A year after John Spiak left his curating post at ASU Art Museum for gig in California, the museum staff announced they'll be welcoming a new curator in September.
Julio Cesar Morales is an artist and a well-seasoned curator. He comes from the the Yerba Buena Center for The Arts (YCBA) in San Francisco, where he served as adjunct curator and founder of the PAUSE II Practice and Exchange, which commissioned and supported artists from around the world to showcase process-based exhibitions.
His own work, which focuses on "issues of labor, memory, surveillance technologies and identity strategies" according to museum staff, has been shown around the world in museums, and biennales including the SFMOMA, UCLA Hammer Museum, The Rooseum Museum of Art, Istanbul Biennale, and the Singapore Biennale (to name a few). And he's received awards from Rockefeller Foundation, The Fleishhacker Foundation, and Levis Strauss Foundation.
"Curatorial practice and art education have always been an important part of my overall artistic practice," writes Morales in his curatorial statement, released by ASU Art Museum this afternoon. "I am particularly interested in art's unique ability to engage in a social context, which can imbue daily life with meaning and significance. An important aspect of that is creating opportunities to draw on new models of engagement with both schools and students."
Morales has big shoes to fill, but in a growing arts community that needs strong curators to lead its institutions, they're much-needed shoes.
Spiak curated the first museum solo shows of local artists including Angela Ellsworth, Sloane McFarland, and Jon Haddock, as well as shows by international artists including Pipilotti Rist, Shirin Neshat, and Sean Duffy. Spiak also started the ASU Short Film and Video Festival in 1997.
While the Short Film Fest went on hiatus, it's possible (fingers crossed) that Morales could bring it back -- he developed Crossfade, a world-wide video compilation project, and recently curated a retrospective of influential underground film-maker George Kuchar at The San Francisco Art Institute.
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His other recent curations include Politica y Poecia, surrounding migration and labor issues in contemporary Mexican art at The National Watercolor Museum in Sweden in 2011, and The One Who Sees Blindly, an exhibition of work by Nathalie Talec at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco in 2012.
"My interest in breaking boundaries between disciplines has led me to work as a curator and educator," he writes. "I have been fortunate to exhibit and curate at an international level, and I bring these experiences back to a pedagogical environment, which allows me to develop programs, collaboration and enthusiasm within an art university and art museum level."
ASU Art Museum will host a casual open house to welcome Morales on September 11 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. before the season opening on September 28 and 29. The Art Museum, which is part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University, is at Mill and 10th Street in Tempe.