Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Ashley James named Associate Curator for Contemporary Art
Ashley James is the first Black Curator in Guggenheims 80-year-history! She comes to her new position with an academic background rooted in African American studies, English literature, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. James took up on November 12.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum announces the appointment of Ashley James as Associate Curator, Contemporary Art.
James said, “It is an honor to be joining the Guggenheim, an institution that advances art and culture through rigor and creativity, distinct vision, and a clear commitment to artists. I am eager to begin work with my colleagues to develop new research, explore new ideas for exhibitions, programs, and publications, and continue to expand and shape such a vital collection.”
Nancy Spector, Artistic Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator, said, “Ashley is a curator who has demonstrated incisive and intersectional thinking about contemporary artistic practice. Her work complements the Guggenheim’s mission to present the art of today, which we understand as a deep and expansive view of art history. We are pleased to welcome her to the Guggenheim and anticipate a strong collaboration with Ashley as part of our excellent and dedicated curatorial team.”
Most recently James served as Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum, where she was the lead curator for the museum’s presentation of Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, and organized Eric N. Mack: Lemme walk across the room, and is cocurating the forthcoming John Edmonds: A Sidelong Glance. She played a key role in development, public programs, and acquisitions at the Brooklyn Museum, including helping to bring works by Ed Clark, Arthur Jafa, Taryn Simon, and other key contemporary artists into the collection.
James also served as a Mellon Curatorial Fellow in Drawing and Prints at the Museum of Modern Art, where her work focused on two groundbreaking retrospectives, of Adrian Piper and Charles White, and has held positions at the Studio Museum in Harlem and at the Yale University Art Gallery, where she co-organized the exhibition Odd Volumes: Book Art from the Allan Chasanoff Collection.
She has contributed essays and research for books, magazines, and catalogues, including publications on Charles White, Palmer Hayden, and Howardena Pindell. She has participated in panel discussions and lectures at museums and arts organizations across the United States, and was most recently in conversation with Amy Sherald at an event hosted by ArtTable.
James holds a BA from Columbia University and an MA from Yale University, where, in the spring of 2020, she will receive a PhD in English Literature, African American Studies, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, with a dissertation that reorients discourses of black representation.