The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum announced today that Amy Smith-Stewart has been named Chief Curator after nine years at the Museum acting first as Curator, and most recently as Senior Curator. Smith-Stewart succeeds Richard Klein who retired from his position as The Aldrich’s Exhibitions Director on June 10 after over thirty years at the Museum.
Smith-Stewart said: “It is a tremendous honor to be the first woman to lead The Aldrich’s exhibitions department. The Aldrich has a long history of supporting visionary artists at critical points of their careers. During my nine-year tenure, the curatorial vision for the Museum has continued to grow with more surprising and ambitious exhibitions and significant publications. Next year, we will commence a new artist honoraria initiative and embark on a project to improve and update our campus to increase opportunities for artists and ensure better access for all communities. The artist is always at the center at The Aldrich. Together, with a creative and collaborative team, we will work to uncover and amplify new and under-recognized voices in the field.”
Smith-Stewart joined The Aldrich as Curator in 2013 and since then she has organized forty-two exhibitions and projects at the Museum. Her unique perspective has brought artists to The Aldrich during important stages of their careers including first solo museum presentations with artists Milano Chow, Lucia Hierro, Genesis Belanger, Eva LeWitt, Jessi Reaves, and survey shows 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 through January 8, 2023. 52 Artists revisits the historic exhibition Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists, curated by Lucy R. Lippard at The Aldrich in 1971, and joins it with a new roster of twenty-six female identifying and nonbinary emerging artists to track the evolution of feminist art practices over half a century.
Cybele Maylone, Executive Director, shared: “For almost ten years 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 alike. Serving as the Museum’s Chief Curator is the natural next step in her leadership, and I am excited to work with her in this new role.”
Board Chair Diana Bowes shared: “I am absolutely delighted with Amy Smith-Stewart’s promotion to Chief Curator at The Aldrich. For the last nine years, she has made her mark at the Museum—with shows as varied as Harmony Hammond’s Material Witness, to The Domestic Plane, to David Brooks’ Continuous Service Altered Daily, and of course now 52 Artists. She has soaked up the ethos of the Museum and done an incredible job of furthering our mission of providing a platform for emerging artists and under-recognized mid-career artists. She is fearless, has a fresh voice, innate curiosity, and a hunger to learn.”
Xaviera Simmons, whose exhibition Underscore was the first Smith-Stewart organized at The Aldrich, shared: “Amy Smith-Stewart showed incredible clarity curating my exhibition Underscore as her first exhibition at The Aldrich, which was a wonderful project for my studio. The exhibition and scope of the project was rigorous and challenging and Amy worked with me with care to push the boundaries of long form, time-based performance. She is engaged and thoughtful. Congratulations Amy!”
“Amy’s curatorial track record is exemplary. Working with both well-known and emerging artists, she sets the highest standards. I loved collaborating with Amy. Her understanding and selection of art works for my survey exhibition was on the mark, and the installation was thoughtful and beautiful. Amy is first class! Top notch,” shared artist Harmony Hammond, whose five-decade survey Material Witness was on view at the Museum in 2019.
“This news brings me so much joy! I had the honor of working with Amy Smith-Stewart on my first museum solo show Marginal Costs in 2021. Amy made sure to treat the experience in a way that honored the milestone. During our studio visits, no detail was ever too small or irrelevant—I would mention a book in passing and by the next visit she had already finished it. She remained flexible and supportive through the pandemic. I’ll never forget how seen I felt working together. I look forward to all the amazing shows at The Aldrich! Cheers Amy!” shared artist Lucia Hierro.
Artist Karla Knight, whose first solo Museum exhibition Navigator was on view at The Aldrich in 2021-22, said: “Working with Amy Smith-Stewart on Navigator was 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 can’t wait to see Amy’s future exhibitions at The Aldrich.”
In addition to her work with The Aldrich, Smith-Stewart has organized more than 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 2007-09. She began her career as a curator at P.S.1. Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1), where she mounted nineteen exhibitions and projects including first museum solo 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 2006-07, she was a Curatorial Advisor for the Mary Boone Gallery, where she organized a series of group exhibitions introducing a new generation of artists to the Gallery. She has organized exhibitions at Socrates Sculpture Park and the Noguchi Museum and was the 2006-08 Guest Curator for the Peter Norton Collection. She has served on the faculty at the School of the Visual Arts, MFA Fine Arts department, and the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, MA Contemporary Art program.
Her writing has appeared in books and catalogues published by Taschen, Gregory R. Miller & Co., Revolver Publishing, Bates College Museum of Art, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, and Charta, among others.