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March 7, 2018

Yesomi Umolu Named Artistic Director of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS—The Chicago Architecture Biennial and Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel announced on March 6 the appointment of Yesomi Umolu as artistic director of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, the third edition, will be held September 19, 2019 to January 5, 2020. Todd Palmer, executive director of the 2017 edition, will remain in that position.

“I am honored to be invited to serve as artistic director of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial,” Umolu said. “Having my roots in the field of architecture, spatial questions have always been an important consideration of my work with contemporary artists, architects, and urbanists from across the world. I am excited to embark on the journey of engaging the city of Chicago and its publics, as well as visitors to Chicago from across the country and around the world, in these conversations.”

Umolu currently serves as exhibitions curator at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, a position she has held since 2015. Recent projects at the Logan Center, such as Kapwani Kiwanga: The sum and its parts, The Land Grant: Forest Law, and The Museum of Non-Participation: The New Deal, have focused on issues related to the built environment. She has previously served as assistant curator at the Eli and Edyth Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, curatorial fellow for visual arts at the Walker Art Center, and a contributor to Manifesta 8, Serpentine Pavilion, the Institute of International Visual Arts, and Tate Modern. She holds an MA with honors in architectural design from the University of Edinburgh and an MA with distinction in curating contemporary art from the Royal College of Art.

“We are delighted that Yesomi Umolu will serve as artistic director of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial,” biennial chairman Jack Guthman said. “Her broad curatorial experience makes her ideally suited to build upon the critical acclaim accorded to our 2015 and 2017 biennials by our dual constituencies—the architecture profession worldwide, as well as Chicagoans and visitors to our city.”

The Chicago Architectural Biennial was created in 2015 by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and mayor Rahm Emmanuel to create “an international forum on architecture and urbanism through the production of exhibitions and public programs.” In the 2015, the biennial’s first edition was led by artistic directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda. The 2017 edition, Make New History, was curated by architects Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee.

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