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Six Major U.S. Museums Announce The 2018–20 Class of the Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellows

The Art Institute of Chicago, the High Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art are pleased to announce the 2018–20 class of fellows designated for The Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program. This year’s fellowships are awarded through a recent five-year grant of $3.25 million. The fellowship provides specialized training to students across the United States from historically underrepresented groups in the curatorial field and support the goal of promoting inclusive, pluralistic museums. The students begin their fellowships this fall.

Fellows will participate in The Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program during their undergraduate career, with the goal of continuing their education through graduate work. The two-year fellowship provides students with hands-on experience in a museum setting, assisting curators and staff on exhibitions, collections, and programs. Fellows are matched with a curatorial mentor at each museum who works to enrich

the academic experience and to increase exposure to the museum context while broadening their understanding of art and art history. Fellowships include regular engagement during the academic school year followed by full- time engagement over the summer.

Selected fellows for the 2018–20 program are as follows (full bios start further down):

  • Art Institute of Chicago: Kayleigh Doyen, University of Illinois Chicago; curatorial mentor: Elizabeth McGoey, Ann S. and Samuel M. Mencoff Associate Curator of American Decorative Arts, Department of American Art. Raphael Espinoza, University of Chicago; curatorial mentor: Erica Warren, Assistant Curator, Department of Textiles.
  • High Museum of Art: Kayla Gaskin, Emory University; curatorial mentor: Michael Rooks, Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. Taylor Roberts, Oglethorpe University; curatorial mentor: Claudia Einecke, Frances B. Bunzl Family Curator of European Art.
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art: Jabrea Patterson-West, University of Southern California; curatorial mentor: Stephanie Barron, Senior Curator and Department Head of Modern Art. Danielle Pesqueira, Whittier College; curatorial mentor: Rebecca Morse, Curator in the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department.
  • The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: Courtney Khim, University of Houston; curatorial mentors: Alison de Lima Greene, Isabel Brown Wilson Curator, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Kanitra Fletcher, Assistant Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art. Avani Sastry, Trinity University in San Antonio; curatorial mentor: Bradley Bailey, Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Curator of Asian Art.
  • The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: Anella Fernández, Kansas City Art Institute; curatorial mentor: Stephanie Fox Knappe, Samuel Sosland Curator, American Art. James Grau, Kansas City Art Institute; curatorial mentors: Catherine Futter, Director, Curatorial Affairs, and Sarah Biggerstaff, Curatorial Assistant to the Director, Curatorial Affairs.
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art: Yadierys (Yadi) Angeles-Figueroa, La Salle University; curatorial mentor: David L. Barquist, The H. Richard Dietrich, Jr., Curator of American Decorative Arts. Srujana (Suji) Kanneganti, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; curatorial mentor: Michelle Millar Fisher, The Louis C. Madeira IV Assistant Curator of European Decorative Arts.

“The Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship program is a critical component of the Art Institute’s efforts to nurture and empower emerging museum professionals,” said James Rondeau, President and Eloise W. Martin Director at the Art Institute of Chicago. “The impact of Mellon’s strategic leadership and generosity will be felt within the fields of art history and conservation—and by museum visitors—for generations to come.”

“It’s a privilege to be a part of this important work and thrilling to see the tremendous impact this program has on the participants, as well as their museum colleagues,” said Rand Suffolk, Nancy and Holcombe T. Greene, Jr., Director of the High Museum of Art. “These fellowships are helping us change the field. That’s remarkable and compelling work.”

“LACMA has an ongoing and vested interest in amplifying diverse and varied voices that have not previously been heard in museum leadership and the curatorial field,” said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director. “We are pleased to continue in this effort with our five partnering institutions.”

“Once again the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is honored to have this latest class of fellows join our curatorial colleagues,” commented Gary Tinterow, Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. “With each year, we in museums have seen the growing urgency to provide pathways for underrepresented students to the museum field and assure the diversity of its future. All of us at the MFAH are proud to be part of this crucial effort with our partners from across the country.”

“We are extremely grateful that The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation continues to support this vital program to shape a dynamic and relevant future for museums,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “The fresh voices offered by these talented fellows play an important role in defining how museums can best serve their communities, and encourages collaboration across curatorial divisions.”

“The first year of our participation in The Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program could not have been more rewarding,” said Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “The Summer Academy attracted a remarkable group of students: bright, engaged, and eager to learn about all that a career in museums might offer them. We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for initiating this Fellowship program. It will help to nurture the development of a more diverse workforce as museums respond to a changing world.”


Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellows

Art Institute of Chicago

Kayleigh Doyen is a third-year student studying art history and museum studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Doyen is a first-generation college student and has earned numerous scholarships while furthering her education, including recognition from the National Hispanic Scholarship Fund. In high school, Doyen developed a passion for museum work while working as a museum technician at the Bay County Historical Society. Since beginning her undergraduate career, Doyen has completed internships alongside curators at the National Museum of Mexican Art and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Outside of museum work, Doyen is completing the second year of her fellowship with America Needs You, a nonprofit providing professional development for low- income, first-generation college students. Doyen’s focus is in contemporary American art and she is interested in using her career to elevate underrepresented narratives within American art museums. She is currently working on her undergraduate thesis, which will discuss Latino futurist interdisciplinary art in the U.S. circa 1960. Her curatorial mentor is Elizabeth McGoey, Ann S. and Samuel M. Mencoff Associate Curator of American Decorative Arts, Department of American Art.

Raphael Espinoza is a third-year student at the University of Chicago, double majoring in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and art history. He identifies as a first-generation Queer Purépecha Xicano, who grew up in a working-poor household amidst Chicago’s Michoacano transnational networks. In other words, he grew up with Mexicans in pre-gentrified Rogers Park and Berwyn-Cicero. Espinoza is from a mixed-status family and knows what it is like to navigate poor urban Head Start through 12th grade public schools as well as elite institutions of higher education. He is intimately invested in Latin American Indigenous identity and culture, including contemporary and pre-Hispanic art. Additionally, he has a deep affection for the art of drag, Mexican food, R&B, and Reggaeton. Espinoza’s curatorial mentor is Erica Warren, assistant curator in the Department of Textiles.

High Museum of Art

Kayla Gaskin is a third-year student at Emory University, majoring in art history with a concentration in arts administration through the Goizueta Business School. Her most fervent topical inquiries include 20th-century collage and assemblage works, the Black American artistic tradition, and works that sit outside the margins of the mainstream. In addition to her love for the arts, she currently serves as the vice president of the Nu Alpha chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Her curatorial mentor is Michael Rooks, Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Taylor Roberts is a second-year student at Oglethorpe University studying arts administration and communications. Her background in museums includes volunteering in several roles at the Adler Planetarium and the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art as part of a service learning program. Roberts has volunteered in curatorial departments in several museums since 2014 and recently curated OUMA Nights, a student art exhibition at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. In the future, Roberts plans to obtain a master’s degree in art history, with the goal of becoming a curatorial consultant with a focus on community engagement. Her curatorial mentor is Claudia Einecke, Frances B. Bunzl Family Curator of European Art.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Jabrea Patterson-West is a third-year student and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellow at the University of Southern California, studying art history and French. As a student, she has garnered her passion for fine art by working in galleries, LACMA’s exhibitions department, and through her school’s Art History Student Association. She focuses her research on contemporary black queer artists and the manifestation of the black radical imagination through their work. Her interests extend more broadly to figurative painting, post-war sculpture, and abstract expressionist painting. Through her studies, she hopes to bring new and diverse perspectives to the art world, while highlighting works by under- represented artists. Her curatorial mentor is Stephanie Barron, Senior Curator and Department Head of Modern Art.

Danielle Pesqueira is a second-year student at Whittier College this fall, where she will continue pursuing her art history major with a gender studies minor. She is an admissions ambassador and a tour guide on her campus. Pesqueira has lived in Pico Rivera, California, all her life, and has particular interests in curatorial museum work and professorship in the field of art history. Pesqueira, a lover of art in its many forms, is also a three-time published poet. Through her education and experiences as a Latinx woman, she hopes to solidify her own knowledge and continue to celebrate culturally diverse points of view in the museum. It is her goal to one day be able to educate intersectionalized youth about art, particularly women artists. Rebecca Morse, Curator in the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department, is her curatorial mentor.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Courtney Khim is a fourth-year student attending the University of Houston and is majoring in art with a double minor in art history and German. Khim has contributed to the work and mission of collections and art galleries in the city of Houston: she currently interns and is also a docent for the curatorial department of Blaffer Art Museum, the contemporary art museum of the University of Houston; she serves as social coordinator and community organizer for the Blaffer Art Museum Student Association (BAMSA); and she was an art administration intern at DiverseWorks, a nonprofit arts organization that supports new and daring art through innovative collaboration. Her practice as an art student focuses on color theory and identity through mixed-media painting. As a fellow, Khim seeks to continue pursuing her passion for contemporary art while further developing her practice as an artist and curator. Her curatorial mentors are Alison de Lima Greene, Isabel Brown Wilson Curator, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Kanitra Fletcher, Assistant Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art.

