Henry and Lois Foster Chair in Contemporary Art Theory and Practice
and Distinguished Curator-in-Residence
Emerson College (Emerson) is the nation’s only four-year institution dedicated exclusively to majors in communication and the arts in a liberal arts context. Established in 1880 as a small, regional school of oratory, Emerson has evolved into a diverse, coeducational, and multifaceted degree-granting institution with a liberal arts orientation. It educates students to assume positions of leadership in communication and the arts and to advance scholarship and creative work that brings innovation, depth, and diversity to these disciplines. Emerson’s mission is informed by core liberal arts values that seek to promote civic engagement, encourage ethical practices, foster respect for human diversity, and inspire students to create and communicate with clarity, integrity, and conviction.
Emerson’s epicenter is located in the dynamic multi-cultural city of Boston in close proximity to incredible cultural resources, arts and educational institutions, and research centers. With additional campuses in Los Angeles and Kasteel Well (The Netherlands), Emerson enrolls a total of 3,662 undergraduate students and 830 graduate students from 75 countries and all 50 states.
Emerson is committed to an active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity—in its people, curriculum, and intellectual, social, cultural, and geographical communities. Emerson endorses a framework of inclusive excellence, which recognizes that institutional excellence comes from fully engaging with diversity in all aspects of institutional activities. Emerson is dedicated to strengthening communities, including its workplace, by fostering the development of the intercultural competencies necessary for meaningful citizenship in an increasingly complex, pluralistic society.
The School of the Arts at Emerson is a community of artists, professionals, and scholars committed to educating students to bring vision, commitment, sophistication, and courage to their crafts. Its four departments/programs—visual and media arts; writing, literature, and publishing; performing arts; and comedic arts—train students in theory, practice, and the intellectual and artistic traditions that inform both. The departments help students become thinkers, makers, and citizens of a complex world, and Emerson’s internationally recognized faculty members give students a sense of ownership of their education. The Department of Visual and Media Arts is a vibrant and engaged community of artists, scholars, and professionals, with over 100 full- and part-time faculty members and 1,700 students. The department offers a minor in art history, with courses ranging from surveys to seminars, a Bachelor of Arts that includes both media studies and media production, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in media production, a Master of Arts in film and media art, and a bicoastal low-residency Master of Fine Arts in writing for film and television.
Emerson’s Boston campus aims to use public art to achieve diversity through community and global engagement by activating its venues. The 1,600-square foot Huret & Spector Gallery serves as a laboratory space for Emerson students and faculty to produce experimental art projects and for graduate students to showcase their exhibitions. The 2,600-square foot Emerson Urban Arts: Media Art Gallery serves as the locus of an initiative to develop contemporary visual art as a vital component of Emerson’s arts profile. It is the only art gallery in the Boston Common, Theatre District, and Downtown Crossing neighborhoods, and Boston’s only gallery dedicated solely to media arts. Over the past six years, Emerson Urban Arts has programmed the Paramount Urban Screen, a three-story LED video projection on the façade of the Emerson/Paramount Center, located on Washington Street in Downtown Crossing. Emerson has also commissioned videos from artists, including Jim Campbell, Mischa Kuball, and Van McElwee, transforming the contemporary visual environment of Downtown Crossing.
Reporting to the Dean of the School of the Arts, the Henry and Lois Foster Chair in Contemporary Art Theory and Practice and Distinguished Curator-in-Residence (Foster Chair and Distinguished Curator) is a non-tenure, term contract, unionized position housed in the Department of Visual and Media Arts. The Foster Chair and Distinguished Curator will increase knowledge, awareness, and appreciation of the contemporary arts through creative and scholarly works, exhibition curation, and public art commissions in collaboration with Emerson’s Public Art Think Tank (PATT), inspiring both theory and practice. Developing curricular and collaborative opportunities with faculty throughout Emerson, this position extends the curriculum beyond the classroom and emphasizes emergent art forms and the importance of diverse artists, audiences, media, and exhibition techniques. Teaching students and exposing the broader community to the most substantive and progressive contemporary art, the Foster Chair and Distinguished Curator will develop meaningful connections with individual donors, present written materials to institutional funders, and collaborate with various artists, artistic disciplines, and institutions that seek to advance contemporary art initiatives.
Roles and Responsibilities
Gallery Curation and Administration
- Actively program the galleries by curating (or facilitating guest curators for) at least four exhibitions each year during the fall and spring semesters, ensuring a dual focus on both curricular integration and the national conversation in contemporary art, emphasizing media arts and emergent art forms.
