International Lecture Series

Valerie Cassel Oliver: Funk Lessons: Black Performance in Contemporary Art

Valerie Cassel Oliver is Senior Curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH). In Cassel Oliver’s lecture, she will discuss her ground-breaking exhibition, Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art. The exhibition chronicled the rich history of performance and its prevalence in black artistic practices since the 1960s. Prior to the exhibition, little scholarship existed on the rise and persistence of black performance traditions emerging strictly from the framework of visual arts. Cassel Oliver's exhibition and its accompanying catalogue provided a critical framework for discourse and an expansion of the cannon around performance art and the contributions of black artist to its pervasiveness in contemporary art practice. At CAMH, Cassel Oliver has organized numerous exhibitions including Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image with Dr. Andrea Barnwell Brownlee (2009); the acclaimed Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art Since 1970 (2005); and survey exhibitions featuring Angel Otero (2016), Jennie C. Jones (2015) and Trenton Doyle Hancock (2014).

Her forthcoming exhibition, opening August 2017, is Annabeth Rosen: Fired, Broken, Gathered, Heaped. Prior to CAMH, she was director of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Visiting Artist Program and a program specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts. Among numerous honours, Cassel Oliver was awarded the Carol and Arthur Goldberg Foundation-to-Life Visiting Curator fellowship at Hunter College in 2016. In 2000, she was one of six curators selected to organize the Biennial for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Cassel Oliver is currently a Senior Curatorial Fellow for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Advanced Curatorial Practices seminar and practicum.