Avani Sastry is a second-year student majoring in art history and history at Trinity University in San Antonio. Before discovering her passion for art history and the curatorial field, Sastry explored a wide range of fields, from plant biology research at the University of Texas, to reviewing films for the Austin Film Festival, to

interning at the creative writing education nonprofit Gemini Ink. As a Mellon Fellow, Sastry is interested in applying her diverse experiences to her curatorial practice while pursuing her passion for modern and contemporary South Asian art, with an emphasis on post-colonialism, the desi diaspora, and issues of gender and sexuality. Her curatorial mentor is Bradley Bailey, Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Curator of Asian Art.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Anella Fernández is a second-year student majoring in art history and fiber at the Kansas City Art Institute. Born in Santiago de Cuba and raised in Miami, she became interested in the different cultures that surrounded her. Fernández attended Design and Architecture Senior High (DASH), a design-centered magnet program where she studied architecture and art. There, she gained a great appreciation for process making and design. As an intern, Fernández helped curate the studio work of artist Sheila Elias, and she continues to work annually with AIA Miami in the Architects In the Making (AIM) program, teaching and assisting with the display of a final show. Anella’s travel to Florence and visits to the galleries of the Uffizi and the Galleria dell'Accademia inspired her to pursue curatorial studies. Fernández’s curatorial mentor is Stephanie Fox Knappe, Samuel Sosland Curator, American Art.

James Grau is a third-year student studying art history and filmmaking at the Kansas City Art Institute. He became interested in museums during his travels throughout Europe as a child and during his military career, leading to his fascination with antiquarian manuscripts and manuals. KCAI’s art history program ignited Grau’s passion for art history, augmenting his post-military studies in international relations and cultural diplomacy. After graduating KCAI in 2020, Grau will pursue postgraduate degrees in art history and museum studies. When not producing or consuming film and audio works, Grau dives into his book collection, travels to the Rocky Mountains, and works as a projectionist at a fine arts

cinema. Grau’s short film, "Negative Zero," was featured at KCAI’s Alamo Drafthouse 2017 Film & Animation Show. His most recent work, "Certain Gravity," an audio drama, was featured at KCAI’s Spring 2018 Film & Animation Show, and was an official selection for 2018’s HEAR Now Festival. Grau’s curatorial mentors are Catherine Futter, Director, Curatorial Affairs and Sarah Biggerstaff, Curatorial Assistant to the Director, Curatorial Affairs.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Yadierys (Yadi) Angeles-Figueroa is a third-year student at La Salle University with a major in digital arts and multimedia design and a minor in art history. She has always had a love for creating art, and upon discovering museums in her city, has developed a passion for the cultures preserved in art. Through an internship program called Studio Institute, Angeles-Figueroa worked as an exhibits programming intern for the Independence Seaport Museum. This introduced her to the day-to-day activities of working in a museum. One of her biggest projects there was to create programming for an event titled Teatime with Turtles. This experience opened her eyes to the world of museums, and she aspires to learn more about different cultures and what stories their art portrays. Currently, her interests lie in improving her knowledge of art both as an artist and as a future curator and using those experiences to spread the joys of art throughout the community. Angeles-Figueroa’s curatorial mentor is David L. Barquist, The H. Richard Dietrich, Jr. Curator of American Decorative Arts.

Srujana (Suji) Kanneganti is a third-year student attending Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PaFA) in Philadelphia who intends to pursue sculpture and painting. Before attending PaFA, she majored in biology and psychology at Rutgers University. Kanneganti aspires to bridge the gaps between her varying interests and engage audiences in unique ways. As a Mellon Fellow, she is particularly interested in pushing contemporary art to be more diverse, accessible, and engaging beyond the art elite. Kanneganti is also a content writer for the nonprofit gallery InLiquid Art+Design and teaches youth art classes—all of which relates to her goal of inspiring a variety of people with the arts. Kanneganti’s curatorial mentor is Michelle Millar Fisher, The Louis C. Madeira IV Assistant Curator of European Decorative Arts.


