Amy L. Powell Joins Krannert Art Museum as Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art


Amy L. Powell, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Krannert Art Museum. Photo by Zina Saro-Wiwa
Amy L. Powell, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Krannert Art Museum. Photo by Zina Saro-Wiwa, 2014
Julia Nucci Kelly

Krannert Art Museum (KAM) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is pleased to welcome Amy L. Powell as the museum’s curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. She began her new role on Sept. 16, 2014. Powell previously held the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Curatorial Fellowship at Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston.

“I am committed to the idea that university art museums are vital to the production of knowledge. Through exhibitions, public programs and artist residencies, they are incubators for ideas and experimentation around the visual arts,” states Powell. “My research is focused on global contemporary art and film, and so I am thrilled to begin this partnership with Krannert Art Museum, where a focus on international contemporary art as expressed across a broad range of media, is well known. Curating contemporary art in a university environment is especially exciting because it enables me to pursue interdisciplinary research around modern and contemporary art, film and visual culture amid active engagement with the public, my academic colleagues and students, many of whom are in the midst of developing their own studio practice.”

As a fellow at Blaffer Art Museum, Powell developed a thematic, interdisciplinary approach to curatorial practice. Her exhibitions include Zineb Sedira: Lighthouse in the Sea of Time, which marked the artist’s first solo presentation in the United States; Clarissa Tossin: Blind SpotAnna Campbell: Under Water and Into the Sunset; and Antena @ Blaffer, which featured a bookspace, group exhibition, series of public programs and forthcoming book with the language experimentation and language justice collaborative Antena, comprised of poets, translators and activist interpreters Jen Hofer and John Pluecker.

Powell’s current projects include Time / Image, an international group exhibition of artworks and films with deep investments in questions of time, and a solo exhibition of new work by Zina Saro-Wiwa interrogating self and environment in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Both exhibitions will premiere at Blaffer Art Museum in 2015 and travel to Krannert Art Museum in 2016.

Powell has pursued artist-led courses and workshops in the exhibition Antena @ Blaffer, and in advance of the exhibition Time / Image, a two-week residency with Delhi-based artists Raqs Media Collective examining Houston’s temporal and energy landscapes. She also organized a roundtable of scholar-advisors discussing the literary, historical and artistic contexts of Zina Saro-Wiwa’s current work in the Niger Delta.

“I plan to make full use of the university’s material and intellectual resources in the planning of exhibitions, collection practices and programming,” she remarks. “And partnering with colleagues to facilitate professional opportunities for students in the School of Art + Design and in the College of Fine + Applied Arts will be of great importance in this role.”

Powell completed a Ph.D. in art history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012, where her research was supported by a Chancellor’s Fellowship and the Institute for Research in the Humanities. From 2010 to 2011, she was Smithsonian Predoctoral Fellow at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. In 2014 she was awarded a curatorial research grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for her preparation of a solo exhibition by Zina Saro-Wiwa. Her essays and exhibition and book reviews have appeared in African ArtsChicago Art JournalInvisible Culture and Grove Art Online.