2019 Curatorial Forum | EXPO Chicago

Image Caption: 2018 Curatorial Forum and Exchange participants at the Graham Foundation.

Curatorial Forum | EXPO CHICAGO
September 18–21, 2019

Closed-Door Sessions
Graham Foundation
Chicago, IL

Developed by EXPO CHICAGO and ICI, the 2019 Curatorial Forum offers a group of mid-career and established curators, working independently or with an institutional affiliation, the opportunity to engage with their peers and explore significant issues relating to curating, programming, institution-building and audience engagement.

The 2019 Curatorial Forum will open with a keynote presentation by Zoe Butt, Artistic Director at The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre in Ho Chi Minh City, for Forum participants, Chicago professionals and other visiting curators, and will feature a series of peer-led, closed-door sessions focused on critical questions relevant to contemporary practice and context. The session topics include “Race, Gender, Representation,” “Architecture,” “Placefulness,” “Accessibility,” and “University Galleries in the Era of Globalized Knowledge.” This Curatorial Forum is a collaboration and ongoing partnership with The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and participation by alumni of the prestigious Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellowship at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in honor of the Fellowship’s 20th anniversary.

Keynote Speaker:
Zoe Butt | Artistic Director at The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre | Ho Chi Minh City

Session leaders include:
C. Ondine Chavoya | Race, Gender, Representation | Professor of Art History and Latina/o Studies, Williams College | Williamstown, MA
Jose Esparza | Architecture | Director of Storefront for Art and Architecture | New York, NY
Sara Raza | Placefulness | Curator at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York, NY
Cara Starke | Accessibility | Director of Pulitzer Arts Foundation | St. Louis, MO
Dominic Willsdon | University Galleries in the Era of Globalized Knowledge | Director of Institute for Contemporary Art, Virginia Commonwealth University | Richmond, VA

Participants of this convening included: Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Chief Curator, Contemporary Art Museum (St. Louis); Brandon Alvendia, Artist, Independent Curator, Educator; Joseph Becker, Associate Curator of Architecture and Design, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Giovanna Borasi, Chief Curator, Canadian Centre for Architecture; Maite Borjabad, Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design, Art Institute of Chicago; Anthony Carfello, Independent Curator; Claire D’Alba, Curator, Art in Embassies, U.S. Department of State; Dina Deitsch, Director and Chief Curator, Tufts University Art Galleries; Don Desmett, Interim Curator, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts; Grace Deveney, Assistant Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Catherine Futter, Ph.D, Director of Curatorial Affairs, Nelson Atkins Museum of Art; Kimberli Gant, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Chrysler Museum of Art; Jia Gu, Director and Curator, Materials & Applications; Mary Heathcott, Executive Director, Blue Star Contemporary; Carmen Hermo, Curator of Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum Associate; Kaytie Johnson, Bruce Kammerling Curator, San Diego History Center; Ross Jordan, Curatorial Manager, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum; Veronica Kessenich, Executive Director, Atlanta Contemporary; Emily A. Kuhlmann, Director of Exhibitions & Curatorial Affairs, Museum of the African Diaspora; Leslie Laird Luebbers, Director, Art Museum of the University of Memphis; Barbara London, Independent Curator; Diana Nawi, Independent Curator; Monica Obinski, Curator of 20th and 21st Century Design, Milwaukee Art Museum Demmer; Meg Onli, Philadelphia Assistant Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art; Marina -Teresa Otero Verzier, Architect and Director of Research, Het Nieuwe Instituut; Heather Pesanti, Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs, The Contemporary Austin Chief; Allison Quinn, Director of Exhibitions and Residencies, Hyde Park Art Center; Wil Ruggiero, Independent Curator; Anne-Claire Schmitz, Director and Curator, La Loge; Claudia Schmuckli, Curator-in-Charge of Contemporary Art and Programming and de Young Museum Curator for Contemporary Art, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Lorelei Stewart, Director, 400 Gallery, University of Illinois at Chicago; Irene Sunwoo, Director of Exhibitions, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; Valentine Umansky, Curator of Lens-Based Arts, Contemporary Arts Center; Max Weintraub, Senior Curator, Aspen Art Museum; Abigail Winograd, MacArthur Fellows Program 40th Anniversary Exhibition Curator, Smart Museum of Art; and Tanya Zimbardo, Assistant Curator of Media Arts, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Support for the 2019 Curatorial Forum is provided by Heritage Auctions; Marjorie and Ambassador Louis Susman/the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Art; the Tremaine Foundation; Willis Towers Watson; and Terry Dowd Incorporated.


September 18, 2019 - September 21, 2019


Zoe Butt

Zoe Butt is a curator and writer based in Vietnam. Her curatorial practice centres on building critically thinking and historically conscious artistic communities, fostering dialogue among countries of the global south. Currently Artistic Director of the Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s first purpose-built space for contemporary art, Zoe formerly served as Executive Director and Curator, Sàn Art, Ho Chi Minh City (2009–2016); Director, International Programs, Long March Project, Beijing (2007–2009); and Assistant Curator, Contemporary Asian Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2001–2007) – this latter post particularly focused on the development of its Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. Her work has been published by Hatje Cantz; ArtReview; Independent Curators International; ArtAsiaPacific; Printed Project; Lalit Kala Akademi; JRP-Ringier; Routledge; and Sternberg Press, among others. Her curatorial projects include interdisciplinary dialogue platforms such as Conscious Realities (2013-2016); the online exhibition Embedded South(s) (2016); and group exhibitions of Vietnamese and international artists at various international venues. Recent exhibitions include Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber - Journey Beyond The Arrow, (2019); Empty Forest: Tuan Andrew Nguyen (2018); Spirit of Friendship and Poetic Amnesia: Phan Thao Nguyen (both 2017); Dislocate: Bui Cong Khanh (2016), Conjuring Capital (2015). Zoe is a member of the Asian Art Council for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and in 2015 was named a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.

