The Studio Museum in Harlem has hired Amber Esseiva to serve as its first-ever curator-at-large. Esseiva arrives to the newly created role at the New York institution from the Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where she is currently a curator. Known for an eye for rising talent, Esseiva gave artists including South African multimedia artist Dineo Seshee Bopape; New York–based artist, composer, and performer Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste; and Berlin- and London-based artist and writer Kandis Williams, who focuses on collage, assemblage, and performance art, their first or earliest solo exhibitions in the US.
“Over her notable career, Amber has worked closely with artists across all disciplines, demonstrated a commitment to cross-departmental collaboration, developed large-scale commissions, and led efforts in advancing and applying ethical institutional practices,” said Studio Museum director Thelma Golden. “We are delighted to have her as a partner in this exciting and transformative moment of growth.”
The growth Golden refers to is the museum’s forthcoming David Adjaye–designed expansion. First announced in 2015, the new structure was projected to cost $124 million and is slated to be completed in 2024. Besides providing 11,000 square feet of exhibition space, the new structure located on Harlem’s storied 125th Street will house a rooftop terrace, space for education programming, and offices.
“The Studio Museum’s legacy is one that I have always carried with me in my mind and heart,” said Esseiva, “and so to have the opportunity to apply my admiration toward the planning of the Museum’s new building is tremendous.”
In addition to her work at the Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, Esseiva has been a visiting lecturer for the University of California, Los Angeles; Maryland Institute College of Art; American University; and Columbia University. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University and holds a master’s degree from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. In her new capacity at the Studio Museum in Harlem, she will work with the curatorial team to stage exhibitions and acquire work for the museum’s collection; manage artist relationships; and continue the institution’s artist advocacy work.