Amy L. Powell, Inaugural Curator of Campus Arts Research at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Krannert Art Museum, 2023. Photo by Della Perrone

Amy L. Powell Becomes Curator of Campus Arts Research at Illinois

New Office Emphasizes Campus as Laboratory for Contemporary Art


Julia Nucci Kelly
Asst. Director, Marketing & Communications
Krannert Art Museum
Ph: 217-244-0320

(December 5, 2023) Champaign, Ill. — Recently, U of I Chancellor Robert Jones began a strategic initiative to fully integrate and elevate the arts into campus life, naming Cynthia Oliver as a Special Advisor for Arts Integration at Illinois. Amy L. Powell, the current Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Krannert Art Museum will also work with Oliver to serve as Curator of Campus Arts Research.

“I’m looking forward to making contemporary artists more integral to the culture of the university as a whole,” said Powell. “I’ve done this in my role in the museum and am excited to scale up, especially under Cynthia’s visionary leadership.”

Powell has been Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Krannert Art Museum since 2014, producing exhibitions, publications, and programs that center anti-colonial, feminist, and queer modes of inquiry, intentionally challenging and envisioning possibilities for institutional transformation. She has led numerous acquisitions to KAM’s permanent collection, including works by Robert Pruitt, Jess T. Dugan, Nick Cave, Kevin Cole, Louise Fishman, Sonny Assu, Hal Fischer, Bea Nettles, Zina Saro-Wiwa, Doris Derby, and Nancy Davidson + Lakshmi Ramgopal.

This appointment will add to her curatorial work at KAM, which Powell will continue part-time. “I’ve always been interested in getting artists out of the museum and into the campus,” Powell said.

Powell’s history of engaging live elements of contemporary art includes staging an in-gallery Time Symposium with Delhi-based artists Raqs Media Collective in which participants consumed wine and discussed concepts of time; and the exhibition Autumn Knight: In Rehearsal, that included performances at KAM, the campus pool, and the Stock Pavilion as part of Knight’s first solo museum exhibition. For Palestinian sound artists and filmmakers Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, in collaboration with faculty members Maryam Kashani and Junaid Rana, Powell held a listening party at the Channing-Murray Foundation in Urbana. And as part of Texas-based Borderland Collective’s work, she facilitated artist Mark Menjivar’s collection of people’s Migration Stories (everyone has one) on the U of I quad with the participation of graduate students.

In her new role, upcoming projects include working with contemporary artists to plan and execute up to three significant artworks per year in unconventional sites around campus, in addition to her curatorial work at KAM. Upcoming collaborations include partnering with the Marching Illini and contemporary artist Ronny Quevedo, whose practice uses abstraction, cartography, and sports imagery to express anti-colonial ideas about migration, family memory. and indigeneity in Ecuador, the United States, and throughout Latin America.

Powell will coordinate with the Office of the Chancellor, Krannert Art Museum, and campus partners to integrate these new works into teaching, research, student life, and community engagement while making the entire campus a site for the production of knowledge via contemporary art. As Curator of Campus Arts Research, she will develop a sustainable, long-term plan for a campus-wide curated commission program.

One of the new office’s goals is to ensure that every student has a creative experience during their time at the university. Powell’s goal is that “every university student has an experience of the visual arts during their time at the University of Illinois.” In doing so, she hopes that artists start to recognize Illinois as a resource for experimentation and collaborative research at pivotal moments in their career.

“My hope is that this role evolves into a platform that is recognized on our campus and beyond, with not only a local emphasis but one that thinks of the university in context with contemporary artists, our regional communities, and the full breadth of the university’s reach,” Powell said.



To learn more about Ronny Quevedo’s work, visit Alexander Gray - Ronny Quevedo. Discover Amy L. Powell’s curatorial practice at Questions about Krannert Art Museum can be directed to Julia Nucci Kelly at