VIA has named MCA Chicago curator Naomi Beckwith as the recipient of its 2017 inaugural Curatorial Fellowship grant. This annual award aims to support visionary curators by providing discretionary funds for the development of their individual curatorial practice, and engages them in an advisory role during VIA’s grantmaking process.
Prior to assuming her role at the MCA Chicago in 2011, Beckwith held positions at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and the Studio Museum in Harlem. She has curated a multitude of exhibitions such as The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now at the ICA in Philadelphia and 30 Seconds off an Inch at the Studio Museum. These exhibitions exemplify Beckwith’s focus on the persistent resonance of black cultural practices across contemporary art internationally.
A champion of rising artists, Beckwith has shown early support for artists such as Rashid Johnson, Jimmy Robert, Keren Cytter, The Propeller Group, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and believes working with living artists to be the greatest advantage of studying contemporary art. In addition to having served on the Jury of the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015, Beckwith frequently contributes to numerous publications such as Frieze and Parkett Magazine. Beckwith, recently named one of Artsy’s 20 most influential young curators in the US, is also a 2017 curatorial fellow with the Center for Curatorial Leadership in New York. A native Chicagoan, Beckwith holds a BA in History from Northwestern University, and an MA with Distinction from the Courtauld Institute of Art.
Given Beckwith’s deep interest in international art and the Black Arts Movement, she intends to use her fellowship monies towards research in the African continent, where she has yet to visit. Mainly through visiting Senegal, and the 2018 Dakar Biennial, Beckwith will travel through northern Africa, an area that has been key to the Negritude movement, where artists such as Yto Barrada have studios. This research trip will allow Beckwith to fill a space in her research that has been a dream of hers for some time.
VIA is proud to support Beckwith and looks forward to her proposed research endeavor.