Art

15 Women Curators to Know in Arizona

Lynn Trimble
Tiffany Fairall is the chief curator for Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum.
It's still Women's History month, so as you're (safely) flocking to Arizona art museums, keep in mind the many ways women are making local art spaces more intriguing and accessible. Here's a rundown of 15 female museum curators around the state to help you get a feel for the interests and experience that inform their work.


click to enlarge Janet Baker is the curator of Asian art at Phoenix Art Museum. - PHOENIX ART MUSEUM
Janet Baker is the curator of Asian art at Phoenix Art Museum.
Phoenix Art Museum

Janet Baker

Curator of Asian Art
Phoenix Art Museum


Janet Baker joined Phoenix Art Museum in 2000 after serving as curator of Asian art at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Santa Ana, California. She holds a Ph.D. in Chinese art history from the University of Kansas. Baker has curated exhibitions on the subjects of samurai armor, the art of Islam, photographs of Tibet, love and death in Chinese paintings, and sculptural works by contemporary artist Ai Weiwei.



Mary-Beth Buesgen

Curator of CRC Collection & Archive
ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center



Mary-Beth Buesgen has curated a number of shows for the ASU Art Museum, focusing on the permanent collection and Susan Peterson Archive. She has worked with university collections and archives for more than two decades. Buesgen is a ceramic artist and metal worker whose academic background includes an M.S. in graphic information technology and a certificate in museum studies. Most recently, she curated “DinnerWhere,” which is currently on view at the Ceramics Research Center.


Laura Copelin

Chief Curator
Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson



Laura Copelin was named chief curator for the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson in early 2020, where she also served for a time as interim director for the museum. Before coming to Tucson, Copelin served as curator-at-large for Ballroom Marfa in Texas and an assistant curator at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in California. Her areas of expertise include arts and culture along the U.S.-Mexico border.


click to enlarge Brittany Corrales is a curator for ASU Art Museum. - ASU ART MUSEUM
Brittany Corrales is a curator for ASU Art Museum.
ASU Art Museum

Brittany Corrales

Curator
ASU Art Museum



Brittany Corrales, who holds an M.A. in art history from ASU, oversees the Jules Heller Print Study Room and print collection at ASU Art Museum, where she previously served as a Windgate Curatorial Fellow. Her research interests include works on paper, feminist art, and architecture and design. Corrales has also worked for the Center for Creative Photography, Phoenix Art Museum, and the Skystone Foundation. She participated in the emerging curator initiative for Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art.


click to enlarge Chief curator Tiffany Fairall with a previous exhibit inside one of several museum galleries. - MESA ARTS CENTER
Chief curator Tiffany Fairall with a previous exhibit inside one of several museum galleries.
Mesa Arts Center

Tiffany Fairall

Chief Curator
Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum



Tiffany Fairall became the chief curator at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum in March 2019, where previous roles included curator for exhibitions and associate curator for the museum. Her interests, including popular culture and social commentary, have been reflected in exhibitions addressing themes from tattoo culture to jazz music. Fairall proposed and oversaw the installation of El Mac’s 35-foot-tall Desert Rose (Nuevas Generaciones) mural on the exterior of the museum’s elevator shaft. She holds an M.A. and B.A. in art history, as well as a B.F.A. in graphic design from ASU.


click to enlarge Helen Jean is the curator of fashion design at Phoenix Art Museum. - PHOENIX ART MUSEUM
Helen Jean is the curator of fashion design at Phoenix Art Museum.
Phoenix Art Museum

Helen Jean

Curator of Fashion Design
Phoenix Art Museum



Helen Jean was named the curator of fashion design in 2020, and served as the museum's curatorial assistant in fashion design from 2007 to 2012, a role that included researching new acquisitions and helping to develop and install numerous exhibits. Her prior experience also includes teaching at the Art Institute of Phoenix. The first major exhibit Jean curated for Phoenix Art Museum was "India: Fashion’s Muse."


click to enlarge Erin Joyce is the fine arts curator at Heard Museum. - HEARD MUSEUM
Erin Joyce is the fine arts curator at Heard Museum.
Heard Museum

Erin Joyce

Fine Arts Curator
Heard Museum



Erin Joyce became the fine arts curator at the Heard Museum in 2017. She holds an M.A. in museum studies from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in the history of art from the University of North Texas, and studied contemporary art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. Joyce has organized and co-curated more than 30 exhibitions around the U.S. In recent years, she has curated exhibits featuring contemporary artists Nicholas Galanin and Maria Hupfield.


click to enlarge Tricia Loscher is the assistant director for collections, exhibitions and research at SMoW in Scottsdale. - WESTERN SPIRIT: SCOTTSDALE'S MUSEUM OF THE WEST
Tricia Loscher is the assistant director for collections, exhibitions and research at SMoW in Scottsdale.
Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West

