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Jade Powers will become the new curator of contemporary art at Harn Museum Art at the University of Florida on April 1.

“We are delighted to welcome Powers to the Curatorial Department and look forward to collaborating with her on global contemporary art acquisitions as well as fostering her creative ideas in the development of new exhibitions at Harn,” said Dulce Román. , the museum’s chief curator and curator of modern art by e-mail.

Powers will lead the development and interpretation of Harn’s contemporary collection, housed in the 6,500 square foot gallery in the Mary Ann Harn Cofrin Pavilion and adjacent Bob and Nancy Magoon Garden on the UF campus. The Contemporary Collection includes over 2,000 international art objects from major contemporary art movements by established and emerging artists from around the world.

Powers was the unanimous choice of the recruiting committee, which included several Harn staff members as well as faculty from “our partner colleges at UF,” said Lee Anne Chesterfield, the museum’s artistic director.

Chesterfield said there were three excellent candidates on the shortlist.

“Ultimately, it was clear that Jade Powers was everyone’s first choice for The Harn. Her vision for The Harn’s contemporary art collection clearly aligns with The Harn’s current strategic plan as well as our values ​​and to our mission as the University of Florida and City of The Gainesville Museum of Art,” Chesterfield wrote via email.

The Harn has had black guest curators in the past who were not directly employed by the Harn. More recently, they’ve included Kimberly Williams, a UF graduate student majoring in English, and Porchia Moore, an assistant professor of museum studies at UF who co-hosted with Carol McCuskor, the curator of photography at museum, the current exhibition “Shadow to Substance” Exhibition which will be presented until Sunday.

“It is also the practice of curators and educators at Harn to bring together advisory groups for exhibitions to gain a diverse perspective on the presentation of art,” Chesterfield said. “We are asking members of the Gainesville community as well as faculty and students at UF and Santa Fe to advise us on our exhibits.”

Powers joins the Harn from the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri, where she has curated more than 10 permanent collections and special exhibitions since her appointment as assistant curator in 2018. Exhibition highlights include Dyani White Hawk: Speaking to Relatives (2021), Well-Read: Artists Inspired by Literature (2021), Dawoud Bey: Selections from Night Coming Tenderly, Black (2020) and Deconstructing Marcus Jansen (2018). In her role, Powers implemented contemporary art acquisitions, co-wrote and managed the catalog for the Dyani White Hawk exhibition, and was instrumental in launching Kemper’s new ‘Young Friends’ collectors group. , according to

All positions at Harn are funded by the state of Florida, UF, as well as private funds such as endowments in some cases, Chesterfield said, adding that Powers will be a state employee.

Powers holds a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana, with a focus on contemporary Asian art and culture.

At the Saint Louis Museum of Art, Powers established the museum’s first side gallery to comprehensively showcase the artwork of artists of African descent and implemented public programs including the creation of a teachers’ workshop to help educators add information about African American artists to their curriculum. The Saint-Louis art museum. is a world-renowned fine arts museum in St. Louis, Missouri.

Powers responded to questions from The Guardian via email.

When asked what inspired her to come to the Harn Museum, Powers said she was inspired by the museum’s collection of more than 2,000 objects by national and international artists as well as the outdoor sculptures. ; the history of the museum and the new strategic plan to provide art-focused opportunities to the greater Gainesville area and UF students in different fields of study.

Powers said his near-term plans for the contemporary art collection include hosting permanent exhibitions from the collection that showcase the artists in the collection; think about showing works that haven’t been seen in a while and putting together works that have never had a conversation with each other. Powers said she was excited to work with the curatorial team and faculty at UF to highlight important contemporary issues.

Powers said his long-term plans are to work with colleagues around the world to organize and host important exhibits for the Harn and UF missions. She said curating exhibits focused on the experiences of Floridians who travel to other museums will allow for important national conversations, and exhibits with a global focus will allow communities in Gainesville and beyond to engage with works and international contemporary artists.

Powers discussed his ideas for developing new exhibitions and public programs:

“I look forward to moving to Gainesville and learning more about the interests of the communities there.” Powers wrote via email. “I always have ideas for new exhibits and public programs, but understanding the neighborhood and seeing what might excite visitors is important to me. Overall, I am excited to develop exhibits that present untold stories throughout history and to work with the curatorial team and faculty at the university and area to participate in programs that bring important topics to life visually.

When asked about her ideas for showcasing black artists, Powers said Harn’s collection is a showcase of diverse artists and she looks forward to showcasing black artists in the permanent collection through the through exhibitions and loans that foster visual connections between these artists and others within the collection.

Powers said it is important not only to highlight black experiences on the African continent and the diaspora, but also to engage these voices in other areas of the museum, placing works by black artists in exhibition spaces with works by non-black artists, allowing for a well-rounded exploration of different subjects.

“I also look forward to expanding the collection of black artists and acquiring works that add to diverse and expansive black experiences, including non-figurative representation by artists of African descent,” Powers wrote. by email.