Spotlight: Thelma Golden
“As a black woman curator in an overwhelming white male art world, Golden has long fostered art that burns with racial and gender issues.” Joyce Corrigan, Artnet
Born in 1965 in Queens, New York, Golden is one of today’s most notable museum curator’s.
Golden’s childhood love of museums put her on the fast track to becoming a driving force in the art world. Her first hands-on training came as a senior in high school, when she trained as a curatorial apprentice at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She went on to earn a BA in Art History and African-American Studies from Smith College in 1987. Golden’s first curatorial position was at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1987. Then, in 1991, Thelma took a position at the Whitney Museum of American Art where she remained until 1999.
Golden has used her position to open up the museum to previously under-represented artists including women and people of color. Her notable exhibitions have created challenging dialogues within the art world.
Her most heralded contributions have been her 1993 Whitney Biennial collaboration. The Biennial took controversial look at America and tough social issues such as race, gender, sexuality, AIDS, and gay rights. Just a few years later there was Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art, where 29 minority artists displayed works that illustrated the current conceptions of black masculinity. The artists were black men, such as Gary Simmons, and Lyle Ashton Harris; black women, such as Adrian Piper, Lorna Simpson, and Renee Cox; and a few Asian, Hispanic, and white artists to provide a multitude of perspectives. The exhibition also incorporated film, video, and media and was accompanied by an extensive catalogue.
Currently, Golden is the director and chief curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem. And on the boards of Creative Time in New York and the Institute of International Visual Arts in London.
Thelma Golden …you rock!
photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders