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In-Conversation: Art & Social Justice
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AAMC is pleased to be hosting the next of our In-Conversation series, Art & Social Justice. Five prominent arts leaders will come together for a timely and important roundtable discussion focused on the arts and curatorial interventions as direct and active vehicles for social change.

When: Tuesday, March 21, 2017
6:30pm - 9:00pm
Where: Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Brown Auditorium
5905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, California  90036
United States
Contact: Lucy Lydon

Online registration is closed.
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Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) Foundation In-Conversation Series 


Art & Social Justice

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Program: 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Reception: 8:00pm – 9:00pm

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Brown Auditorium
5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036


The Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) Foundation is hosting an important program entitled In-Conversation: Art & Social Justice. This timely and important roundtable discussion will focus on the arts and curatorial interventions as direct and active vehicles for social change. The event brings together five prominent arts leaders to have a conversation around the power of art - created and presented by artists, arts organizations, scholars, activists, and of course, curators - to instigate action, produce impactful outcomes, bring attention to critical issues, and open conversations by offering different points of view.

This is a subject that the AAMC Foundation and program moderator has been dedicated to even before the recent political upheavals. Now it is more urgent than ever to consider how curatorial practices can be a catalyst for addressing issues of social justice and civil liberties. This program is sponsored in part by Christie’s, and hosted in part by LACMA.


Listed alphabetically. Please see below for full biographies of our presenters. 

David Gere
, Professor, Department of World Arts & Cultures/Dance University of California, Los Angeles

Naima Keith
, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Programs, California African American Museum

Bill Kelley, Jr.
, Lead Curator and Researcher, Talking to Action, Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design

Pilar Tompkins Rivas
, Director, Vincent Price Art Museum
Mary (Polly) Nooter Roberts
, Professor, Department of World Arts & Cultures/Dance, University of California, Los Angeles, and Consulting Curator for African Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art


Registration closes Friday, March 17, 12 PM ET. Please note that capacity for this program is extremely limited, and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.


$25 for AAMC Members
$30 for Non-Members

Free for students, limited capacity. To register as a student, please email


Listed alphabetically

David Gere, Professor, Department of World Arts & Cultures/Dance University of California, Los Angeles

David Gere, Ph.D., serves as director of the Art & Global Health Center at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) and is a professor in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, where he teaches courses in arts activism.
His book How to Make Dances in an Epidemic: Tracking Choreography in the Age of AIDS (University of Wisconsin Press, 2004) received the award for outstanding book publication from the Congress on Research in Dance. The book was also nominated for a Lambda Literary Award and received a special citation from the Society of Dance History Scholars and the De la Torre Bueno Prize. His co-edited volumes include Looking Out: Perspectives on Dance and Criticism in a Multicultural World (1995) and Taken By Surprise: A Dance Improvisation Reader (2003).
In the visual art world, Gere has co-curated a trilogy of AIDS exhibitions: MAKE ART/STOP AIDS (2008), The A.R.T. Show (2011), and Through Positive Eyes (2016), which is currently touring to Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape Town through 2018. Through Positive Eyes is a collaboration with the photographer Gideon Mendel, with funding from the Herb Ritts Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Ford Foundation, Andy Warhol Foundation, and the Teiger Foundation, in addition to UCLA sources.
Gere studied music, dance, and Tamil in Madurai, Tamilnadu, on an Oberlin Shansi Fellowship 1980-82 and, in 2004, he revisited India on a research grant from the Fulbright Association, studying the ways in which artists are working to stop the AIDS epidemic there. His current work with the Art & Global Health Center was born from that encounter. 

Naima Keith, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Programs, California African American Museum

Naima J. Keith joined the California African American Museum (CAAM) in 2016 as the Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Programs to guide the curatorial and education departments as well as marketing and communications. During her tenure at CAAM, Naima has also curated Hank Willis Thomas: Black Righteous Space (2016), Genevieve Gaignard: Smell the Roses (2016) and Kenyatta Hinkle: The Evanesced (2017). Previously an Associate Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2011-2016), her notable exhibitions include: Rodney McMillian: Views of Main Street (2016), Artists in Residence 2014-2015 (2015), Samuel Levi Jones: Unbound (2015), Titus Kaphar (2014), Glenn Kaino (2014) and Robert Pruitt (2013), The Shadows Took Shape (co-curated with Zoe Whitley, 2013), Fore (co-curated with Lauren Haynes and Thomas J. Lax, 2012). Her historical survey, Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974 - 1989 (2014), traveled to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, CA spring 2015 and was nominated in 2014 for a "Best Monographic Museum Show in New York" award by the International Association of Art Critics (AICA-USA). Between 2008-2011, Naima worked as a Curatorial Fellow at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, serving as the primary contact for the groundbreaking exhibition Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980, organized by guest curator Kellie Jones.  She has lectured at the Zoma Contemporary Art Center; Columbia University; The Museum of Modern Art; and Brooklyn Museum. Her essays have been featured in publications for The Studio Museum in Harlem, Hammer Museum, Perez Art Museum Miami, LAXART, MoMA PS1, and NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art. Naima holds degrees from Spelman College and UCLA is a proud native of Los Angeles.

