Jessica Bell Brown to head the Baltimore Museum of Art's Contemporary Art Department

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Jessica Bell Brown to head the Baltimore Museum of Art's Contemporary Art Department
Jessica Bell Brown, photo by Michael Avedon.

BALTIMORE, MD.- The Baltimore Museum of Art today announced Jessica Bell Brown has been named as Curator and Department Head for Contemporary Art. In this role, she will lead a department comprising two associate curators, two curatorial assistants, and one fellow, as well as manage the rapidly growing collection and presentations of the art of our time. Brown came to the BMA in November 2019 as an Associate Curator for Contemporary Art.

“Since joining the BMA, Jessica has positioned artists’ voices at the core of her curatorial work, creating new platforms to experience art as envisioned by its makers and bridging institutional and artistic visions and approaches. Her vision, keen insights, and commitment to artists will be integral as the BMA continues to diversify its collections and expand the narratives of art through its exhibitions and programs,” said Asma Naeem, Interim Co-Director and The Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Chief Curator.

Brown has co-curated two major projects during her tenure at the BMA. A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration is a nationally traveling exhibition with newly commissioned works by 12 acclaimed artists exploring the profound impact of the Great Migration on the social and cultural life of the United States from historical and personal perspectives. Co-organized with Ryan N. Dennis (she/her), Mississippi Museum of Art (MMA) Chief Curator and Artistic Director of the Center for Art and Public Exchange, A Movement in Every Direction debuts at the MMA on April 9 and opens in Baltimore on October 30. The ambitious project also encompasses a two-volume publication that includes a critical reader highlighting pivotal scholarly work around aspects of the Great Migration—from the shaping of American cities to its impact on Black spirituality, music, art, food, and culture—and a second volume capsule presentation of exhibition content with newly commissioned essays by leading scholars. In 2021, Brown co-organized with BMA Associate Curator of Contemporary Art Leila Grothe a complete reinstallation of the museum’s contemporary art galleries titled How Do We Know the World? that highlights an expansive range of voices and centers on the ways artists engage with the historic, social, political, and environmental constructs that shape our world. Other BMA exhibitions include Stephanie Syjuco: Vanishing Point (Overlay) (2021) co-curated with Grothe, and Thaddeus Mosley: Forest (2021-22).

Prior to joining the BMA, Brown served as the Consulting Curator at Gracie Mansion Conservancy in New York, where she curated She Persists: A Century of Women Artists in New York, 1919-2019 with First Lady Chirlane McCray. Previously, she held roles at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Creative Time. Brown holds an M.A. in Art History from Princeton University and a B.A. in Art History from Northwestern. Her writing has appeared in various publications including Flash Art, Artforum, Art Papers, Hyperallergic, and The Brooklyn Rail.

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