Jovanna Venegas has been named curator of SculptureCenter, filling a top role at the Long Island City, Queens institution that’s been vacant for 18 months.
Currently an associate curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Venegas will soon oversee SculptureCenter’s evolving artistic program and programmatic calendar under director Sohrab Mohebbi. She’s set to begin in January, 2024.
“I have long admired SculptureCenter’s ethos of centering artistic vision and experimentation,” Venegas wrote in an email. “Their bold commitment to commissioning and fostering opportunities for artists to present a new idea resonates with my interests.”
During her six-year stint at SFMOMA, Venegas has curated solo presentations of new work by Fernando Palma Rodríguez (2023), Charles Gaines (2021), and Rodney McMillian (2019), and helped organize group shows such as “Shifting the Silence” (2022) and “SOFT POWER” (2019). She served as a curatorial advisor for the 2022 Whitney Biennial, focusing on projects around the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
“Jovanna is a curator with fresh ideas and the ability to work on different scales and timelines, especially in commissioning ambitious new work,” Mohebbi said in an interview. “In a moment of curatorial experimentation, her input, vision, and skills will be invaluable.”
Mohebbi, who was a curator at large at SculptureCenter before being named director in February of 2022, was not in a rush to hire a new, dedicated curator, he said. The idea was to first establish, through proof of concept, his vision for the museum.
“We wanted the curator to start in a moment when they can have a clear sense of what has been important to SculptureCenter recently and a runway to build on and contribute new ideas to the exhibitions calendar,” he explained. Since he took over, the museum has reconfigured its exhibition cycles to focus on what he calls “expanded artist-driven public programs” and reintroduced its “In Practice” open-call series of shows, presented in a different format each year.
“We have been developing and refreshing a lot of what we do in preparation for a new voice to join the team, and Jovanna will contribute to all aspects of the program moving forward,” the director added.
Venegas, for her part, was sold on Mohebbi’s pitch. “There is a continued desire for the program to maintain an international dimension and provide artists with the resources and support to debut a body of work in New York,” she said. “Transitioning from a larger institution to a smaller one, I am excited to have more flexibility and creative freedom to shape the program in close collaboration with the team.”
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