Bill Kelley, Jr., Lead Curator and Researcher, Talking to Action, Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design

Bill Kelley, Jr. is an educator, curator and writer based in Los Angeles. He holds a Ph.D. in Art History, Theory and Criticism from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) and a Masters in Colonial Art Studies from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (UNM).  His current research focuses on collaborative and collective art practices in the Americas. Bill has written for such journals as Afterall, P.E.A.R., and Log Journal. He served as co-curator of the 2011 Encuentro Internacional de Medellín (MDE11) and was the former Director and Co-Editor of the online bilingual journal He currently holds the position of Assistant Professor of Latin American and Latino art history at California State University Bakersfield. Bill has co-edited an anthology with Grant Kester of collaborative art practices in the Americas entitled: Collective Situations: Readings in Contemporary Latin American Art 1995-2010 (Duke University Press, forthcoming). He is currently Lead Researcher and Curator of Talking to Action, for Otis College of Art as part of The Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative.

Pilar Tompkins Rivas, Director, Vincent Price Art Museum

Pilar Tompkins Rivas
is the director of the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College.  Specializing in U.S. Latino and Latin American Contemporary Art, she has been an arts professional since 2002 and has organized dozens of exhibitions throughout the US, Colombia, Egypt, France, and Mexico. Tompkins Rivas was the former coordinator of curatorial initiatives at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, co-directing the institution’s UCLA/LACMA Art History Practicum Initiative and the Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program in addition to co-curating forthcoming exhibitions A Universal History of Infamy and Home – So Different, So Appealing for LACMA in conjunction with the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA-LA initiative opening in 2017. As part of the Getty Research Institute’s Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, Tompkins Rivas curated Civic Virtue: The Impact of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and the Watts Towers Arts Center and co-curated the suite of exhibitions, L.A. Xicano, at LACMA, UCLA’s Fowler Museum, and the Autry National Center. Tompkins Rivas has also worked as curator and director of artist-in-residence programs at 18th Street Arts Center, the arts project coordinator at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, curator of the Claremont Museum of Art, and as director of the Latin American branch of the Artist Pension Trust.

Mary (Polly) Nooter Roberts
, Professor, Department of World Arts & Cultures/Dance, University of California, Los Angeles, and Consulting Curator for African Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Mary (Polly) Nooter Roberts is Professor in UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, and Consulting Curator for African Art at LACMA. She obtained her PhD in Art History from Columbia University, and studies the philosophical underpinnings of particular African visual and performance-based arts.

Dr. Roberts was Senior Curator at the Museum for African Art in New York until 1994, where her exhibitions and books included Secrecy: African Art that Conceals and Reveals (1993); Exhibition-ism: Museums and African Art (1994); and with Allen F. Roberts, Memory: Luba Art and the Making of History (1996), which won the College Art Association's Alfred Barr Award for museum scholarship. From 1999 – 2008 she served as Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the Fowler Museum at UCLA, where she curated Body Politics: The Female Image in Luba Art and the Sculpture of Alison Saar (2000) and A Saint in the City: Sufi Arts of Urban Senegal (2003), with Allen F. Roberts, which won both the Herskovits Award and the Arnold Rubin Outstanding Publication Award. For LACMA, she has helped to inaugurate an African art program and curated a series of exhibitions since 2013, with The Inner Eye; Vision and Transcendence in African Arts currently on view. Dr. Roberts has been a Getty Postdoctoral Fellow and held other grants and awards; served as President of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association; and is an editor of African Arts journal. In 2007, she was decorated as a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Republic of France.

AAMC Foundation’s Regional Programming In-Conversation Series

AAMC Foundation's regional programming series, In-Conversation, looks at important issues facing our museum and art organization community through a curatorial lens. By bringing this series forward, and opening the program to all, the Foundation continues to advance advocacy and inclusion within the curatorial profession. In hosting these programs in central regional areas, we are opening a dialogue within these communities and making connections across institutions.

The evening series is organized and supported by the AAMC Foundation. The open discussion format welcomes AAMC leadership, non-profit leaders, and voices from local communities to have an engaging dialogue on a focused subject. Following the discussion, AAMC welcomes the audience and speakers to continue the conversation at a brief reception. Past events have included: Addressing Implicit Bias in Museums, held in Washington, D.C.; Preventing Looting: What Curators & All Museum Staff Can Do held in NYC, and Museum Directors on the Curatorial Role, held in Boston. Future locations include Toronto, summer, 2017.

AAMC & AAMC Foundation

Founded in 2001, and now including over 1,300 members from over 400 institutions around the globe, we are a strong leader for curators in non-profit settings. The mission of the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) is to support and promote the work of visual art curators in the non-profit sector by creating opportunities for networking, collaboration, professional development, and advancement. In support of these aims, the AAMC Foundation seeks to heighten public understanding of the curator's non-profit role through programs, discussions, and opportunities open to the public and our members. By providing a dynamic forum in which to share ideas and encourage professional development, the Association of Art Museum Curators continues to grow, increasing its visibility and importance to the larger arts community.  At the heart of all we do is our goal to celebrate, advance, and advocate for the non-profit curator.  Our Strategic Plan’s key facets are diversity and advocacy, which now have devoted Task Forces within our organization, with the goals of furthering opportunities for all curators through creating inclusive programming, seeking to define and expand the definition of curator, promoting the curatorial role within our communities, and supporting the highest standards of curatorial ethics and professional behavior. 


Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) Foundation In-Conversation Series 
is generously supported in part by 


The program is organized and presented by the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) Foundation. We are grateful to Christie's for their support of our program, and to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for so generously hosting. The information presented here is subject to change without notice. The organizers assume no responsibility for any errors that may appear here, and in no event shall the organizers be liable for incidental or consequential damages arising from use of this document or other program-related material. This document and parts thereof must not be reproduced or copied without the organizers providing written permission, and contents thereof must not be imparted to a third party nor be used for any unauthorized purpose. Photograph of Pilar Tompkins Rivas courtesy of Rafael Cardenas.

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