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Laura Hughes. Photo: Andrew Potter.

MOCAD Announces Laura Hughes as Interim Director

Laura Hughes has been named interim director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), the institution announced yesterday. Hughes fills the void left by the departure of Elysia Borowy-Reeder, who was fired in July following an investigation into allegations of “outright racist behavior” and “exploitative labor practices.”

Hughes, whom the institution cites in a press release as having a passion for social justice, strong ties to the community, and vast experience in the Detroit art scene and the broader art world, joined MOCAD’s board of directors in 2019. She was appointed to the board’s executive committee two months ago but stepped down in order to assume the role of interim director. The founder and principal of Gusto Partners, which aims to create inclusive environments and foster social change, she holds a BA in anthropology from Brown University and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan.

“Laura will move into this role seamlessly and continue to demonstrate great leadership at MOCAD,” said Elyse Foltyn, chair of the institution’s board of directors, in a statement.

MOCAD in October opened a postponed show the Indigenous art collective New Red Order, pledging to implement a land acknowledgment practice, support the establishment of an Indigenous community council, and undertake a list of actionable items to champion staff needs. The museum is continuing a national search for a new director, and is especially interested in BIPOC candidates.

Borowy-Reeder, who claimed that she learned about her firing via a press release, challenged MOCAD on the grounds that it violated her civil rights but reached an agreement with the board.

Correction, December 7: A previous version of this article wrongly stated that Bowory-Reeder was suing MOCAD, which has reached an agreement with the ex-director.

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