Valerie Cassel Oliver is the Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Prior to her position at the VMFA, she was Senior Curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, where she worked from 2000-2017. In 2000 she was one of six curators selected to organize the Biennial for the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her 2018 debut exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was a 50-year survey of work by Howardena Pindell entitled Howardena Pindell: What Remains to be Seen. The exhibition, which she co-organized with Naomi Beckwith, the Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, was named one of the most influential of the decade. Most recently, Cassel Oliver organized the exhibition, Cosmologies from the Tree of Life that featured over thirty newly acquired works from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. She is currently developing the group exhibition, The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture and the Sonic Impulse, scheduled to open at the VMFA May, 2021. Cassel Oliver is the recipient of a Getty Curatorial Research Fellowship (2007); the High Museum of Art’s David C. Driskell Award (2011); the Arthur and Carol Kaufman Goldberg Foundation-to-Life Fellowship at Hunter College (2016) and the James A. Porter Book.
Lowery Stokes Sims is a specialist in modern and contemporary art, craft and design, who has been committed to a diverse and inclusive global art world and artists whose identities and work reflect those values. Sims holds a B.A. in art history from Queens College of the City University of New York, a M.A. in art history from Johns Hopkins University and a MPhil and Ph.D. in art history from the Graduate School of the City University of New York.
Sims served on the education and curatorial staff of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1972-1999) and as executive director, president and adjunct curator for the permanent collection at The Studio Museum in Harlem (2000-2007). Sims retired as Curator Emerita from the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, where she served as the Charles Bronfman International Curator and the William and Mildred Ladson Chief Curator (2007-2015). She has served as a guest curator/consultant at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, the McNay Art Museum; Grounds for Sculpture; the Craft Museum, Los Angeles; the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco; the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Reginald Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture.
Sims was a Visiting Professor at Queens College and Hunter College, New York City, a fellow at the Clark Art Institute, Visiting Scholar in the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota and Distinguished Professor in the Claire Trevor School of Arts, University of California, Irvine. She was the Kirk Varnedoe Visiting Professor at the Institute of Fines Art for the Spring 2018 semester and adjunct professor in Spring 2019 and Fall 2020. She has been appointed the 2021-22 Kress-Beinecke Professor at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery.