The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art today announced that Amy Smith-Stewart has been appointed Chief Curator after nine years at the museum, first as Curator, and more recently as Senior Curator. Smith-Stewart succeeds Richard Klein who retired as Director of Exhibitions at the Aldrich on June 10 after more than thirty years at the Museum.
Smith-Stewart said, “It is a tremendous honor to be the first woman to head the exhibition department at Aldrich. The Aldrich has a long history of supporting visionary artists at critical times in their careers. During my nine years in office, the curatorial vision of the Museum has continued to grow with more surprising and ambitious exhibitions and important publications. Next year we will launch a new Artist Fee initiative and embark on a project to improve and update our campus to increase opportunities for artists and ensure better access for all. the communities. The artist is always at the center of The Aldrich. Together, with a creative and collaborative team, we will work to discover and amplify new and under-recognized voices in the field.
Smith-Stewart joined The Aldrich as a curator in 2013 and since then has curated forty-two exhibitions and projects at the Museum. His unique perspective has brought artists to The Aldrich at important stages in their careers, including early solo museum showings with artists Milano Chow, Lucia Hierro, Genesis Belanger, Eva LeWitt, Jessi Reaves and exhibitions investigation with Jackie Winsor, Ruth Root, Suzanne McClelland, Harmony Hammond and Karla Knight. Smith-Stewart’s latest exhibition, 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone, opened at The Aldrich on June 6 and is on view until January 8, 2023. 52 Artists revisits the landmark exhibition Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists, curated by Lucy R. Lippard at The Aldrich in 1971, and joined her with a new list of twenty-six self-identifying, non-binary emerging artists to track the evolution of feminist art practices over half a century.
Cybele Maylone, Executive Director, shared: “For nearly a decade, Amy Smith-Stewart has been a central voice in The Aldrich’s exhibition programming, partnering with artists on shows that have captured the attention of our audience and critics. Being the Museum’s Chief Curator is the next natural step in her leadership, and I’m excited to work with her in this new role.
Board Chair Diana Bowes said: “I am absolutely delighted with the promotion of Amy Smith-Stewart to the position of Chief Curator of The Aldrich. Over the past nine years, she has made her mark at the Museum with shows as varied as Material Witness by Harmony Hammond, The Domestic Plane, Continuous Service Altered Daily by David Brooks, and of course now 52 artists. She immersed herself in the philosophy of the Museum and did an incredible job of advancing our mission to provide a platform for emerging artists and under-recognized mid-career artists. She is fearless, has a fresh voice, an innate curiosity and a thirst for learning.
Xaviera Simmons, whose Underscore exhibition was Smith-Stewart’s first exhibition at The Aldrich, shared, “Amy Smith-Stewart showed incredible clarity in organizing my Underscore exhibition as her first exhibition at The Aldrich, which was a wonderful project for my studio. The exposure and scope of the project was rigorous and challenging and Amy worked with me carefully to push the boundaries of time-based performance. She is engaged and thoughtful. Congratulations Amy!”
“Amy’s conservation record is exemplary. Working with established and emerging artists, she sets the highest standards. I loved collaborating with Amy. Her understanding and selection of artwork for my survey exhibit was on the mark, and the installation was thoughtful and beautiful. Amy is first class! Top notch,” shared artist Harmony Hammond, whose five-decade-long investigation Material Witness was presented at the Museum in 2019.
“This news gives me so much joy! I had the honor of working with Amy Smith-Stewart on my first solo museum exhibition Marginal Costs in 2021. Amy made sure to process the experience in a way that honored the milestone. During our studio visits, no detail was ever too small or out of place – I would mention a book in passing and by the next visit she had already finished it. She has remained flexible and supportive during the pandemic. I will never forget how I felt working together. I look forward to all the amazing shows at The Aldrich! Well done Amy!” shared artist Lucia Hierro.
Artist Karla Knight, whose first solo exhibition at the Navigator Museum was at The Aldrich in 2021-2022, said: “Working with Amy Smith-Stewart on Navigator has been a life-changing experience for me. She is an artist’s dream curator, fiercely visionary in her pursuit of mystery and brilliantly fearless in her choices. I look forward to seeing Amy’s future exhibitions at The Aldrich.”
In addition to her work with The Aldrich, Smith-Stewart has curated over seventy exhibitions in museums, collections, galleries and temporary spaces. She is the founder of the eponymous nomadic curatorial project, Smith-Stewart, previously located on the Lower East Side from 2007 to 2009. She began her career as a curator at PS1. Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1), where she has mounted nineteen exhibitions and projects, including first solo museum presentations with artists Adrian Paci, Mika Rottenberg, Taryn Simon and Aleksandra Mir, as well as group exhibitions, including Day Labor and Greater New York 2005 (co-curator).
From 2006 to 2007, she was Curatorial Advisor for the Mary Boone Gallery, where she curated a series of group exhibitions showcasing a new generation of artists at the gallery. She has curated exhibitions at Socrates Sculpture Park and the Noguchi Museum and was guest curator from 2006 to 2008 for the Peter Norton Collection. She has served on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts, the Fine Arts Department of the MFA, and the Contemporary Art Program at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, MA.
His writings have appeared in books and catalogs published by Taschen, Gregory R. Miller & Co., Revolver Publishing, Bates College Museum of Art, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, KW Institute for Contemporary Art and Charta, amongst others.