO, IL.- Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago, announced today that Naomi Beckwith has been appointed the new Curator at the MCA. Beckwith is currently the Associate Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem, where she has focused on themes of identity and conceptual practices in contemporary art, artists of African descent, and managing the Artists-in-Residence program. She will assume her new responsibilities at the MCA on May 11, 2011.

"Naomi is an up-and-coming talent in our field who has wide-ranging interests and experiences," says Michael Darling. "Her work at the Studio Museum demonstrates a highly intelligent and complex approach to the art of our time. Her exhibition 30 Seconds off an Inch, in particular, was groundbreaking. As we expand our commitment to artist residencies, Naomi brings great expertise in this area and her scholarship on African-American art will strengthen the MCA's Collection. Naomi is outgoing, confident, and eloquent which makes her a great ambassador for the museum. We are excited to welcome her to Chicago and bring her voice to our programming."

Beckwith said, "As a native Chicagoan, I am delighted to return to this great city and to practice my curatorial craft at this vibrant community and forward-thinking museum. The MCA was formative to my education in contemporary art: from the original galleries on Ontario Street, to the cultural and architectural beacon that it is in its current formation. I very much look forward to working with Madeleine, Michael, and the entire MCA team to shape its future trajectory of major international programming in the visual and performing arts."

At the Studio Museum, Beckwith's most recent projects include Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Any Number of Preoccupations (2010-11) and Zwelethu Mthethwa: Inner Views (2010), two acclaimed exhibitions of work by international artists, as well as 30 Seconds off an Inch (2009-10), a major group exhibition that explored ways in which artists playfully and irreverently engage with black culture, history, and identity in the wake of mid-twentieth-century neo-avant-garde movements.

Prior to her tenure at the Studio Museum, Beckwith was the 2005-07 Whitney Lauder Curatorial Fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, where she worked on numerous cutting-edge exhibitions including Locally Localized Gravity (2007), an exhibition and program of events focused on over 100 artists whose practices are social, participatory, and communal. Beckwith has also been the BAMart project coordinator at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a Helena Rubenstein Critical Studies Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and a guest blogger for Art21. She has curated and co-curated exhibitions at New York alternative spaces Recess Activities, Cuchifritos, and Artists Space.

Beckwith received an MA with Distinction from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, completing her Master's thesis on Adrian Piper and Carrie Mae Weems, and a BA in history from Northwestern University in Illinois. She was a 2009 grantee of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and was named the 2011 Leader to Watch by ArtTable. She serves on the boards of the Laundromat Project (New York) and Res Artis (Amsterdam).

Darling said, "I am honored to lead the MCA's curatorial team and to build on the museum's momentum. I look forward to actively participating in the cultural community of Chicago -- a world-class city with a long-standing appreciation for the vanguard -- and balancing a local perspective with a global outlook. I am excited to advance the MCA's tradition of groundbreaking exhibitions and programming into a 21st-century multidisciplinary museum model."

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