Jessica Bell Brown. Photo by Texas Isaiah.
Jessica Bell Brown. Photo by Texas Isaiah.

Jessica Bell Brown and Leila Grothe are joining the BMA’s curatorial team

BALTIMORE, MD (October 28, 2019)—The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) today announced the appointment of Jessica Bell Brown and Leila Grothe as Associate Curators for Contemporary Art, expanding the museum’s contemporary department. Brown most recently served as the Consulting Curator at Gracie Mansion Conservancy, where she spearheaded the organization of the much-acclaimed show, She Persists: A Century of Women Artists in New York, 1919-2019. Grothe joins the BMA after having held the position of Associate Curator at the Wattis Institute at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, where she focused on commissioning new work by emerging and mid-career artists whose practices have yet to receive significant attention, including Rosha Yaghmai, Yuki Kimura, and Melanie Gilligan. Brown and Grothe will both assume their responsibilities at the BMA on November 18, 2019.

“In their work as curators, educators, and scholars, Jessica and Leila have both shown incredible prescience in bringing to light the voices and innovations of a wide range of artists spanning the 20th into the 21st century. Their diverse and complementary areas of research and passion for expanding our collective understanding of the relationship between art and society will prove essential to the BMA’s ongoing success,” said BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director Christopher Bedford. “They join the BMA at a moment of widespread change and great creative ferment, as we continue to place major emphasis on diversity, equity, and access as the critical lenses for all we do at the Museum. We look forward to working with Jessica and Leila in this mission.”

Prior to serving as the Consulting Curator at Gracie Mansion Conservancy in New York with First Lady Chirlane McCray (2018-2019), Jessica Bell Brown was the Museum Research Consortium Fellow in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art (2016-2017). There, she worked on the 2017 Robert Rauschenberg retrospective Among Friends, contributed to the museum’s publications, and co-founded a quarterly series of museum-wide gallery talks called #ArtSpeaks. Earlier in her career, she held positions at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (2013) and Creative Time (2012). Brown holds an M.A. in Art History from Princeton University and a B.A. in Art History from Northwestern. She is currently completing her Ph.D. on post-war abstraction in the post-civil rights decade at Princeton University.

In addition to her curatorial responsibilities as the Associate Curator at the California College of the Arts’ Wattis Institute in San Francisco (2014-2019), Leila Grothe has been a guest lecturer and advisor to the CCA Curatorial Practice graduate program. Previously, she worked as the inaugural Director for Curatorial Affairs for the 500 Capp Street Foundation (2015-2016). She has also served as the collections manager for the Alexandra Bowes Collection (2014-2015) and the Joyner/Giuffrida Collection (2013-2014), the Assistant Director of External Affairs at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts (2010-2012), and as a project manager for Creative Time in Dallas (2009-2010). Grothe holds an M.A. in Curatorial Practice from California College of the Arts and a B.A. in Art History with Honors from Southern Methodist University.

The contemporary department at the BMA is led by The Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Chief Curator Asma Naeem. Brown and Grothe join Senior Research & Programming Curator Katy Siegel and Associate Curator Cecilia Wichmann in the department. Associate Curator for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Leslie Cozzi, who joined the museum last year from the Hammer Museum, also curates contemporary exhibitions. The department is further supported by Cynthia Hodge-Thorne, the inaugural Meyerhoff-Becker Curatorial Fellow, and Stella Hendrix, the Souls Grown Deep Foundation Fellow.

About the Baltimore Museum of Art

Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 97,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.

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