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Naomi Beckwith. Photo: Maria Ponce.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Promotes Naomi Beckwith to Senior Curator

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago has announced that Naomi Beckwith has been promoted to senior curator. The forty-two-year-old museum professional has served as a curator at the institution since 2011. During her tenure at the museum, she has curated solo exhibitions of work by artists Howardena Pindell, Keren Cytter, and William J. O’Brien, among others, and thematic exhibitions such as “The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now” (2015) and “Color Bind: The MCA Collection in Black and White” (2012). She also recently served as a curatorial adviser for the 2018 edition of SITElines, “Casa tomada,” at SITE Santa Fe in New Mexico.

Prior to joining the MCA Chicago, Beckwith worked as associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem from 2007 to 2011. While at the museum, she curated “Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Any Number of Preoccupations” (2010–11), “Zwelethu Mthethwa: Inner Views” (2010), and “30 Seconds Off an Inch” (2009). Previously, she served as the Whitney Lauder curatorial fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; a BAMart project coordinator at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; and a Helena Rubenstein critical studies fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She also curated exhibitions at New York arts spaces such as Recess, Cuchifritos, and Artists Space.

In a 2017 interview in which Beckwith discussed her responsibilities as a curator at the MCA Chicago with Chicago Woman, she said: “I consider my job as acting as a translator between an artist and their audiences. As such, I present artworks and writings in a way that lets artists’ unique and unconventional ideas come to life. At the same time, I have a personal history as a woman of color and I have a perspective as someone from this city, who is interested in the performing arts and international culture. . . . As for diversifying leadership in the field, most institutions realize that if they don’t diversify, they will become irrelevant. Happily, the future is looking bright for anyone who takes the time to study art deeply and develop a voice.”

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