BAMPFA Signals New Direction for Curatorial Department with Three Senior Appointments

Margot Norton, Chief Curator
Victoria Sung, Phyllis C. Wattis Senior Curator
Anthony Graham, Senior Curator 

Appointees Join BAMPFA From New Museum, Walker Art Center, and MCA San Diego Following Nationwide Search 

(Berkeley, CA) February 21, 2023—The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) announced today the appointment of three senior-level curators, following a nationwide recruitment process. Starting this spring, BAMPFA’s curatorial team will be led by Margot Norton, who joins the museum as Chief Curator following her current role as the Allen and Lola Goldring Senior Curator at the New Museum in New York City. Norton is one of three new curators who will join BAMPFA this spring, along with two senior curators: Victoria Sung of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and Anthony Graham of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

These appointments advance an ambitious new vision for BAMPFA under Executive Director Julie Rodrigues Widholm, who has restructured the museum’s curatorial program during her 30-month tenure. A key focus of the curators’ work will be activating BAMPFA’s internationally distinguished 28,000-work collection to advance new programming strategies, with an increased emphasis on modern and contemporary art from Black diasporic, global Asian, and Latinx communities. The team will oversee the launch of new national and international partnerships for BAMPFA while also deepening the museum’s relationship with the world-renowned scholarly community of UC Berkeley, in part through the inauguration of a new faculty teaching gallery later this year.

“I’m thrilled to welcome these three outstanding new colleagues to BAMPFA, where I know they’ll be successful in fulfilling our highest aspirations for the museum’s curatorial program,” said Widholm. “After an extensive national search, it was truly a dream come true to secure our first-choice candidates for each of these three vitally important roles, which will collectively reinvigorate BAMPFA’s art program with a renewed commitment to community engagement, academic scholarship, and contemporary relevance. These appointments signal a new direction for BAMPFA as an institution that brings a socially engaged, twenty-first century perspective to its global collections to reimagine a more inclusive art historical canon. Fortunately for us, these are areas where Margot, Victoria, and Anthony each bring impressive track records of accomplishment as distinguished curators who share our vision for leading change in museums: an approach that is interdisciplinary, international, and intersectional in its scope, and highly collaborative in its execution. I know we will do great things together, and I’m looking forward to working with each of them to write a vibrant next chapter for BAMPFA.” 

About Margot Norton

Margot Norton begins her tenure as BAMPFA’s chief curator on May 1. Her relocation to Berkeley follows a twelve-year tenure at the New Museum in New York, where she has served in a series of progressively senior curatorial roles since 2011. In her current position as the Allen and Lola Goldring Senior Curator, Norton has been central to shaping the exhibition program at the New Museum, one of the most acclaimed contemporary art institutions in the United States. In 2021, she organized and co-curated with Jamillah James the fifth installment of the New Museum Triennial, an internationally prestigious showcase for the most promising emerging artists from around the world.

Since joining the New Museum as an assistant curator in 2011, Norton has organized dozens of acclaimed exhibitions of work by some of the most vital artists of the twenty-first century, including Carmen Argote, Diedrick Brackens, Pia Camil, Sarah Lucas, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Goshka Macuga, Chris Ofili, Pipilotti Rist, Mika Rottenberg, Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, and Kaari Upson, among many others. She also curated and co-curated a number of group exhibitions at the New Museum including This End the Sun (2021); The Keeper (2016); Here and Elsewhere (2014); and NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash, and No Star (2013). She is currently co-curating with Vivian Crockett a highly anticipated survey of work by Wangechi Mutu, which opens at the New Museum on March 2, 2023. Another of her upcoming exhibitions, Pepón Osorio: My Beating Heart / Mi corazón latiente, will open at the New Museum on June 29, 2023. 

