Ransom Center Appoints New Chief Curator of Photography
June 21, 2012—The Harry Ransom Center has appointed Jessica S. McDonald, a curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as its new chief curator of photography.
As the Nancy Inman and Marlene Nathan Meyerson Curator of Photography, McDonald will oversee a collection that spans from the world's earliest-known photograph to prints from some of the great masters of the twenty-first century. The Center's photography holdings include the Helmut and Alison Gernsheim collection, a seminal collection of the history of photography and one of the world's premier sources for the study and appreciation of photography.
In addition to the history of photography, the Ransom Center's photography collection focuses on photojournalism and documentary photography, with holdings of more than 5 million prints and negatives, supplemented by books, manuscripts, journals and memorabilia of photographers.
"McDonald's broad experiences—from teaching to curatorial—confirmed that she can lead our photography department, build the collection, support research and plan exhibitions," said Ransom Center Director Thomas F. Staley. "The possibilities under her guidance are exciting."
McDonald's professional experience includes affiliations with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Visual Studies Workshop and George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. In 2011, McDonald received an Ansel Adams Research Fellowship from the Center for Creative Photography.
McDonald recently curated the exhibition "Photography in Mexico: Selected Works from the Collections of SFMOMA and Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser" and edited the anthology "Nathan Lyons: Selected Essays, Lectures, and Interviews," which University of Texas Press published in June.
Upcoming photography exhibitions at the Ransom Center include a spring 2013 exhibition on photographer Arnold Newman and a fall 2014 exhibition on the Magnum Photos collection. Both collections reside at the Ransom Center.
McDonald begins her position at the Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, in September.
New York News
Jay Sanders Named Whitney Curator
July 13, 2012—The Whitney Museum of American Art is pleased to announce that Jay Sanders is joining the Museum’s staff as a curator. Mr. Sanders, whose particular expertise is in the performing arts, will begin at the Whitney in July.
Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director, commented: “Jay is a visionary curator with an exceptional record. His role will be the first full-time position that includes the performing arts, an area that has long been of immense importance to the Whitney. We’re proud of our great history of presenting the performing arts at the Museum and we’re confident that Jay is going to extend and expand that history in marvelous ways in the galleries, theater, and black box of the new downtown Museum. We’re deeply grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for making this appointment possible.”
Donna De Salvo, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Programs, noted: “Over the past decade, Jay has distinguished himself as an innovative curator with a distinctly original voice. We are thrilled that he is joining the Whitney’s curatorial team. Jay is a nuanced thinker across media—the visual arts, performing arts, film, and the spoken word—in ways that make him a perfect fit for the Whitney and its expanded notion of art in the United States. We look forward to what Jay will accomplish in the immediate future, as well as in the Whitney’s new building under construction downtown. We are especially pleased to welcome Jay at this historic moment.”
As part of the 2012 Biennial, which Sanders co-curated with Whitney curator Elisabeth Sussman, the fourth floor of the Whitney was transformed into a large open space dedicated to a wide array of performances and residencies by a number of Biennial artists. These included the choreographers Sarah Michelson (who received the 2012 Bucksbaum Award for her Biennial work) and Michael Clark; film and video artist Charles Atlas; rock musicians The Red Krayola; playwright and theater director Richard Maxwell; the Scottish-based group Arika, hosting a program centered around experimental sound and listening; mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran and jazz pianist Jason Moran with a number of guest artists, writers, and musicians; Biennial artist Kai Althoff performing in a play by Yair Oelbaum; and visual artist K8 Hardy, who staged a full-fledged fashion runway show.
In addition to organizing innumerable exhibitions, concerts, and readings over the past decade, Sanders’s recent projects as a curator include NUMINA lente, a three-evening music and performance festival presented at the Clemente Soto Velez Center, New York, in April 2011.
In 2008 Sanders curated Looking Back: The Third White Columns Annual at White Columns, New York. In 2007 he organized an artist film and video program/installation, conceived and co-curated with Paul Chan, entitled Change our fates, hobble the plague, start with time, at the Lyon Biennale. From 2005 until 2010, Sanders was a Gallery Director at Greene Naftali in New York, where he organized major monographic exhibitions of Tony Conrad and Paul Sharits, along with shows devoted to work by Allen Ruppersberg, Guy de Cointet, and many others. Curated group exhibitions at the gallery included Payday, Epileptic Seizure Comparison, and Motore Immobile.
Sanders has programmed performance, music, and film exhibitions at such venues as the former Whitney branch at Altria, Issue Project Room, Anthology Film Archives, the Sculpture Center, EAI, The Stone, Tonic, and Performa. He is a member of the collaborative performance group Grand Openings, and has staged large-scale events at MoMA, the Bumbershoot Festival (Seattle), MUMOK (Vienna), the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial (Japan), and at Anthology Film Archives for Performa 05 (New York).
Sanders has produced and edited a DVD on the work of theater artist Richard Foreman, published a book of Jack Smith’s drawings, and co-edited, with poet Charles Bernstein, the seminal catalogue Poetry Plastique to accompany their 2001 exhibition by the same name at Marianne Boesky Gallery, where Sanders was a Gallery Director from 2000 to 2005. He has written extensively for Artforum, Parkett, Texte zur Kunst, BOMB, and other publications.
The Whitney is extremely grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a generous three-year grant to support the Whitney’s performing arts program. This funding enables the Museum to appoint a curator who will research and plan performing arts programming over the next three years in the Breuer building, as well as in the new Whitney building downtown, scheduled to open in 2015.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation program for Art History, Conservation, and Museums is designed to help excellent institutions build and sustain their capacity to undertake serious scholarship on their permanent collections; to preserve these collections; and to share the results of their work in appropriate ways with scholarly and other audiences.