Sarah Emerson, Sheila Pree Bright, and Johanthan Bouknight with guest curator Siri Engberg

Each year for the Working Artist Project call for submissions, MOCA GA leadership invites a respected curator from a national institution to select the winning WAP Fellows and to curate the season of exhibitions. The guest curator visits Atlanta and meets with 7-10 finalists through studio visits before selecting three winners.  This process increases the visibility of 80-100 Georgia applicants each year to curators working throughout the nation and showcases the talented breadth of artists working in Atlanta.

Julie Rodrigues Widholm stated, “These awards keep talented artists in Georgia and prevent the mass exodus of artists to NY or Los Angeles that can befall smaller cities.  In addition, awards such as this, with direct financial support to artists, which is critically needed and often overlooked, allow artists to explore new materials, invest in studio spaces, provide solo exhibition opportunities, and connect their work to curators from other cities.”

Joey Orr, WAP 2017/2018

Joey Orr joined the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in 2017 as the Andrew W. Mellon Curator for Research, part of their Integrated Arts Research Initiative. His recent curatorial post was as the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where his major project aligned three exhibitions around artistic inquiry (Chicago Works: Andrew Yang, MCA Screen: Camille Hennrot’s Grosse Fatigue, and Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination). Specifically trained in hybrid and artistic research methods, he received his MA in Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and completed a practice-based, interdisciplinary PhD as an Arts and Sciences Fellow in the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts at Emory University. He recently co-edited “Participatory Research and Visual Methods,” a special issue of Visual Methodologies (Research Methods Lab, Switzerland) and was an associate editor in the inaugural years of the Journal for Artistic Research (Bern, Switzerland). He is currently co-editing “Inhabiting Cultures,” a special issue of the Journal of American Studies (Cambridge University Press). His chapter “Collecting Social Things” will be out in the volume Rhetoric, Social Value, and the Arts in 2017 (Palgrave Pivot), as will his recent interview with artist Suzanne Lacy (Art & the Public Sphere). He is also a founding member of the idea collective, John Q, whose projects explore collaborative notions of public scholarship. In Atlanta, he was the founder of the five-year art-in-community project, ShedSpace, and in the early years of MOCA GA, he worked on such projects as Andrew Ross: Origins and the Georgia 7.

Rene Morales, WAP 2016/2017

René Morales received degrees in Art History from Swarthmore College and Brown University. He has been a curator at the Perez Art Museum Miami—previously known as Miami Art Museum—since 2005. In 2014, he organized the museum’s current collection display Global Positioning Systems. Morales organized three well-received exhibitions for the opening of PAMM in 2013—Amelia Peláez: The Craft of Modernity, A Human Document: Selections from the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, andMonika Sosnowska: Market. Recent exhibitions he has organized include a survey of the work of Miami-based painter Victoria Gitman, a discursive installation by Marjetica Potrc, a project that incorporates live parrots by the Rotterdam-based artist pair Bik Van der Pol, a site-specific sculptural work by Miami-based artist Nicolas Lobo, and a selection of Romare Bearden’s 1964 Photostat works. Morales is currently working on newly commissioned projects with Sarah Oppenheimer and Susan Hiller, as well as a major survey of the work of Dara Friedman. Prior to working at PAMM, Morales worked at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.

Saisha Grayson, WAP 2015/2016

Saisha Grayson, Assistant Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum, New York, came to Atlanta to serve as curator for the 2015/2016 round of artists’ submissions. Ms. Grayson joined the Brooklyn Museum in 2011 as Assistant Curator at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. She received her MA in Contemporary Art and Curatorial Studies from Columbia University and is currently finishing her Ph.D at the Graduate Center, CUNY, where she focuses on contemporary art, feminist theory, and museum practice. She previously taught in the art history department at Queens College, freelance curated around New York, and worked as a communications consultant for a variety of museums and arts institutions.

