We’re kicking off “Notes on the Collection,” a new blog series by Pérez Art Museum Miami’s (PAMM) first Ford Foundation Curatorial Fellow Ade Omotosho, where he’ll focus on artworks from the museum’s permanent collection. Every first Friday of the month, Omotosho will share his notes on his personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences with various artworks that he hopes might provide a generative way to think about PAMM’s diverse collection.
Get to know Omotosho and learn more about “Notes on the Collection,” below.
What is your position at PAMM?
I am the inaugural Ford Foundation Curatorial Fellow at PAMM. The fellowship is a new initiative that was launched by the Ford Foundation last year to provide museum experience for recent undergraduate students interested in curatorial work. The fellowship is part of broader efforts taken by many cultural institutions to increase the diversity of the curatorial ranks in American museums and provide greater visibility to curators from historically underrepresented backgrounds.
I come to PAMM from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where I worked for two years as the Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellow in the department of photography while attending the University of Texas (UT) at Austin. As a student at UT, I studied art history and African studies. My research focused on modern and contemporary art, with a particular focus on the diverse practices of artists of the African diaspora. I wrote my undergraduate honors thesis on the photography of Black-British artist of Nigerian heritage Rotimi Fani-Kayode and received my Bachelor of Arts in art history from UT in May 2017.
I was initially drawn to the fellowship opportunity at PAMM because of the museum’s interest in Miami’s geographic location at the “crossroads of the Americas.” I hope to further that conversation in my work by highlighting African diaspora artists throughout the Americas and making cross-cultural connections between various artworks and artists during my time as a fellow.
What is the series about?
“Notes on the Collection,” a new blog project I started to create more storytelling about the museum’s young collection, is primarily about artworks from PAMM’s permanent collection. PAMM first began acquiring artwork in 1996 when it was formerly the Miami Art Museum. While young, the collection is quickly expanding and it has been an important goal in the curatorial department to create scholarship around the collection objects. I’ve been asked to respond to these goals by writing narratives about artworks from the collection to be published to the museum’s blog.
Because it is a new endeavor, the project will be evolving, shifting, and, at times, possibly experimental. As the author of the blog series, I’m interested less in outlining a strict narrative to place artworks within than in allowing artworks room to breathe and intimate a story to me. I aim to embrace the newness of the project and allow the collection objects to inspire my research and writing in the hopes that my responses to the work foster an open-ended process of exploration. While exhibitions are typically organized with a particular theme, there are often subthemes and stories that exist within the larger exhibition, and even across different exhibitions, waiting to be parsed through and considered. Engaging with the collection in this way opens up alternative pathways to viewing artworks.
What are the objectives of the series?
There are many goals for “Notes on the Collection.” Some of which include making connections between artworks from PAMM’s permanent collection, relating artworks to our contemporary moment, and ultimately engaging the museum audience in new narratives about the collection. Additionally, one of the objectives is to highlight the relevance of the artworks to the city of Miami in particular and its communities.
What do you plan to cover/address in the series posts?
I plan to use artworks to address issues relevant to art history and also contemporary issues. While the place of these artworks in the history of art is important, it is also critical to make the work relevant to museum audiences in ways not typically experienced. I hope to get at the idea of there being a plurality of art histories and art historical canons and think outside of traditional methods of understanding and categorizing artworks to find approaches that articulate new networks and connections.
Tell us about the choice of the name “Notes on the Collection?”
To me, the title feels very straightforward and expresses exactly what the series is about. I wanted a title that would encompass the range of writing that I will produce over the next two years. These writings are notes of my personal thoughts on, my feelings of, and my experiences with various artworks that I hope might provide a generative way to think about PAMM’s diverse collection.
About Ade Omotosho
Ade Omotosho is the inaugural Ford Foundation Curatorial Fellow at Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Prior to PAMM, he was the Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellow in the photography department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. His research focuses on international modern and contemporary art with a particular interest in the practices of artists of the African diaspora. He received his Bachelor of Arts in art history from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2017.