The Wadsworth hires curators to boost collection research and interpretation

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The Wadsworth hires curators to boost collection research and interpretation
David E. (Ned) Lazaro, Associate Curator of Costume & Textil.

HARTFORD, CONN.- The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art has appointed two new members to its curatorial team who will research and interpret key areas of the centuries-old collection: David E. (Ned) Lazaro as Associate Curator of Costume & Textiles and Hamid Hemat as Hartford HealthCare Curatorial Fellow.

"The additions of these two positions, and specifically these two curators, to the Wadsworth’s team has increased our capacity to understand our vast collections and interpret them in new and inspiring ways,” says Matthew Hargraves, Director of the Wadsworth.

As Associate Curator of Costume & Textiles, Lazaro researches, manages, and interprets a collection of about 2,500 textile objects and 5,000 costume and accessories ranging in time from Coptic to Contemporary, in size from thimbles to tapestries, and representing every continent.

As Hartford HealthCare Curatorial Fellow, Hemat works with the Wadsworth’s curators on independent and collaborative projects designed to propel broader conceptual thinking about collections and interpretation. He brings a global perspective to the Wadsworth’s encyclopedic collection, with a facility for sharing cross-cultural insights with the public.

“Supporting the visual and performing arts is a key component of our commitment to revitalize downtown Hartford,” said Gerry Lupacchino, SVP of Human Experience at Hartford HealthCare. “We are delighted to collaborate with the Wadsworth in naming this important curatorial position. In alignment with our commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we believe there are hundreds of stories untold that will come forward as a result of Hemat’s focus and expertise.”

Hemat is developing a proposal for an exhibition of Islamic art from the Wadsworth’s collection that connect Western and Eastern cultures. His research includes Islamic objects from the ninth century to today. He is also serving as cocurator of Styling Identities: Hair’s Tangled Histories and directing video projects for the 2024 exhibition.

“The Wadsworth represents thousands of years of history from all around the world in its encyclopedic and diverse collections and beyond the great works of art it is a welcoming and inclusive museum,” Hemat said. “Anyone who comes to Wadsworth can find a piece of history related to their culture and experience.”

Lazaro is leading the work of cataloguing and inventorying the Wadsworth’s costume and textile collections and organizing installations and exhibitions. Lazaro will also present public programs and support the museum’s Follow the Thread fundraising campaign to ensure the department’s ongoing work.

“Understanding and documenting what we have and making that information available to the public on our online database and in our galleries is vital to connecting with the public, researchers, and peers in the field across the globe,” Lazaro said. “The synergy and possibilities between art and fashion are many and allow for new ways of thinking about both.”

Lazaro has contributed to current exhibition projects including Alexander Calder: Collaborative Creations (on view through June 4) and Relax! Leisure and Style (on view through July 23). He is currently working on an exhibition of gowns worn by noted contralto Marian Anderson, as well as a reintroduction of the Wadsworth’s important seventeenth-century French Cupid and Psyche tapestries.

Before joining the Wadsworth, Lazaro was Curator of Textiles at Historic Deerfield in Deerfield, Massachusetts. He has researched, lectured, published, and taught about various aspects of Western clothing and textiles from the seventeenth through twentieth centuries. His general interests focus on design history, the aesthetics of fashion, and identity formation. His publications have covered topics including eighteenth-century, drawloom-woven silks; nineteenth-century hoop skirts; the tailoring and dressmaking trades; and the influence of Dior’s 1947 New Look in New England. Current research includes seventeenth-century fashion, late 1950s styles, and twenty-first-century fashion. Lazaro holds a master’s degree in fashion and textile history and a bachelor’s degree in fashion and apparel marketing, both from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Hemat holds a master of visual arts degree and a BFA, both from Kabul University, Afghanistan, and attended the master of cultural policy and management program at the University of Arts, Belgrade, Serbia. He has managed teams of curators, craftspeople, and community stakeholders in Kabul, Balkh, Heart, and Bamiyan to support artisans and present exhibitions, conferences, and events to promote cultural awareness and advocacy. He has worked for Turquoise Mountain as a Project Manager for Afghanistan and has supervised creative teams for TV channels seen across Afghanistan. He is trained in design, photography, and art management.

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