Yesomi Umolu to lead Logan Center Exhibitions

Susan Allen
News Officer for Arts and HumanitiesUniversity Communications

After an international search, the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago has appointed Yesomi Umolu as the Logan Center Exhibitions Curator. Umolu will begin on Aug. 3.

In her new role, Umolu will oversee exhibitions in the Logan Center Gallery and other spaces throughout the multidisciplinary arts building. She will also work closely with students and faculty in the Departments of Visual Art and Art History, as well as colleagues from across the University and the city, to develop innovative programs.

“In Yesomi, we have found a curator who will advance the adventurous, collaborative and inquisitive approach that has characterized Logan Center Exhibitions since its founding,” said Bill Michel, executive director of the Logan Center. “I look forward to experiencing the inspiring and thought-provoking work she will bring to the Logan Center in the years ahead.”

In its first three years, Logan Center Exhibitions has hosted more than 20 exhibitions featuring the works of Ricardo Busbaum, David Schutter, and Brian Jungen and Duane Linklater, among many others. Previous shows include Szalon, AFRICOBRA: Philosophy, Diasporal Rhythms: A Ten Year Love Affair with Collecting Art of the African Diaspora and Yang Fudong: East of Que Village, as well as annual exhibitions of the work of Arts + Public Life and Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture artists-in-residence.

“I look forward to continuing the ethos of experimentation and critical discourse around contemporary art and culture that the Logan Center Exhibitions program has established,” Umolu said. “I am thrilled at the prospect of collaborating with artists, scholars and community members who contribute so greatly to the Logan Center’s vibrant presence on campus and in the broader South Side cultural corridor.”

Umolu’s appointment comes at a time of growth for contemporary art on campus. Recent additions to the scene—among them the Arts Incubator, the Chicago Booth Art Collection, the Gray Center Lab and Neubauer Collegium Exhibitions—have joined established institutions like the Smart Museum of Art and the Renaissance Society, creating new opportunities for students, faculty and community members to experience new work.

“I am excited to welcome Yesomi to the University of Chicago,” said Jessica Stockholder, the Raymond W. and Martha Hilpert Gruner Distinguished Service Professor and chair of the Department of Visual Arts. “Her experience and interests are international in scope, and her passion for the visual arts will contribute to the lively culture of the arts here on campus. I’m looking forward to working with her.”

Previous Work

Prior to her appointment at UChicago, Umolu was assistant curator at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, where she organized exhibitions, commissions and public programs focusing on global contemporary art.

She recently curated John Akomfrah: Imaginary Possessions (2014), the first U.S. museum exhibition dedicated exclusively to the recent work of British-Ghanaian filmmaker John Akomfrah.

Her other curatorial projects at the Broad MSU include Focus: Pao Houa Her (2015); The Land Grant: Forest Law (2014), a newly commissioned research and film project by Ursula Biemann and Paulo Tavares; and Revelations: Examining Democracy (2013), featuring works from the Broad MSU collection. She was coordinating curator for the Broad MSU presentation of MCA Denver’s Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art (2013) and SFMOMA’s Lebbeus Woods, Architect (2013). She has also supported exhibitions of works by Mithu Sen, Trevor Paglen and Jessica Jackson Hutchins, among others.

Umolu was previously Curatorial Fellow for Visual Arts at Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center, where she curated Karen Mirza and Brad Butler’s first U.S. museum solo show The Museum of Non Participation: The New Deal (2013). She also worked on numerous solo and group exhibitions including Abraham Cruzvillegas: The Autoconstrucción Suites (2013), Minouk Lim: Heat of Shadows (2012), The Living Years: Art after 1989 (2012) and Lifelike (2012).

Prior to joining the Walker, Umolu held curatorial positions at the European biennial of contemporary Art Manifesta 8, in the region of Murcia, Spain, and the Serpentine Gallery in London. She has also contributed to programming at the Institute of International Visual Arts and Tate Modern, London.

She has been a visiting lecturer, critic and speaker at a number of international universities including Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London; Goldsmiths, University of London; Jagiellonian University, Krakow; and University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, among others.

Her writing has appeared in numerous catalogues and journals, including ;Art in America and Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism.

Umolu received an MA with honors in Architectural Design from the University of Edinburgh and an MA with Distinction in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, London.

Three the Hard Way, a group exhibition featuring the works of the University of Chicago’s 2014/2015 Arts + Public Life and Center for the Study of Race, Politics & Culture artists-in-residence Ayana Contreras, James T. Green and David Leggett opened July 10. For more information on upcoming exhibitions, visit the Logan Center Exhibitions website.