Beyond her curatorial work at the New Museum, Norton has been active in the international contemporary art community, curating the Eighth Sequences Real Time Art Festival in Reykjavik in 2017 and the Georgian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale with artist Anna K.E. in 2019. She has also organized multiple international partnerships for the New Museum, including curatorial collaborations with DESTE Foundation in Athens and the Borusan Foundation in Istanbul. Norton has edited and contributed to numerous exhibition catalogs, both published by the New Museum and with major publishers such as Phaidon Press and Rizzoli, and she regularly delivers lectures and participates in panel discussions on a range of contemporary art topics. She began her museum career as a curatorial assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2008 after receiving her Master’s Degree in Curatorial Studies from Columbia University, and she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History with Honors from the University of Vermont.

“Having long admired BAMPFA’s adventurous and innovative program, I am deeply honored to take on the challenges and embrace the possibilities of leading the curatorial team at this exciting moment for the institution,” said Norton. “BAMPFA’s focus on critical dialogue through art and film aligns with my own commitment to amplifying the work of artists with diverse perspectives and fostering meaningful connections to audiences locally and internationally. I enthusiastically look forward to working with Julie Rodrigues Widholm, the entire BAMPFA team, the students and faculty of UC Berkeley, and Bay Area communities in continuing and expanding upon the museum’s vital mission.”

Following her arrival at BAMPFA, Norton will lead a seven-person curatorial department at one of the nation’s leading university museums, embedded on the campus of the premier public research university in the United States. As Chief Curator, Norton will oversee BAMPFA’s art exhibition program, working closely with her curatorial colleagues and guest curators to advance a newvision for BAMPFA that deepens the museum’s commitment to artists from historically marginalized communities. Norton’s appointment completes the staffing of BAMPFA’s senior leadership team under the directorship of Widholm, who has made fivesenior-level appointments since she began her tenure in August 2020.

About Victoria Sung

Victoria Sung will begin her new role as BAMPFA’s Phyllis C. Wattis Senior Curator on March 1 following her tenure at the Walker Art Center, where she currently serves as Associate Curator of Visual Arts. During her eight years at the Walker, Sung has organized some of the most acclaimed exhibitions in the museum’s recent history, including the large-scale artist surveys Theaster Gates: Assembly Hall (2019) and Siah Armajani: Follow This Line (2018). Her final project at the Walker, the firstretrospective exhibition on the contemporary Philippine American artist Pacita Abad, opens on April 15 prior to an international tour and will be accompanied by a major catalog publication edited by Sung.

In addition to her work on the Walker’s exhibition program, Sung has played an active role in strengthening the museum’s collection of 13,000 modern and contemporary artworks, overseeing important gifts and purchases of work by emerging and established artists, including Abad, Patty Chang, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Suki Seokyeong Kang, Ellen Lesperance, Park Chan-kyong, Jacolby Satterwhite, Stephanie Syjuco, and Haegue Yang, among others. Sung has also revitalized the Walker’s commissioning program, collaborating on the development of new work with artists such as Pao Houa Her (Paj qaum ntuj / Flowers of the Sky, 2022), Shen Xin (Brine Lake, A New Body, 2021), Rayyane Tabet (Deep Blues, 2021), and Laure Prouvost (They Are Waiting for You, 2017). One of Sung’s most notable recent commissioning projects is Seeping, Rotting, Resting, Weeping, a multisensory environment made during the pandemic by the Los Angeles-based artist Candice Lin and organized in partnership with Harvard’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts; the project received its West Coast premiere at BAMPFA, where it was hailed by KQED as the best cat-themed art exhibition of 2022. 

Sung previously worked at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. She has contributed to exhibition projects at international art institutions, including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, and NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, and regularly writes and lectures on contemporary art. She has also held positions on multiple boards, juries, and advisory panels both internationally and in the Twin Cities arts community—most recently serving as a board member of Second Shift Studio Space, a yearlong artist residency program for women and gender-nonconforming artists. Sung holds a Master’s Degree in the History of Art and Visual Culture from the University of Oxford, as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Harvard University.

“I am delighted to join Julie, Margot, Anthony, and the remarkable team at BAMPFA,” said Sung. “Together, I look forward to reinvigorating the museum’s commitment to artists and audiences, creating dynamic platforms for experimentation and exchange, centering marginalized histories, and building upon UC Berkeley and the wider Bay Area’s deep-rooted legacy of creative and collective change.”

