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ASU Art Museum receives half million dollar grant to support Latino curators

Headshot of Alana Hernandez, executive director and curator of CALA Alliance.

Alana Hernandez is the executive director and curator of CALA Alliance, ASU Art Museum's partner in receiving funds from the Advancing Latinx Art in Museums initiative.

February 15, 2023

The Arizona State University Art Museum is one of 10 institutions selected to receive funding as part of a new $5 million initiative designed to advance Latino art in museums. 

A joint effort by the Mellon, Ford, Getty and Terra Foundations, the Advancing Latinx Art in Museums (ALAM) initiative represents the second phase of a multiyear funding collaboration seeking to nurture and prioritize U.S. Latino art. The funding partners have committed a combined $5 million to the initiative, which will provide ten grants of $500,000 to institutions in support of the creation and formalization of 10 permanent early and midcareer curatorial positions with expertise in Latino art. 

Latino artists — creatives of Latin American or Caribbean descent who live and work in the U.S. — have made significant and vital contributions to American culture for generations. ALAM is a collaborative initiative that aims to bolster museums and visual art organizations that have shown a commitment to collecting, studying, exhibiting and engaging with Latino art and artists by ensuring they have the capacity to employ specialist curators.

Funding will support the hiring of five new curators and the promotion of five curatorial staff into permanent roles at institutions across the United States and Puerto Rico. The grant program will also include opportunities to enhance and grow the existing community of curators with expertise in Latino art, connecting the individuals supported at each participating institution to each other and to a wider circle of museum professionals working in this space. 

“ASU Art Museum is fortunate to be embedded within the nation’s largest public research university, a Hispanic-serving institution that graduates more first-generation students than any other university in the country,” ASU Art Museum Director Miki Garcia said. “The museum is proud of its abiding dedication to representing a plurality of voices, and with a curator focused on illuminating the creative expressions of LatinxA gender-neutral or nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina. experiences, this grant aligns with our commitment to creating a new kind of institution that is more inclusive and just.”

The ASU Art Museum received the award in partnership with CALA (Celebración Artística de las Américas) Alliance, a Latino arts organization based in Phoenix. CALA Alliance works with ASU Art Museum to achieve their common mission of incubating and accelerating the presence of Latino art in the United States. Together CALA Alliance and the museum promote the exchange of new ideas, perspectives and experiences among artists, students and the public through various programs, especially those that educate and inspire the public about the richness of the Latino cultural heritage.

“The deep knowledge and understanding of Latinx art these 10 curators hold comes from rigorous expertise and commitment to the creative expression of Latinx communities in the United States and Puerto Rico,” said Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation. “Through ALAM we are proud to help expand opportunities for Latinx art curatorship across the country, and to do our part in upholding the centrality of this work in our museums and arts organizations.” 

“We need to invest more if we want Latinx art to be more broadly represented in our museums, with dedicated curators who can focus exclusively on building and stewarding these collections,” said Joan Weinstein, director of the Getty Foundation. "ALAM is a decisive next step made possible through collaborative funding.” 

People who identify as Latino comprise nearly 20% of the U.S. population overall and considerably more in some of the country’s largest cities, yet Latino causes and organizations routinely receive less than 2% of philanthropic funding. While annual funding for Latino arts and culture has seen a gradual annual increase since 2020, Latino artists remain the largest majority missing from most museum collections, exhibitions, scholarship and programming. ALAM, and the greater Latinx Art Visibility Initiative, is part of a long overdue effort to support Latino artists and to ignite a public conversation about the rightful place of Latino art within American art. 

ALAM recipients include large institutions, college and university museums, and leading Latino museums — spanning scale, modality and location — all aligned in their commitment to building or expanding a curatorial focus on Latino art and ultimately creating a more inclusive curatorial field. 

The 2022 Advancing Latino Art Museums recipients institutions are:

  • 516 ARTS, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 
  • ASU Art Museum in partnership with CALA Alliance, Tempe, Arizona. 
  • Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin, Texas. 
  • El Museo del Barrio, New York.
  • Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego.
  • National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. 
  • National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago.
  • Newark Museum of Art; Newark, New Jersey.
  • The Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College; Los Angeles.

Forty-eight museums and visual arts organizations from the U.S. and Puerto Rico that have shown a commitment to collecting, studying, exhibiting and engaging with Latino art and artists were invited to apply. Applications were reviewed by a panel of five experts in Latino visual art and museums. 

For more information on Advancing Latinx Art in Museums, visit the Mellon Foundation website.

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