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Dynamic curator joins ASU Art Museum

ASU Art Museum's new curator promotes social engagement with art and artists.

Photo courtesy of Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

September 19, 2012

Artist, educator and curator Julio Cesar Morales has joined the ASU Art Museum in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts as curator.

Morales, who teaches and creates in a variety of settings from juvenile halls to museums, is described by ASU Art Museum Director Gordon Knox as a “dynamic thinker” and a “highly energetic provocateur connecting communities and addressing major issues through the arts.”

Morales was adjunct curator at Yerba Buena Center for The Arts from 2008-2012, where he created the groundbreaking program PAUSE II Practice and Exchange, a series of process-based exhibitions with artists-in-residence from the Bay Area and around the world.

“With the sensitivity, drive and follow-through problem-solving of an artist, the international network of an energetic curator and the larger humanitarian concerns of a committed educator, Julio will accelerate and magnify the museum’s research and community engagement,” Knox said.

At YBCA, Morales invited artists to use the galleries as a laboratory in which they were commissioned to develop, experiment and translate new and existing bodies of visual artwork.

“Curatorial practice and art education have always been an important part of my overall artistic practice,” Morales said. “I am particularly interested in art’s unique ability to engage in a social context, which can imbue daily life with meaning and significance.”

Morales said his projects often examine the meaning and value of cultural difference, “thereby strengthening the public awareness of how diversity preserves individual dignity and group identity, strengthens communities and increases respect among all people.”

“The ASU Art Museum holds an important place in the critical and contemporary art world,” he said. “I am honored to join the team.”

His works at YBCA included lectures, performances and workshops that transformed the exhibition space into a fluid and active experience for gallery visitors. His other projects included the development of Crossfade, a forum for distinctive video compilations organized by guest curators based at art venues around the world, and an international residency program with Kadist Foundation. Artists included Xu Tan, George Kuchar with Miguel Calderon, Nina Beier, Jennie C. Jones, Allan deSouza and Koki Tanaka.

In his artwork, Morales consistently explores issues of labor, memory, surveillance technologies and identity strategies. He teaches and creates art in a variety of settings, from juvenile halls and probation offices to museums, art colleges and alternative non-profit institutions. His work has been shown at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; 2009 Lyon Biennale (Lyon, France); 2008 and 2004 San Juan Triennial (San Juan, Puerto Rico); 2007 Istanbul Biennale; Los Angeles County Art Museum (Los Angeles); 2006 Singapore Biennale; Frankfurter Kunstverein (Frankfurt, Germany); Swiss Cultural Center (Paris, France); The Rooseum Museum of Art (Malmo, Sweden); Peres Projects (Los Angeles); Fototeca de Havana (Cuba); Harris Lieberman Gallery (New York City); Museo Tamayo (Mexico City) and the UCLA Hammer Museum (Los Angeles).

He has received awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, The San Francisco Arts Commission’s Public Art Program, The Fleishhacker Foundation, The Ed Fund, The Creative Work Fund, Levis Strauss Foundation and Artadia, among others. Writing on his work has appeared in publications such as Artforum, Art in America, The New York Times, Frieze Magazine and Flash Art.

Recent curatorial projects include the retrospective exhibition Living in Studio Kuchar, of influential underground film-maker George Kuchar, at The San Francisco Art Institute (2012); Politica y Poecia, at The National Watercolor Museum in Sweden (2011), an exhibition of contemporary Mexican art that attempts to trace the lineage of political and poetic issues of migration and labor; and The One Who Sees Blindly, an exhibition that marked the United States' debut of French artist Nathalie Talec at YBCA (2012).

Morales is the founder, co-director and curator of Queens Nails Annex, located in the Mission district of San Francisco, which serves as a project space dedicated to presenting collaborative, site-specific and experimental works by artists. Queens Nails Annex challenges both emerging and established artists to work outside their “normal” practice in order to produce unique projects. Collaborative institutional projects include the 2008 California Biennale and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Bay Area Now. Exhibition highlights include more than 36-plus projects with Archigram, Pedro Reyes, Suzanne Lacy, Mary Kelly, Yoshua Okon, Tony Labat, Mitzi Pederson, Sarah Cain, Jason Jagel, Stella Lai, Jennifer Locke and Miguel Calderon as well as curatorial collaborations with Hou Hanru and Lauri Firstenberg, among others.

Additional independent curatorial projects have been exhibited at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco; the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery; the Pasadena Museum of California Art; and the Sonoma Valley Art Museum.

Public Contact: 
Deborah Sussman Susser
ASU Art Museum

Media Contact:
Deborah Sussman Susser
ASU Art Museum