Siri Engberg, WAP 2014/2015

Siri Engberg, Senior Curator of Visual Arts at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, came to Atlanta to serve as juror for the 2014/2015 round of artists’ submissions. Ms. Engberg has worked as part of the curatorial team since 1990, serving as curator for over 30 Walker-organized exhibitions. Her recent exhibitions include Lifelike, a group exhibition examining notions of hyperreality in contemporary art; and the survey exhibitions From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America; Chuck Close: Self-Portraits 1967-2005; and Kiki Smith: A Gathering, all of which have toured the US. Engberg has authored numerous exhibition catalogues, as well as two Walker-published catalogues raisonnés: one on the prints and books of Edward Ruscha, and the other on the prints of Robert Motherwell. She is currently at work on an upcoming exhibition celebrating the Walker’s 75th Anniversary in 2015.

Franklin Sirmins, WAP 2013/2014

The guest curator in 2013/2014 was Franklin Sirmans, Terri and Michael Smooke Department Head and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). From 2006 to 2010, he was the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Menil Collection in Houston, TX, where he organized exhibitions including NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith, Maurizio Cattelan: Is There Life Before Death, Steve Wolfe: On Paper and Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster, 1964-66. The latter two traveled to LACMA, where Sirmans has also organized the museum’s presentation of Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals, Color and Form, Robert Therrien and Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and the Broad Art Foundation. He also coorganized the exhibition Human Nature: Contemporary Art from the Collection. Sirmans was the 2007 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize awarded by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. He has written extensively for catalogues and articles and reviews in publications such as The New York Times, Time Out New York, Essence, Parkett and Grand Street. He is the artistic director of Prospect.3 New Orleans.

Julia Rodrigues Widholm, WAP 2012/2013

Julie Rodrigues Widholm, Pamela Alper Associate Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA), served as guest curator for this round of artists’ submissions. Rodrigues Widholm recently curated Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks and is currently organizing Colombian artist Doris Salcedo’s first survey exhibition for Fall 2014 at the MCA and is also co-organizing Amalia Pica’s first American solo museum exhibition with MIT List Visual Art Center, Boston. Since joining the MCA in 1999, she has curated group exhibitions such as Escultura Social: A New Generation of Art from Mexico City, which was accompanied by a bi-lingual catalogue, as well as in-depth presentations of the MCA Collection in Constellations: Paintings from the MCA Collection and MCA Exposed: Defining Moments in Photography, 1967-2007. In addition, she has organized solo exhibitions of dozens of Chicago-based artists including most recently Scott Reeder, Laura Letinsky, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung and Cauleen Smith. Rodrigues Widholm holds an M.A. in Modern Art History, Theory and Criticism from The School of the Art Institute in Chicago and a B.A. in Art History and Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Michael Rooks, WAP 2011/2012

Michael Rooks, Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, High Museum of Art served as guest curator for the 2011/2012 round of artists’ submissions. Prior to joining the High Museum of Art as Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Michael Rooks divided his museum career between three organizations in Chicago and Honolulu. During his tenure at The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu and later at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, Rooks introduced new artists to the state of Hawaii through original and traveling exhibitions. At Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Rooks curated numerous solo shows and survey exhibitions including Roy Lichtenstein: Interiors and H. C. Westermann for which he co-authored Westermann’s catalogue raisonné. His thematic exhibitions at MCA include the first major response to the war in Iraq titled War What Is It Good For? Besides his responsibilities at the High, Rooks is the Commissioner of the U.S. Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale of Architecture.

Allison Unruh, WAP 2010/2011

Allison Unruh, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) served as the guest curator for this round of artists’ submissions. Ms. Unruh has curated exhibitions including “Josephine Meckseper: Recent Films,” the upcoming “Heather Rowe: Apportion Your Space (Tenuous Arrangements),” and serves as co-curator of the upcoming exhibition organized by the Indianapolis Museum with the Warhol Museum titled “Andy Warhol Enterprises.” In 2008, she earned her doctoral degree in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, and previously earned her master’s degree in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. Prior to joining the IMA, she worked as a writer for Christie’s Auction House in New York, where she wrote essays on Post-War and Contemporary Art for their catalogues and magazine.

