Released September 18, 2008
Salem, Mass. -The Peabody Essex Museum is pleased to announce the appointment of its first Curator of Contemporary Art, Trevor Smith. Smith's expertise and creativity will advance PEM's mission to present modern and contemporary art in the context of the museum's rich international history and collections.
"Trevor Smith's appointment as PEM's first Curator of Contemporary Art reflects a firm commitment to collecting, presenting, and interpreting the work of leading artists worldwide. We are especially excited by his ability to select and interpret the work of artists who illuminate our experience and our world in compelling ways," said Dan Monroe, Executive Director and CEO.
Smith has worked for organizations around the world, ranging from contemporary art spaces to large museums. His degree from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, was followed by diverse curatorial residencies and graduate studies at the University of Sydney, Australia, and Cité International des Arts, Paris. Based in Australia from 1992 to 2003, he worked first on the Biennale of Sydney and was Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. From 2003 to 2006 he was a senior curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, where he co-curated the award-winning traveling exhibition Andrea Zittel: Critical Space. Most recently, he has been curator-in-residence at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where he presented Martin Creed: Feelings in 2007.
Smith will develop exhibitions and collaborate with other curators to incorporate contemporary art into various exhibitions, public spaces and projects throughout the museum. His talent for creating lively connections across time, cultures and disciplines is among the many assets he brings to his post.
"When you have the privilege to work closely with artists, their work takes you on unexpected journeys and draws surprising connections that often lie outside of neat historical categories or political boundaries," says Smith. "I love the idea of being able to explore culture in its broadest possible aspects." His exhibition The Divine Comedy featured William Kentridge, a contemporary artist from South Africa, Francisco Goya and Buster Keaton, the silent film comedian, exemplifies the expansive thinking Smith brings to his shows. Among other artists with whom Smith has worked are Manfred Pernice, Robert MacPherson, Katerina Seda, Brian Jungen, Marko Peljhan, and David Goldblatt.
"Trevor's appointment is the result of an intensive search for a curator who could entice regional, national and international audiences to explore the most stimulating, transformative and even playful art of our time, as well as provide a fresh interpretive approach and strategic acquisitions for our collection. We are thrilled to welcome him to our very talented curatorial team," says Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, PEM's James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes Chief Curator.
Smith's appointment quickly follows that of Phillip Prodger, the museum's first full-time Curator of Photography, further demonstrating PEM's commitment to investigating contemporary and modern art in all its forms. Prodger will develop exhibitions and publications that provide fresh insight into photography, in some cases inspired by PEM's considerable photography collection.