Media Contacts

Art Institute of Chicago
Kati Murphy | Executive Director of Public Affairs | 312 443-3758 | kmurphy5@aic.edu

High Museum of Art
Marci Davis | Manager of Public Relations | 404 733-4585 | marci.davis@high.org

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Miranda Carroll | Senior Communications Director | 323 857-6543 | mcarroll@lacma.org
Erin Yokomizo | Senior Communications Associate | 323 932-5825 | eyokomizo@lacma.org

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH)
Mary Haus | Marketing and Communications Director | 713 639-7712 | mhaus@mfah.org
Kathryn Jernigan | Publicist | 713 639-7516 | kjernigan@mfah.org

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Kathleen Leighton | Manager, Media Relations and Video Production | 816 751-1321 | kleighton@nelson- atkins.org

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Norman Keyes | Director of Communications | 215 684-7862 | nkeyes@philamuseum.org


About the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is a world-renowned art museum housing one of the largest permanent collections in the United States. An encyclopedic museum, the Art Institute collects, preserves, and displays works in every medium from all cultures and historical periods as well as hosts special exhibitions. With a collection of approximately 300,000 works of art, the museum has particularly strong holdings in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting, early 20th century European painting and sculpture, contemporary art, Japanese prints, and photography. The museum’s 2009 addition, the Modern Wing, features the latest in green museum technology and 264,000 square feet dedicated to modern and contemporary art, photography, architecture and design, and new learning and public engagement facilities. In addition to displaying its permanent collection, the Art Institute mounts approximately 35 special exhibitions per year and features lectures, gallery tours, and special performances on a daily basis.
Location and Contact: 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603 | 312 443-3600 | www.artic.edu

About the High Museum of Art

The High is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States, housed within facilities designed by Pritzker Prize- winning architects Richard Meier and Renzo Piano. With more than 16,000 works of art, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American fine and decorative arts; major holdings of photography and folk and self-taught work, especially that reflective of the American south; burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art including paintings, sculpture, new media, and design; a growing collection of African art with work dating from pre-history to the present day; and significant holdings of European paintings and works on paper. The High is dedicated to a program reflective of the diversity of its communities, offering a variety of exhibitions and educational programs as well as a host of new experiences that engage visitors with the world of art, the lives of artists and the creative process.
Location and Contact: 1280 Peachtree Street, N.E., Atlanta, GA 30309 | 404 733-4400 | www.high.org

About the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Since its inception in 1965, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has been devoted to collecting works of art that span both history and geography, mirroring Los Angeles’s rich cultural heritage and uniquely diverse population. Today LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection of over 139,000 objects that illuminate 6,000 years of art history from new and unexpected points of view. A museum of international stature as well as a vital cultural center for Southern California, LACMA shares its vast collection with the Greater Los Angeles County and beyond through exhibitions, public programs, and research facilities that attract over 1.5 million visitors annually, in addition to serving millions more through community partnerships, school outreach programs, and creative digital initiatives. LACMA’s main campus is located halfway between the ocean and downtown, adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum and the future home of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Dedicated to serving all of Los Angeles, LACMA collaborates with a range of curators, educators, and artists on exhibitions and programs at various sites throughout the County.
Location and Contact: 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036 | 323 857-6000 | www.lacma.org

About The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH)

Founded in 1900, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is among the 10 largest art museums in the United States. Located in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, the MFAH comprises two gallery buildings, a sculpture garden, theater, two art schools and two libraries, with two house museums, for American and European decorative arts, nearby. The encyclopedic collection of the MFAH numbers some 65,000 works and spans the art of antiquity to the present.
Location and Contact: 1001 Bissonnet, Houston, TX 77005 | 713 639-7300 | www.mfah.org

About The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City is recognized nationally and internationally as one of America’s finest art museums. The Nelson-Atkins serves the community by providing access and insight into its renowned collection of more than 33,500 art objects and is best known for its Asian art, European and American paintings, photography, modern sculpture, and new American Indian and Egyptian galleries. Housing a major art research library and the Ford Learning Center, the Museum is a key educational resource for the region. The institution-wide transformation of the Nelson-Atkins has included the 165,000- square-foot Bloch Building expansion and renovation of the original 1933 Nelson-Atkins Building. The Nelson-Atkins is committed to connecting people of all ages with meaningful art experiences. Through its partnerships with Kansas City community, civic, and cultural organizations and the national and international arts community, The Nelson-Atkins welcomes and engages the diverse population of Kansas City and the surrounding region with enriching exhibitions, cultural programs, and educational activities.
Location and Contact: 4525 Oak Street, Kansas City, MO 64111 | 816 751-1278 | www.nelson-atkins.org

About the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is Philadelphia’s art museum. A place that welcomes everyone. A world-renowned collection. A landmark building. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world— and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.
Location and Contact: Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19130 | 215 763-8100 | www.philamuseum.org

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies. To this end, it supports exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. The Foundation makes grants in five core program areas: Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities; Arts and Cultural Heritage; Diversity; Scholarly Communications; and International Higher Education and Strategic Projects. www.mellon.org


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