In honor of the late Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor, Marian Goodman Gallery has launched a new initiative to fund career opportunities for early- and mid-career BIPOC curators.
The program, funded by Marian Goodman Gallery and designed by artist Steve McQueen, will award two research fellowships with the non-profit Independent Curators International. The awards will be given every year for the next three years to BIPOC curators in the U.S. or to curators of African descent located anywhere in the world.
The goal, Goodman says in a statement, is to “address the imbalance and injustice that is embedded in the gallery and museum system.”
“I hope with all my heart that this initiative can help to bring about a shift,” the veteran gallerist says. “And, of course, I wish that Okwui were still here to guide us.”
McQueen echoed the sentiment in a statement of his own, saying, “Okwui was always thinking about the future, always thinking ahead in order to create a healthier environment for all, no matter what the challenges were or what he, as a pioneer, came up against. This initiative is very much in his spirit, championing innovators in a field that he reinvented.”
The ICI announcement described the new program as the first phase of the Marian Goodman Gallery Initiative. After these initial three years, the gallery will review the impact of the programs before potentially initiating a second phase.
The first two curatorial research fellowships will be announced this spring. The initiative will also allow ICI to continue offering curatorial intensives—its flagship professional development program—in Africa until 2023.
Held two-to-four times annually in cities around the world, ICI’s curatorial intensives convene a dozen up-and-coming curators for a week’s worth of seminars, lectures, site visits, and meetings with mentors. Every year since 2013, the program has been held in a different African city.
The growing list of alumni includes Lucy Gallun, associate photography curator at the Museum of Modern Art, and Legacy Russell, author and associate curator of exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Widely regarded as one of the most influential curators of his generation, Okwui Enwezor died in 2019 of cancer. He was 55.