Helen Molesworth, the new curator of contemporary art at the Harvard University Art Museums, was nice enough to submit to a few e-mailed questions over the weekend. Molesworth, 40, a native of New York City, won't start at the HUAM until February. She's currently chief curator of exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Ohio, and has also worked at the Whitney and Baltimore Museum of Art. On a personal level, Molesworth's move also makes sense. This summer, she and HUAM's prints curator Susan Dackerman were married at Harvard Memorial Church.
Do you have any exhibition plans already for Harvard? What are they?
Yes, HUAM and the Wexner Center will co-organize an exhibition I have been working on called “Solitaire” which feature the work of three artists who all got their start in New York in the 1960s , who are all painters, and who all have a complicated relationship to the ideas of feminism. They are Lee Lozano, Joan Semmel and Sylvia Plimack Mangold.
Who are your favorite living artists?
That list is too long. Amy Sillman, Rachel Harrison, K8 Hardy, Josiah McElheny, Kara Walker, Phil Collins, Sadie Benning, Robert Gober, Kerry James Marshall are a few.
Which artists have you been most pleased to exhibit early in their careers?
Rachel Harrison and Josiah McElheny.
Which artists do you think have been given too much attention, or, if that's too sensitive, what kind of art has been given too much attention?
I think art fairs and large biennials get too much attention.
The perception has always been that Harvard, like the MFA, has not been a fertile ground for contemporary art. Is that fair?
Not any more.
Is there anything about the HUAM holdings that you think would surprise people?
I’m hoping to be surprised by them myself; I’ve yet to learn the collection.
I believe you will continue your relationship with Wexner in some way.
Yes, I will continue to co-organize the first US Luc Tuymans retrospective with SF MOMA.
Why did you take this job?
The HUAM seems poised to embrace the 21st century, I’d like to be a part of that.