The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA) announces Jamillah James as its new curator. James joins ICA LA after serving as Assistant Curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, where she organized exhibitions and programs at Art + Practice, an arts and social services foundation in Leimert Park established by artist Mark Bradford. James’s appointment marks the first hire after ICA LA announced in May its identity change (formerly the Santa Monica Museum of Art) and relocation to the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles. James began her position with ICA LA on August 1.
“We are forming the ICA LA team by seeking strong and diverse perspectives that unite around common ideas.Jamillah brings incredible diligence, depth, and acuity to her exhibitions,”says Elsa Longhauser, ICA LA Executive Director. “She champions the values that ICA LA holds in highest regard—critique of the familiar and empathy with the different.”
Since 2014, James has organized the Los Angeles solo institutional debuts of painter Njideka Akunyili Crosby, conceptual artist Alex Da Corte, and multidisciplinary artist Simone Leigh (opening September 17, 2016 at the Hammer Museum). She also garnered critical praise for A Shape That Stands Up—an ambitious group show that featured work by Kevin Beasley, Robert Colescott, Carroll Dunham, Jamian Juliano-Villani, and Amy Sillman, as well as Selections from the Brockman Gallery Archives, an exhibition that explored Leimert Park’s legendary Brockman Gallery and its work with such seminal black artists as David Hammons, Senga Nengudi, and Noah Purifoy. James co-organized the Hammer’s presentation of Charles Gaines’s Gridwork 1974–1989; and assisted Hammer Senior Curator Anne Ellegood on John Outterbridge: Rag Man, and Chief Curator Connie Butler on Mark Bradford: Scorched Earth.
“I am thrilled to join the ICA LA at this critical moment of transformation. I look forward to working closely with the institution to build a dynamic curatorial program that continues its longstanding commitment to experimentation, and places artists and communities in meaningful dialogue,” says James.
Before her tenure at the Hammer, James was a curatorial fellow at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York where she organized Brothers and Sisters, a survey show that paired pieces from the permanent collection with paintings by Beauford Delaney. In addition, she worked closely with curators Lauren Haynes, Naima J. Keith, and Thomas J. Lax on the production of Fore, the fourth installment of The Studio Museum’s series of emerging artist exhibitions. James also held a curatorial fellowship at the Queens Museum, New York, where she co-organized the 2010 Queens International biennial. She has independently curated a number of exhibitions, performances, and screenings in Baltimore, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. Her writing has been featured in publications by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND), The Studio Museum, and in the International Review of African American Art. James is also a regular visiting lecturer and critic at numerous art schools and institutions throughout the country, including ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena and Rhode Island School of Design