Carter Foster, WAP 2009/2010

Carter Foster, Curator of Drawings, Whitney Museum of Art served as the guest curator for this round of artist submissions. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Carter Foster graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in art history from the University of Georgia and earned his Master’s degree in 1991 from Brown University. After holding positions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the New York Public Library, he joined the staff of the drawing department at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1996 and became its chief in 2002.  While there, he co-curated the first major exhibition of Cleveland’s drawing collection which toured to Houston and New York City among other places, and co-authored the accompanying catalogue. Mr. Foster also added important drawings to the collection, including works by Jasper Johns, Ed Ruscha, Charles Sheeler, Louise Bourgeois, and Ellsworth Kelly.  In 2003, he developed two major exhibitions, Drawing Modern: Works from the Agnes Gund Collection and Jasper Johns: Numbers. Mr. Foster joined the staff of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in early 2004 as Curator and Co-chair of the Department of Prints and Drawings.

Jeffery Grove, WAP 2007/2008

Jeffrer Grove has served as the Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the High Museum of Art from 2005, where he was responsible for the management of the contemporary collection and conceived the inaugural presentation of the Museum’s permanent holdings in its new Renzo Piano–designed expansion. From 2001 to 2004, as Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at The Cleveland Museum of Art, Grove directed the Museum’s post-1945 collection of painting and sculpture and oversaw the development of exhibitions, programs, and scholarly publications. Previously, he was the founding curator of The International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., and held several positions at the Akron Art Museum, from 1995 to 1999, culminating as Curator of Exhibitions. Grove has developed numerous exhibitions and scholarly publications over the course of his career. In addition to After 1968 and Morris Louis Now at the High Museum of Art, other major exhibitions curated by Grove include Michaël Borremans: Drawings (2005-2006) at the Kunstmuseum Basel, MetaScape: Torben Giehler, Benjamin Edwards, Julie Mehretu and Yutaka Sone (2003) at Cleveland, and Liza Lou: Bead the World (2000) at the Akron Art Museum. He has also organized the first solo museum exhibitions in the US for a number of then emerging artists, including Trenton Doyle Hancock, Kelly McLane, and Aernout Mik. Grove received a doctorate in art history from Case Western Reserve University in 1999, a Master of Arts degree in art history and archaeology from the University of Missouri in 1992, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in industrial design from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1985. In 1994, Grove received the College Art Association Professional Development Fellowship Award. He was the recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities in 1996.

Andrea Barnwell-Brownlee, WAP 2007/2008

Andrea Barnwell-Brownlee is an art historian, curator, writer, and the Director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. Brownlee is the recipient of numerous academic, professional, and scholarly awards including a MacArthur Curatorial Fellowship in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Art Institute of Chicago (1998 - 2000), a Future Women Leadership Award from Art Table (2005), and the President's Award from the Women's Caucus for Art (2005). In 2010 she was awarded the inaugural Nexus Award from the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center. Brownlee, an alumna of Spelman College, earned her Ph.D. in Art History from Duke University in 2001. Brownlee, an alumna of the Getty Leadership Institute, is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors. She has served on the boards of several arts organizations including the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences and the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund. In 2008 Brownlee served as the Vice Chair of the City of Atlanta Arts Funding Task Force. Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970, which she curated with Valerie Cassel Oliver, senior Curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in 2007. Exhibitions including iona rozeal brown: a3. black on both sides (2004), Amalia Amaki: Boxes, Buttons and the Blues (2005), Hale Woodruff, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet and the Academy (2007), Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and The Moving Image Since 1970 (2007), and Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons: Dreaming of an Island (2008).