April 9, 2018

Helen Molesworth to Deliver UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture Commencement Address

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA—Helen Molesworth will deliver the keynote address at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Arts and Architecture commencement ceremony. Graduation exercises will be held Saturday, June 16, 2018.

Molesworth was dismissed from her position as chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in March reportedly for “creative differences” between Molesworth and MOCA director Philippe Vergne and the museum’s board. In a January 2018 lecture at UCLA’s Department of Design Media Arts, Molesworth said, “I don’t think there’s any way for MOCA to not be a white space. Not gonna happen. The DNA is too deep. We don’t have anyone of color on our board. Let’s start right there.” In November 2017, in a conversation with University of California, Berkeley art historian Julia Bryan-Wilson hosted by Artadia,Molesworth questioned the ethics of the relationship between museums and their boards, noting that board members “imported their ways of thinking from for-profit models that are very much at play in not-for-profit spaces, so that makes for a certain kind of ethical way of being.”

Of Molesworth’s commencement address, UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture dean Brett Steele said, “It is in the times that are most challenging that we, as artists, must engage the world with our greatest passion, clarity and forward-thinking vision. To be an artist in an uncertain future you must be brave, you must be bold, and you must strive for excellence. Throughout her celebrated curatorial career, Helen Molesworth has exemplified these values time and again.”

UCLA Department of Art professor, artist, and MOCA board member Catherine Opie said that Molesworth “has an extraordinary ability to see forward—to identify an assess future generations of thinkers in contemporary culture. Her groundbreaking exhibitions have brought the work of really important artists, such as Kerry James Marshall, to a broader public in Los Angeles and beyond. The boldly optimistic collaboration she helped forge with the Underground Museum while at MOCA was radical and visionary. I think hers will be a very powerful—and empowering—voice for our graduating students to hear this year.”

At MOCA, Molesworth curated the first U.S. retrospective of Brazilian artist Anna Maria Maiolino and the monographic survey “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry.” She was previously chief curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, where she presented exhibitions by Catherine Opie, Josiah McElheny, and Amy Sillman, as well as the group exhibitions “This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s” and “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957,” which traveled to UCLA’s Hammer Museum in 2016.

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