The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has made two major staff changes. After a decade at the museum, Jill Dawsey will be promoted from curator to senior curator, and Isabel Casso will join the institution as assistant curator.
Dawsey is the curator of the museum’s current survey of pioneering Chicana artist Yolanda M. López, who died in September. That exhibition explores how López created some of her most important series, including her reclamation of the Virgen de Guadalupe in various bodies of work, while living in San Diego during the early 1970s.
[Yolanda López’s Guadalupe Triptych ranks as a Defining Artwork of 2021.]
Dawsey is also the co-curator of “Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s,” which she organized with Michelle White at the Menil Collection; that exhibition is currently on view in Houston and will travel to San Diego in April. Other curatorial credits include “Laugh-in: Art, Comedy, Performance” (2015) and “Being Herewith You / Estando aquí contigo: 42 Artists from San Diego and Tijuana” (2018), as well as “The Uses of Photography: Art, Politics, and the Reinvention of a Medium,” which opened in 2016 and explored the networks of conceptual artists working in San Diego between the late ’60s and early ’80s.
In a statement, Dawsey said, “It was such a thrill, ten years ago, to join my hometown contemporary art museum, which played a key role in my education as a young person. It has been a great honor to grow with this institution and to work with the incredible artistic communities of the San Diego-Tijuana region.”
Casso joins the MCA San Diego from the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where she was a curatorial fellow. There, she organized an Alfredo Jaar show and a group exhibition titled “Grain of a Hand: Drawings with Graphite.” She has also held curatorial positions at the MASS MoCA and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
“Jill Dawsey’s intellectual rigor and emotional sensitivity infuse her curatorial practice. Engaging and supportive, she is a valued colleague as well as a true scholar,” said Kathryn Kanjo, the museum’s director and CEO, in a statement. “We are delighted to welcome Isabel Casso, a rising talent with previous stops at SFMOMA and MCA Chicago, whose work with Latinx artists connects well with MCASD’s program. We are excited she is bringing her curatorial practice to our binational community.”