Common Ground

Curatorial Activism/Decolonial Curating: Maura Reilly & Friends


6 p.m. Eastern / 3 p.m. Pacific

A conversation on Indigenous curatorial practices featuring legendary curators Wanda Nanibush, Paul Chaat Smith, Megan Tamati-Quennell and artist Richard Bell in conversation with Maura Reilly. We’ll conclude with a poetry reading by India Lena González.

In this talk

Please note that this event takes place at 6pm EST. To get the Zoom link and email reminders, please register at the link above.

Arizona State University School of Art | Herberger Institute for Design & the Arts

Wanda Nanibush

Wanda Nanibush
Courtesy of Wanda Nanibush
Wanda Nanibush is an Anishinaabe-kwe image and word warrior, curator and community organizer from Beausoleil First Nation. Currently Nanibush is the inaugural curator of Indigenous art and co-head of the Indigenous + Canadian Art department at Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Her current AGO exhibition, Rebecca Belmore Facing the Monumental is touring internationally as well as two independent projects Nanabozho’s sisters (Dalhousie) and Sovereign Acts (JMB). Nanibush has a Masters of Visual Studies from University of Toronto where she has taught graduate courses. On top of many catalogue essays Nanibush has published widely on Indigenous art, politics, history and feminism and sexuality.

Richard Bell

A photograph of artist Richard Bell
One of Australia’s most significant artists, Richard Bell works across painting, installation, performance and video work to explore the complex artistic and political problems of Western, colonial, and Indigenous art production. He grew out of a generation of Aboriginal activists and has remained committed to the politics of Aboriginal emancipation and self-determination. In 2003 he was the recipient of the Telstra National Aboriginal Art Award. Bell is represented in most major Australian National and State collections, and has exhibited in a number of solo exhibitions at important institutions in Australia and America. In 2013 he was included in the National Gallery of Canada’s largest show of International Indigenous art, Sakàhan, and at the Fifth Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. In 2014, Bell’s solo exhibition Embassy opened at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth. In 2015, Bell presented a collaborative exhibition of new work with Emory Douglas at Milani Gallery, and exhibited his major work Embassy (2013-ongoing) as part of Performa 15, New York City and the 16th Jakarta Biennale, curated by Charles Esche. Bell also premiered a body of new work as part of the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art’s 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane. In early 2016, BELL invites… an exhibition of Bell and work by friends and collaborators opened at the Stedelijk Museum SMBA, Amsterdam, and premiered a new sculptural commission as part of Sonsbeek 2016 at the Dutch Art Institute in Arnhem, Netherlands. Bell presented Embassy as part of the 20th Biennale of Sydney, curated by Stephanie Rosenthal, at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, and most recently as part of the Jerusalem Show VIII. In 2017, Bell exhibited in The National: New Australian Art, a comprehensive survey of contemporary Australian art presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and Carriageworks, Sydney. In 2018, he presented his solo exhibition Dredging up the Past at Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne. In 2019, Bell took his Embassy project to the Venice Biennale as a collateral event and presented work at Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea Milan. In 2021 Bell has a major solo exhibition at the MCA Sydney. In 2022 Bell will be presenting Embassy at the Tate Modern. He lives and works in Brisbane, Australia.

Paul Chaat Smith

Paul Chaat Smith
Courtesy of Paul Chaat Smith
Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche) joined the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in 2001, where he now serves as Curator. His exhibitions include Americans, Stretching the Canvas, James Luna’s Emendatio, Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian, and Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort. He’s the coauthor of Like a Hurricane: the Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee (The New Press, 1996), and Everything You Know about Indians Is Wrong (University of Minnesota Press, 2009). Although he spends most of his time crafting game-changing exhibitions and texts, he also enjoys reading obsessively about the early days of the Soviet space program, watching massive amounts of televised sports (pandemics permitting), and writing about himself in the third person.

Megan Tamati-Quennell

A photograph of Megan Tamati-Quennell

Of Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāi Tahu, and Kāti Mamoe descent, Megan Tamati-Quennell is a leading specialist in the field of modern and contemporary Māori & Indigenous art. She currently holds two curatorial positions as Curator of Modern & Contemporary Māori & Indigenous Art at Te Papa in Wellington and Indigenous Curator of Contemporary Art/Kairauhī Taketake Toi Onāianei at the Govett Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth. Her research interests include: the contemporary Māori art movement, Māori modernism, Mana Wahine Māori (Māori women artists of the 1930s till today), the Maori Internationals (the contemporary Māori artists who rose to prominence during the 1990s, the bicultural era of New Zealand) and Indigenous art curatorial praxis.

Current projects include: curating There is no Before by Dale Harding and Land Site Place, featuring the work of Shona Rapira Davies, Kate Newby, Matt Pine and Ana Iti, for the Govett Brewster Art Gallery, developing a limited edition publication about Détour, the major commission by Michael Parekowhai curated for the opening of the new Toi Art Gallery in Te Papa, and researching and developing an exhibition and publication focused on the women of Māori modernism. Megan is also writing a chapter entitled “Ka pū te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi (The old net is laid aside, the new net goes fishing): The quiet revolution, Māori modernism, Gordon Tovey, Pineamine Taiapa, and other motivators of change” for a publication about Indigenous modernisms being published by Duke University Press.

Maura Reilly

Maura Reilly
Photo by Rochelle S. Paris
Maura Reilly is a curator and arts writer who has organized dozens of exhibitions internationally with a specific focus on marginalized artists. She has written extensively on global contemporary art and curatorial practice, including, most recently Curatorial Activism: Towards an Ethics of Curating (Thames & Hudson, 2018), which was named a “Top 10 Best Art Book of 2018” by the New York Times. Her next book, The Ethical Museum, is forthcoming from Thames & Hudson in 2022, followed by a textbook on Feminist Art, also with Thames & Hudson. Reilly is the Founding Curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, where she developed and launched the first exhibition and public programming space in the USA devoted entirely to feminist art. While there, she organized several landmark exhibitions, including the permanent installation of Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, the blockbuster Global Feminisms (co-curated with Linda Nochlin), Ghada Amer: Love Had No End, Burning Down the House, among others. Other notable exhibitions include Miriam Schapiro: An American Visionary, Richard Bell: Uz v. Them, Nayland Blake: Behavior, Carolee Schneemann: Painting, What It Became, La Mirada Iracunda (The Furious Gaze), Neo-Queer, among others. She is a founding member of two initiatives dedicated to fighting discrimination against women in the art world – The Feminist Art Project (TFAP) and Feminist Curators United (FcU). She received her M.A. and PhD in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and is an Editor-at-Large for the Brooklyn Rail. Dr. Reilly is an Associate Professor of Art History and Museum Studies at Arizona State University.

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have India Lena González reading.

India Lena González

A photograph of India Lena González
Poet, educator, artist, dancer, choreographer, and actor. She received her BA from Columbia University and MFA from NYU. Her work is published in Poets & Writers Magazine, PANK, Pigeon Pages, American Chordata, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and others. India is a 2020 National Poetry Series finalist.

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.