Valerie Cassel Oliver, the Sydney and Francis Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in Richmond, discusses her latest trailblazing exhibition, “The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse.” Illustrating, through the frame of Southern hip-hop, how early 20th-century Black visual and sound aesthetics helped shape contemporary Southern art, music, and a material culture of customized cars and personal adornment, Cassel Oliver’s show is an exemplary expression of her curatorial vision.
Valerie Cassel Oliver
Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA)
Valerie Cassel Oliver is the Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Prior to this position, she spent sixteen years at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas, where she was senior curator. She was director of the Visiting Artist Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a program specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2000, she was one of six curators selected to organize the Biennial for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Cassel Oliver has organized numerous group exhibitions including the acclaimed Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art Since 1970 (2005); Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image with Dr. Andrea Barnwell Brownlee (2009); Hand + Made: The Performative Impulse in Art and Craft (2010); Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art (2012); and Cosmologies from the Tree of Life: Art from the African American South (2019). Cassel Oliver has also mounted numerous artist survey and retrospective exhibitions including Benjamin Patterson, Born in the State of Flux/us, Donald Moffett: The Extravagant Vein (2011); Jennie C. Jones: Compilation (2015); Angel Otero: Everything and Nothing (2016); Annabeth Rosen: Fired, Broken, Gathered, Heaped (2017); and most recently, Howardena Pindell: What Remains to be Seen (2018), co-organized with Naomi Beckwith, Larry and Marilyn Fields Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA).
Her upcoming exhibition, The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, opened at VMFA on May 22.
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