The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has appointed Valerie Cassel Oliver as its new curator of modern and contemporary art. Upon assuming her position on July 7, Cassel Oliver will oversee the museum’s collection of modern and contemporary art, with a focus on acquiring works by African American and African-diasporic artists.
Cassel Oliver joins the VFMA following a 16-year tenure at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, where she served as senior curator. During that time Cassel Oliver helped curate a number of successful touring exhibits including Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art (2012) and Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image (2008). Cassel Oliver also previously co-curated the 2000 Whitney Biennial, worked as director of the Visiting Artists Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and was a program specialist in charge of administering grants for the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C.
“Valerie is one of the most dynamic and respected contemporary curators in her field,” Alex Nyerges, the VFMA’s director, said in a statement. “She brings an impressive network of contacts from across the arts community, and she has an established record of organizing exhibitions that explore topical themes that resonate with viewers.”
In the same statement, Cassel Oliver said, “There are artists from myriad social and cultural backgrounds who are not fully represented in today’s art world, and we need to ensure their stories are part of the rich narratives we bring to life in our museum. I bring a perspective of inclusivity, and I want to create a context that engages a public that can see itself reflected in the museum. Doing so allows the discussions around art to be broader and only serves to make the entire field stronger.”