In her new role as the Phyllis C. Wattis Senior Curator, Sung will focus primarily on organizing exhibitions and commissions of modern and contemporary art, a longtime area of strength for BAMPFA that will become increasingly central to the museum’s exhibition program going forward. In partnership with her new colleagues, Sung will oversee BAMPFA’s signature MATRIX program, a changing series of exhibitions that highlights distinctive and important voices in contemporary art. Working closely with Widholm, Norton, and the BAMPFA leadership team, Sung will play a key role in shaping the museum’s curatorial strategy as it enters a new chapter of deepening engagement with the international contemporary art world.

About Anthony Graham

Anthony Graham began as BAMPFA’s Senior Curator remotely last month and will start in person on March 20. He previously served as Associate Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, where he curated and co-curated more than a dozen exhibitions over the course of his seven-year tenure, helping to advance the exhibition program and collection at one of Southern California’s leading contemporary art institutions. Most recently, he organized Alexis Smith: The American Way, the first major retrospective and publication of the artist’s work in thirty years, which opened at MCASD to great acclaim in September 2022. Graham has also worked on solo exhibitions with artists Griselda Rosas, Nancy Lupo, and Sadie Barnette. He worked extensively with the museum’s collection, including the acquisition of works by Sadie Barnette, Math Bass, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Louis Fratino, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Christina Quarles, Alison Saar, and Tschabalala Self, among others, and coordinated the donation of several bequests to the museum. He also organized several thematic exhibitions from MCASD’s collection and co-curated the inaugural installation of the renovated collection galleries at the museum’s La Jolla location. Graham has also worked to fulfill MCASD’s commitment to engaging artists and audiences from the binational San Diego/Tijuana region, curating group exhibitions like Being Here with You/Cuando Estoy Contigo42 Artists from San Diego and Tijuana (with co-curator Jill Dawsey). He also served as exhibition and publication coordinator for Memories of Underdevelopment: Art and the Decolonial Turn in Latin America, 1960-1985, MCASD’s contribution to the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Graham led a successful initiative to shift MCASD’s program online, working with colleagues to launch the virtual programming portal MCASD.Digital that enabled the museum to remain engaged with its audiences during an extended closure. He also deepened MCASD’s relationship to UC San Diego, overseeing an annual exhibition of work by artists in the Visual Arts MFA program in the museum’s galleries and organizing multiple exhibitions on the UCSD campus—experience that will be directly applicable to his future collaborations with UC Berkeley’s art practice and history of art departments. His art writing has been featured in several exhibition catalogs as well as the San Diego-based online journal HereIn and The Los Angeles Review of Books.

Prior to joining MCASD in 2015, Graham held multiple positions as a researcher and archivist, contributing to projects at Storefront for Art and Architecture, the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, and Columbia Books on Architecture and the City. Graham holds a Master’s Degree in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture from Columbia University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from the University of San Diego, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Visual Studies at UC Irvine.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the BAMPFA team during this pivotal moment for the institution,” said Graham. “I am so looking forward to working with the museum’s expansive collection, from the recent bequest of African American quilts to the deep holdings of Conceptual Art to the strong collection of Ming and Qing paintings. The collection at BAMPFA is really a singular resource for bringing forward new conversations across time and place and for rethinking the narratives of art history–in museums, but especially on a campus like UC Berkeley. 

As BAMPFA’s Senior Curator, Graham will focus primarily on animating the museum’s 28,000-work art collection, advancing the museum’s deepening emphasis on modern and contemporary programming and showcasing artists from historically underrepresented communities. Building on his experience working with UCSD, Graham will oversee the launch of a new faculty teaching gallery at BAMPFA in partnership with UC Berkeley, and he will additionally lead the museum’s Cal Conversations series of student-curated exhibitions. His appointment along with Norton and Sung completes the staffing of BAMPFA’s newly restructured art curatorial department, which also includes Associate Curators Stephanie Cannizzo and Elaine Yau, Curatorial Assistant Claire Frost, and a new curatorial assistant who will be appointed soon.

Posted by afox on February 17, 2023