C. Ondine Chavoya

C. Ondine Chavoya is Professor of Art History and Latina/o Studies at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. He is the author of numerous texts on Chicano avant-garde art, video, and experimental cinema, and is a leading figure in the field of Latinx art history and visual culture. His curatorial projects have addressed issues of collaboration, experimentation, social justice, and archival practices in contemporary art. Chavoya has organized exhibitions and events including Asco: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective, 1972-1987, the first museum retrospective to present the wide-ranging work of the performance and conceptual art group Asco (2011-2013) with Rita Gonzalez, and Robert Rauschenberg: Autobiography (2016) and Michel Auder: Chronicles and Other Scenes (2004) with Lisa Dorin.

José Esparza Chong Cuy

José Esparza Chong Cuy is the Executive Director and Chief Curator at Storefront for Art and Architecture. Formerly, he was the Pamela Alper Associate Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where he organized solo exhibitions and projects with Jonathas de Andrade, Federico Herrero, Mika Horibuchi, and Tania Pérez Córdova. He is also co-curator of the retrospective exhibition Lina Bo Bardi: Habitat, which is co-organized between MASP in Sao Paulo, the Museo Jumex in Mexico City, and the MCA Chicago. Previously, he was Associate Curator at the Museo Jumex.

Sara Raza

Sara Raza is a curator and writer on global art, and was the winner of the ArtTable New Leadership Award for Women in the Arts (2016). She is currently an independent curator. Sara was most recently the Guggenheim UBS MAP curator for the Middle East and North Africa and curated “But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, (2016), which travelled to the Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milan, (2018).Sara has curated exhibitions and projects for several international biennials, festivals and museums, including Mathaf Arab Modern Art Museum, Doha, Qatar and MacKenzie Art Gallery, Saskatchewan, Canada. She has also curated the Tashkent Biennial, Uzbekistan and “Rhizoma: Saudi Pavilion, Venice Biennale (2013); and the Baku Public Art Festival Azerbaijan (2015). She has organized a number of exhibitions for Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah. Formerly, Raza was the head of education at Yarat, Baku, Azerbaijan, founding curator at Alaan Art Space, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and curator of public programs at Tate Modern, London. Sara is the West and Central Asia editor for ArtAsiaPacific and lives and works in New York where she runs her own independent global curatorial and visual cultures studio practice “Punk Orientalism.”

Cara Starke

Cara Starke is Director of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis. Previously, she served as Director of Exhibitions at Creative Time, where she realized ambitious public art exhibitions in locations from Central Park to the Domino Sugar Factory, with artist commissions including Kara Walker, Xenobia Bailey, Simone Leigh, Otabenga Jones & Associates, Bradford Young, Suzanne Lacy, Nick Cave, Spencer Finch, Alicia Framis, Nina Katchadourian, Ragnar Kjartansson, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, David Levine, Karyn Olivier, Lauri Stallings, Trevor Paglen, and Tom Sachs. Prior to Creative Time, Starke was Assistant Curator at the Museum of Modern Art, where she organized and collaborated on exhibitions with artists Francis Alÿs, Pipilotti Rist, Olafur Eliasson, Mark Boulos, Dinh Q. Lê, William Kentridge, Doug Aitken, and Douglas Gordon. Starke holds degrees in art history from Williams College and Cornell University.

Dominic Willsdon

Dominic Willsdon is an educator and curator. He is the Director of the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where he is also associate professor in art education. He was formerly Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Practice at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a Pedagogical Curator of the 9th Mercosul Biennial (2013) and a Co-Curator of the 9th Liverpool Biennial (2016), and Curator of Public Programs at Tate Modern (2000-2005). Recent curatorial projects include Public Knowledge (2016-19) and Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here (2019). Recent publications include Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good (MIT, 2016).

Independent Curators International (ICI)

Independent Curators International (ICI) supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement. Curators are arts community leaders and organizers who champion artistic practice; build essential infrastructures and institutions; and generate public engagement with art. Our collaborative programs connect curators across generations, and across social, political and cultural borders. They form an international framework for sharing knowledge and resources — promoting cultural exchange, access to art, and public awareness for the curator’s role.


EXPO CHICAGO, The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art features leading international galleries alongside one of the highest quality platforms for contemporary art and culture. Hosted within historic Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, EXPO CHICAGO presents a diverse program, including /Dialogues (presented in partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and Exchange by Northern Trust, an unrivaled talks program for both public and VIP audiences; IN/SITU, dynamic on-site installations highlighting large-scale sculpture, film, and site-specific work; and major public art initiatives, including IN/SITU Outside, public art installed throughout Chicago Park District locations, and OVERRIDE | A Billboard Project, a curated selection of international artists throughout the city’s digital billboard network. The EXPO CHICAGO program also features an unprecedented commitment to host curatorial initiatives during the exposition, including the Curatorial Forum in partnership with Independent Curators International (ICI), and the Curatorial Exchange, which partners with foreign agencies and consulates to expand the exposition’s global reach. EXPO CHICAGO is the publisher of THE SEEN, Chicago’s only international journal of contemporary and modern art criticism, distributed throughout the United States and Europe.

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