- Curate dynamic storefront window exhibitions and displays for the summer to extend the reach of gallery programs.
- Demonstrate a commitment to a diversity of artists and exhibition types and techniques.
- Oversee all areas of gallery operations, including budget management, hiring and supervision of staff and contract employees, student intern engagement, and exhibition logistics such as shipping, contract management, and appropriate licensing.
- Ensure proper scheduling and maintenance of all facilities, equipment, and systems with other Emerson departments.
- Develop marketing and promotional materials, including online publications for individual exhibitions, shows, and the overall gallery programs.
- Prepare written curatorial statements that effectively explore contemporary art and artist perspectives, inspire curiosity, and deepen understanding.
- Participate actively in donor cultivation and fundraising activities, including attending donor events and preparing written materials.
- Ensure gallery mailing list and media postings are maintained and positioned for growth.
- Manage and act as the liaison for external event bookings in the Media Art Gallery.
Public Art and Outreach
- Commission, curate, and promote public art throughout the campus in collaboration with the PATT and directly with artists.
- Engage students and new audiences by producing dynamic public art programs including murals, interactive light installations, participatory performances, and projection events.
- Champion collaboration, community engagement, and inclusion as part of Emerson’s overall civic engagement practices.
- Program and commission artists for the Paramount Urban Screen as a component of Emerson Urban Arts, and ensure the Urban Screen is properly maintained.
- Support the Emerson Public Art initiative and serve on the PATT regarding important issues related to public art in Boston.
Teaching and Academic Program Integration
- Teach two courses per year to support instruction in curatorial practice and relevant (rotating) special topic courses that empower students and faculty within the department and across contemporary art disciplines.
- Consult with other faculty members in curricular integration between gallery exhibitions, public art programs, and special initiatives.
- Support recruitment, admission, and student mentorship as a member of the Department of Visual and Media Arts.
- Serve on various Emerson committees as appropriate.
Traits and Characteristics
The Foster Chair and Distinguished Curator will be motivated by new ideas, methods, and approaches to how contemporary art can be used as a catalyst for deeper social and educational pursuits. A visionary colleague, mentor, and leader, the Foster Chair and Distinguished Curator will advance aesthetic and cultural knowledge and will demonstrate a keen awareness of service to a broad range of students, artists, faculty, and community members. A versatile and people-oriented professional adept at embracing frequent communications and interactions, this individual will have strong interpersonal skills balanced by a unique capacity in planning, organizing, and curating. The Foster Chair and Distinguished Curator will be a self-starter whose diplomacy and teamwork inspire creativity and collaboration in a dynamic setting.
Other key competencies include:
- Personal and Professional Accountability – The confidence to accept responsibility for and consequences of personal and professional actions, maintain commitments, and apply lessons learned from the past while adapting to the present and preparing for the future.
- Project Management, Planning, and Organizing – The ability to identify and cultivate the resources and systems needed to obtain results and the capacity to prioritize tasks to establish appropriate courses of action.
- Diplomacy and Interpersonal Skills – The dexterity to embrace different points of view constructively, resolve challenging issues, and bring cohesion among a wide array of stakeholders while interacting with them in a positive manner, treating them fairly, and listening carefully to what they have to say.
A Master of Arts, Master of Fine Arts, or Doctor of Philosophy degree and significant experience as a practitioner in contemporary art curation and exhibition planning are required. A deep background in contemporary and emerging art theory and practice with demonstrated experience in contemporary galleries, museums, or non-traditional exhibition spaces is needed. Interpersonal and written skills must be at an advanced level of excellence. Prior experience in academic lecturing and publications are welcomed but not required.
Compensation and Benefits
Emerson offers very competitive compensation, commensurate with experience, and a benefits package that includes medical, dental, short-term disability, long-term disability, and group life insurances; flexible spending accounts; 403(b) tax deferred annuity and retirement plans; tuition and transportation benefits; employee assistance program; and the quality of life that the metropolitan Boston area offers.
Applications and Inquiries
Please submit a letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable curatorial, exhibition planning, and academic accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred) to:
Wyona Lynch-McWhite, Vice President
292 Newbury Street, Suite 315
Boston, MA 02115-2801
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 225
Emerson College is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer
focused on workforce diversity. It welcomes all qualified applicants without regard to race,
color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, marital status, veteran status,
or the presence of a non-job-related medical condition or handicap.
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