Tricia Loscher

Assistant Director — Collections, Exhibitions and Research
Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West



Tricia Loscher has curated exhibits for Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Spirit of the West including shows highlighting Hopi ceramics, Cowboy Artists of America, and historic paintings by the Taos Society of Artists. She previously served as a curator and program director for Heard Museum North in Scottsdale. Loscher is currently co-organizing an exhibition of photographs by Edward S. Curtis. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, and an M.A. and B.A. from Arizona State University.


click to enlarge Jennifer McCabe is the director and chief curator for Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. - SCOTTSDALE ARTS
Jennifer McCabe is the director and chief curator for Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
Scottsdale Arts

Jennifer McCabe

Director and Chief Curator
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art



Jennifer McCabe’s curatorial practice explores intersectional feminisms, site-responsive commissions, and artistic interventions. Her work for SMoCA has covered topics including fashion and video art. McCabe previously served as director and chief curator for the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco. She is a faculty associate in art history at ASU, and has taught modern and contemporary art at Mills College and San Francisco State University.


click to enlarge Olivia Miller is the curator of exhibitions for University of Arizona Museum of Art. - UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA ART MUSEUM
Olivia Miller is the curator of exhibitions for University of Arizona Museum of Art.
University of Arizona Art Museum

Olivia Miller

Curator of Exhibitions
University of Arizona Museum of Art



Olivia Miller has been curating and co-curating shows at the museum since 2012. She has taught art in several settings, including the Arizona State Prison Complex. Currently a Ph.D. candidate in art history, she is writing her dissertation on the C. Leonard Pfeiffer Collection, which is the museum’s founding collection of American art of the 1920s to the 1940s. Her prior experience includes teaching high school and college art history, and working with several nonprofits in Arizona and Oregon.


Jillian Nakornthap

Exhibits Curator
City of Chandler


Jillian Nakornthap curates exhibitions for Chandler Museum and Vision Gallery. She has curated exhibitions on decolonization, boxing, and urban landscapes. She has previously worked at Corcoran School of the Arts and Design in Washington, D.C., as well as art museums in Bakersfield and Long Beach, California. Nakornthap holds an M.A. in exhibition design from California State University and a B.A. in art history from the University of California.


click to enlarge Lauren R. O'Connell is the curator of contemporary art at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. - SCOTTSDALE ARTS
Lauren R. O'Connell is the curator of contemporary art at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
Scottsdale Arts

Lauren R. O’Connell

Curator of Contemporary Art
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art


Lauren R. O’Connell’s curatorial practice focuses on promoting inclusion through elevating under-recognized histories and facilitating new artworks. She has worked on retrospective exhibits on modern and contemporary artists, and is currently working on a retrospective and catalog about painter Dorothy Fratt. O’Connell has held curatorial positions at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and UC Berkeley Art Museum, and holds an M.A. in curatorial practice from California College of the Arts in San Francisco.


Diana Pardue

Chief Curator
Heard Museum


Diana Pardue’s curatorial practice is focused on historic and contemporary Native American arts. In 2009, she received the Curatorial Excellence Award from the Apple Valley Foundation in California. Pardue has written or co-written several exhibition publications, highlighting artists such as Richard I. Chavez, Awa Tsireh, Fred Harvey, Yazzie Johnson, and Gail Bird. She holds an M.A. from ASU.


click to enlarge Colette Pecenka is the curator of exhibitions and education at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum. - MESA ARTS CENTER
Colette Pecenka is the curator of exhibitions and education at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum.
Mesa Arts Center

Colette Pecenka

Curator of Exhibitions and Education
Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum



Colette Pecenka was appointed the curator of exhibitions and education at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum in April 2019. Prior roles include coordinator for a Mayo Clinic humanities in medicine program and arts specialist for the Phoenix Airport Museum, where she worked on exhibits, public art installations, and special projects for more than two dozen spaces. Pecenka holds a B.A. in ceramics and an M.Ed. from ASU.


click to enlarge Julie Sasse is the chief curator for Tucson Museum of Art. - TUCSON MUSEUM OF ART
Julie Sasse is the chief curator for Tucson Museum of Art.
Tucson Museum of Art

Julie Sasse

Chief Curator
Tucson Museum of Art


Julie Sasse is also the curator of modern and contemporary art for the Tucson Museum of Art, where she recently curated an exhibition about the art and legacy of Elaine Horwitch. She has organized more than 100 exhibitions since joining the museum in 2000, and authored more than 40 art books, exhibit catalogs, and essays. Sasse is a 2016 Women's International Study Center fellow. She holds an M.F.A. and M.A. in art history from ASU, and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.