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Trailblazers of the Art World - Eva Respini

Updated: Apr 4

Visionary, trailblazer and accomplished are just a few words that would be appropriate in describing Eva Respini who has held the position of chief curator at ICA/Boston since 2015 and is now Deputy Director and Director of Curatorial Programs at Vancouver Art Gallery. Her stewardship has helped the institution reemerge at the forefront of the art community and the museum world.

Her impressive body of work specialises in global contemporary art and image-making practices, including When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration Through Contemporary Art (2019), Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today (2018), Huma Bhabha: They Live (2019), and a major retrospective of Cindy Sherman (2012).

She has curated additional collections and is currently a lecturer in curatorial practice at Harvard University. Previous posts as a lecturer have included Columbia University, Yale University, and the School of Visual Arts, New York.

Respini was also the curator and co-commissioner of the U. S. Pavillion’s historic Simon Leigh Presentation for the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022. Holding the post of curator for the Museum of Modern Art for over a decade, she has revitalised the institution, widened its appeal to include a broader audience, and reignited public interest in art and the organisation.

While at the helm of ICA, she led the expansion of its program including a 15,000-foot expansion of the Watershed, a formerly abandoned industrial space that now provides a “ to experience large-scale and immersive artworks.” Ms. Respini’s vision of expanding the traditional reach of the institution to overlooked and under-recognised artists has found a solid following in the area.

Throughout her career, she has been a published author writing essays appearing in Aperture Magazine, Ordinary Pictures, Leslie Hewitt, The Institute of the Arts, The Museum of Contemporary Art, museums, catalogues, and books.

Her curatorial projects at ICA/Boston have included Deanna Lawson (2021), Firelei Baez (2021), and Sterling Roby (2021). Exhibitions that Ms. Respini has helmed include Walid Raad (2015), Scenes From a New Heritage: Contemporary Art From the New Collection (2015), Projects 100, Akram Zaataari (2013), and Shabazi (2012).

Ms. Respini’s unique world vision and travels have informed her artistic vision and creative expression: her nomadic lifestyle has greatly influenced her perspective, having lived on 5 continents before the age of 18.

She holds a B.A. and an M.A. in art history from Columbia University and was a 2014 fellow at the Center for Curatorial Leadership. To learn more about Ms. Respini, her career, and the ICA/Boston, please visit the following websites:

IG @curator_on_the_run

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